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“Downtown Legends” Bring It To Art Share

June 30, 2011 by Dale Youngman in Artists with 0 Comments

The Encarta World English Dictionary describes a legend as “Somebody famous admired for a particular skill or talent.” And so it is, with the five artists being shown at Art Share LA this summer, in a 3-month exhibit entitled “Downtown Legends.” These outstanding artists were selected not only for their extraordinary artistic merit, but also for their significant contributions to the community. The five “Legends” are Lili Lakich, Andre Miripolsky, Robert Reynolds, Rick Robinson and Michael Salerno.

Lili Lakich

Lili Lakich has lived in the Downtown Arts District for 30 years. Now recognized internationally for her work in this medium, she began working in neon while a student at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York, and has continued evolving the art form for 45 years. Her signature style of assemblages composed of metal, found objects, and neon tubing has been seen in countless galleries and museums, in films and television, and numerous books, including two she has written, entitled “Neon Lovers Glow In the Dark,” and “Lakich For Light. For Love. For Life.”

In 1981, she co-founded and opened the Museum of Neon Art in her 5000 square foot studio at the corner of Traction and Third, where she still creates all her work. For 18 years, she was Founding Director of the museum, supervising the restoration of 22 vintage signs for their historic sign collection, and is largely responsible for their world-class collection of old and new neon, electric and kinetic signs.

The recipient of many awards and grants for her art, she has also been commissioned to create several important public works. One such project is the 114- foot long public sculpture for the Van Nuys FlyAway. This piece commands 700 feet of neon tubing powered by 200,000 volts of electricity, and operates 24/7. Other public art sculptures include “LA Angel” for California Plaza, and “Guardian” for the Miller Children’s Hospital at Long Beach Memorial Medical Center.

Lili has been writing a newsletter called “The Illuminator “ for 6 years, and frequently teaches workshops on “Writing with Light.”

For more information, go to www.lakich.com.

Andre Miripolsky

Andre Miripolsky is an artist whose work is also often seen on billboards, most recently in the “VIVA LA” campaign, and years ago with “Absolut Miripolsky.” His signature style of pop imagery is bright, whimsical, energetic, and downright fun. His sense of humor has also been embraced by film and music stars for their wardrobe – most notably in the often-photographed “Piano jacket” he created for Sir Elton John. He has also collaborated on projects for Bette Midler, Quincy Jones, the Rolling Stones, MTV, Mattel (Art Barbie), and done 7 years of scenic paintings for sets on “The Tonight Show” with Jay Leno. He also made basketball history by painting a mural directly on UCLA’s center court at Pauley Pavillion. His famous “Fear No Art “ button has been sold continuously at LACMA since 1985, and was once carried in over 300 museums nationwide.

Andre was born in Paris, the son of an artist who was also a Cultural Advisor for the American Foreign Service. Living in exotic locales around the world stimulated the desire to capture the beauty around him. By age eight he was working with oils, and at ten he sold his first painting to the American Ambassador of Indonesia. After graduating High School in Seoul, Korea, he headed to the California Institute of the Arts. He has an international following, and is regarded as one of Japan’s most beloved contemporary American artists, selling over 200 paintings there in the past several years through his representative galleries.

His quirky and unique style has led to public art commissions by LA’s Central City Association, including a large 3-D wall sculpture of his vision of the exploding development in downtown LA. Now, he is engaged in the re-branding of the Museum of Monterey, creating interior and exterior murals, sound panels for the auditorium, and the painting of a 275’ fence with his stylized wave motif.

Andre has lent his hand to many social causes, either through the creation of inspiring art posters, or by directly working on non-profit boards and committees. He is currently on the board of the Downtown Artwalk and the Hollywood Arts Council.

See more at www.miripolsky.com.

Robert Reynolds

Robert Reynolds is a neighbor of Lakich’s – living in the Downtown Arts District for the past 25 years. He works in multiple mediums as a painter and sculptor, using oil paint, organic materials, plaster, wood, tile, fabric, neon, and metal. His work is provocative, intense, sometimes surprisingly funny, but always powerful and brilliantly executed. Social culture, ancient archeology, religion, environmental issues, and politics inspire the incredible variety of his work.

His work has been shown internationally, from Bert Green Fine Art in downtown LA, to the Torrance Art Museum, LACMA, the Salt Lake City Art Center, the Florence Biennale in Italy and Potsdam, Germany. In 2008, he was selected to be in 2 exhibitions at the Pergamon Museum in Berlin. This exhibit featured a number of astounding and intricate large sculptures, including a large piece called the “Dragon of Marduk” and a full-size mosaic four-door sedan called “Ishtar Chariot of Nebuchadnezzar II”, a ceramic tile sculpture reiterating the pattern and ideography of the Ishtar Gate of Babylonia. This work was exhibited within the Babylon exhibition organized jointly by the National Museum in Berlin, the Louvre in Paris and the British Museum in London. It was the first solo contemporary show ever granted to a single artist.

