VIVA celebrates Tenth Anniversary with eclectic show

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dailyfind-mugBY JAMES HAMES

VIVA Art Center is currently showing its Tenth Anniversary All Group Exhibition.  The show features the  gallery’s four affiliated groups  and is a mix of methods and media used by their members.

The exhibit  presents a sheaf of representational works, a spool of pure abstractions and a big Crayola box of steps in between.


First Award winner: Martha Blanchard's "Geometric Fantasy"

Members of the four member organizations, Collage Artists of America, Women Painters West, Valley Watercolor Society and Valley Artists Guild submitted more than 200 works which were winnowed to about 100, said Carolyn Uhri,  VIVA Art Center president.

A reception for the All Group Show was held  on July 19 at the gallery on Moorpark, near Fulton Avenue in the Moorpark Village neighborhood of Sherman Oaks.


Marilyn B. Jordan and her mixed media work, "When we were together." Photo: Karen Young

Works were juried into the show by Gerald Brommer, a well-collected artist, teacher and author whose history in the region is deep and wide. Brommer picked eight works as worthy of awards or honorable mention.

First Award winner is Martha Blanchard’s “Geometric Fantasy” and it is a mixed media concert of textured paint, paper and found items, creating a determined interplay of looseness and defined edges. Unity is conveyed by having no line not interrupted, no color is pure, every area impinged upon.


Norm Beal's "Oracle" earned the Second Award

Norm Beal’s “Oracle” earned the Second Award. It is a figurative piece with the model locked-eyed with the viewer , framed by in a what is at first glance a window in a concrete wall, though behind her is a Stonehenge-like post and lintel landscape and a coming tornado. The concrete wall is festooned with a child’s doll hanging by it’s neck and a cursive “i asesino” (I assassin, in Spanish) is  brushed across the lowest quarter. Whatever that oracle is prophesying, it doesn’t look good.

Third Award went to Carol Merrick’s “Ode to Van Gogh”– though not in the manner of that post-impressionist, it’s a meticulous manifestation of both artists’ love for sunflowers, here performed in paint and over-lined in ink.

Of the five Honorable Mention awards:

“Tujunga Wash” by Loraine Veeck reveals an adeptness with pastels, capturing a spacial realism without photo-realism. It brings to mind  what image manipulators attempt with a Photoshop filter program — whereas that is a technical application, the adeptness of Veeck’s pastel is technique. It fits in well with a long tradition of California impressionist landscapes, but capturing a light locals see often that postcards ignore. The flora selected, as well, is more scrub than wildflower. The climate zone is arid not beach. It’s “Chinatown” (some scenes were literally filmed there) not “Beverly Hills 90210.”

Marion Wallin Stanley’s “Life’s Puzzle” is an interplay of rich and muted hues, straight lines and ripples, corners and curves. The title, and it’s execution, suggests the mixed media creation is an existential exploration, what’s strong in the center is diluted at the edges but perhaps that is where things are more discreet.

“Games People Play” is a collage work, layered in found examples of games, from cards to dice to crosswords. The deliberate reduction of colors keep the piece crisp.


Carol Merrick's "Ode to Van Gogh" won the Third Award.

The mixed media piece “Discovered,” by Carolann Watterson, is a measuring of contrasts, suggesting a metallic round pieced into rough-hewn rectangles evocative of blocks of stone. Recessing black bookend its visual anchor which provide an impression that it is physically holding a great weight above it in addition to holding your eye to notice a sophisticated patina providing a chromatic unity that strengthens its clean composition.

Marjorie Sornat’s work, “Retro Classics,” is a jewelry box of discreet gems, many dozens of built-up panels emblazoned and shimmery with gold-colored hues and co-centric soft rectangles evocative of the way Klimt filled space.

Among the other standouts in the densely packed exhibit are “Bird’s Nest II” a mixed media masterwork that contains an ovular representation of a nest  interlayed– rather than really woven– with found twigs and twists of copper wire which may provide some armature holding the assemblage together. Coppery egg ovals of paint populate the nest a top a found piece of palm tree litter and some egg shapes inhabit the space beyond, possibly, ostensibly falling from their perch — showing the artist didn’t put all his eggs in that one basket.

Guests survey the exhibit.

Guests survey the exhibit. Photo: Karen Young

The remainder of the canvas is a textured plane of covered grit and gel, dancing among the earth tones and splashes of red and spurts of metallic-toned paint. That active a negative space, so hued, keeps the nest grounded, otherwise for the lack of a tree it could take flight.

Debra Hinz’ “Tree By The Sea ” shows a small oil from her tree oeuvre which collides dynamic angles of trunk and canopy with a unifying texture of the artist’s palette knife. Veronica Stensby’s mixed media “Matt Escapes” is an engaging “what the heck is going on there” landscape of  tones and textures.

VIVA Art Center The show runs through August 8, and is open Wednesday through Friday from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m., and Saturday, noon- 4 p.m. 13261 Moorpark Street, Sherman Oaks, CA 91423 (818) 385-0080

James Hames is a second generation Valley native, working as a writer and editor, photographer and artist, school bus driver and Neighborhood Council boardmember — but what he really wants to do is help you replace your lawn like he’s been doing for friends, family, neighbors and strangers for decades.

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About Karen Young

Karen Young is the founder of My Daily Find.

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