His next show will be in July at the Continental Gallery downtown, on the corner of 4th & Main. Look also for another life-size Reynolds-model car, this one of steel wire, fabric, and resin, to be mounted to the façade of the Old Bank District parking garage on Main Street.

For more information, see www.roberthreynolds.com.

Rick Robinson

Rick Robinson moved to the Downtown Arts District in 1992 from the San Francisco Bay area to pursue a career in advertising. Making art from a very young age, he loved working in signs, letters, logos, and iconic shapes. His first piece sold was to the Ghirardelli family in 1987, in Oakland. It was called “Teeth” – a self-portrait painting of sorts….for $400.

His first real show was in 1996 at “half a dozen rose” gallery in Venice, CA, which almost sold out. That show has been followed by dozens more in the past 20 years throughout LA, Venice, Pomona, Cologne, Germany and Ghent, Belgium, which was connected to The Museum of Fine Arts in Ghent. His iconic work, which he calls “Primitive Pop” was also recently featured at Edgar Varela Fine Arts in the “Bigger Picture” exhibit, where eight local artists were asked by Curator Shana Nys Dambrot to create site-specific “impossibly, impractically, impressively large work.” No problem for Mr. Robinson, who created an enormous wood piece 12 feet tall weighing approximately 1200 pounds. His public art includes “Man Chasing Totem,” installed in Little Tokyo, the Breathe LA Wall Mural across from LACMA, and the Sister Sister Mural on Rose Avenue in Venice. His favorite material is steel, which he oxidizes, washes with coffee, rusts, enamels, or sometimes paints on the backside, creating a subtle colored glow when lit.

Rick Robinson is also legendary in the world of outdoor advertising, receiving multiple awards from the Outdoor Advertising Association of America. His direct influence caused the billboard industry to donate millions of dollars of free space to artists, at one time posting 21 artists across LA billboards for months, literally making a billboard gallery in the streets. He has also created many campaigns for non-profits, and secures free billboard space for deserving non-profits or artist –lead campaigns.

See more about Rick’s art at www.primitivepop.net.

Michael Salerno

Michael Salerno is another downtown resident with a long and significant history. A native New Yorker, he moved to Los Angeles in 1976 at the age of 28. A few years later he moved downtown, becoming one of the pioneers in its early revival. In 1985 Michael and two other artists opened the first gallery in downtown’s Old Bank District, which was then referred to as Skid Row (now known as Gallery Row.) He is a resident of the Brewery Arts Colony, and a long-term volunteer on their Art Walk Board, helping to create one of LA’s most beloved and highly- attended semi-annual art events.

Salerno is an abstract painter, creating unique all-over textural pieces that are quite something- and yet nothing – all at once. What at first appear to be dots and random lines gradually morph into a sea of infinite possibilities, allowing the viewer to determine what they are really looking at. First painting a solid ground color, between 15 and 40 layers of slowly drawn lines are added, layering color upon color, creating a mesmerizing, almost fluid effect. Each one takes months to complete, using crayon-like oil sticks to achieve the desired result.

His work has been featured in more than 200 exhibitions at galleries, universities and museums, in the U.S. and internationally, including the Museum of Contemporary Art in Minsk, Belarus, the Biennale de Paris and the Ziraat Bankasi Museum in Ankara, Turkey.

For more on Michael, visit www.michaelsalerno.com.


Art Share Los Angeles is a California 501(C)(3) non-profit organization located in the heart of the Arts District that provides free art, dance and theater classes to under-served inner city youth ages 13-24. This 13 year-old community center has changed the lives of countless young people and their families, as well as the artists who teach and exhibit there. “Downtown Legends” is on view at the Art Share gallery, Monday – Friday, 1-5 pm or by appointment. On July 7, from 7-10, there will be a panel discussion lead by one of LA’s foremost art critics and writers, Shana Nys Dambrot. Art Share will also participate in the annual Bloomfest Street Fair on Saturday July 23, opening from 2-7 pm. The closing, August 4th from 7-10 pm, will be a Benefit Reception & Silent Auction, featuring one donated work by each artist. (Ticket price $20)

Art Share is located at 801 East 4th Place at the corner of Hewitt, Los Angeles CA 90013. Free and secure parking across the street. For more information, or to make an appointment to see the work, write the curator, daleyoungman@me.com.

WORDS: Dale Youngman
IMAGES: Courtesy of the Artists

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