HURRAH! LA RAW – Natural Born Artists
By Jennifer Bentson
Take those fingers off that hot cup of coffee! This is hotter, and has a bigger jolt. It’s RAW- Natural Born Artists. Trade in the barista for a hot band, cool lights, and sizzling new artists. Art of all forms surrounded you at the RAW Event held in Downtown Los Angeles on February 18, 2015. RAW Natural Born Artists is dedicated to provide independent artists of all creative genres with the tools and exposure needed to inspire and cultivate creativity. RAW specifically showcases artists within the first 10 years of their career to provide a platform to be seen, heard, and loved. This is not your average art show. Costumes, Models, Make-Up Artists, Illustrators, Musicians, Photographers, Film, Sculpture, and more filled your senses with a fantastic feeling of artists sharing and showing. The event was a cornucopia of new concepts and audience participation. You could have your make up done, try on the newest outlandish crochet costume, or watch a sidewalk artist create a new painting. All of this while listening to eclectic music ranging from a yodeling country singer to rhythm and blues. And there was a dance floor where your feet just had to tap out the beat. All of this while giant mirrored stars created by ______ hug overhead casting patches of light throughout the two story cathedral of art.
Over 30 artists showed and sold artwork during the LA Art District RAW Event at the Exchange LA, 618 S. Spring St. We enjoyed the latest from Crochet Rochet who crochets exotic pieces to wear from your head to your toes, or the racing art of J. Carlos that elicits feelings of being at the wheel of that really hot motorcycle or race car. Models adorned the event watching from pedestals through their feathers and Hollywood Makeup transformations. Yeah, I threw away that designer coffee and grabbed a signature cocktail while I spoke with many of the artists.
Lindsay Williams greeted me on the ground floor with her black and white posters of skulls. Lindsay said this is her first show but she has loved sketching skulls for years. Her originals and prints were for sale and many folks took advantage of an opportunity to get a great piece of artwork at a deal. We both agreed that this was a great opportunity for an artist and the fun factor of the Event made it a party atmosphere.
Jenna Dee Dargenzo caught my eye with her delicate images on wood. Standing nearby was an older gentleman who looked like her. Oh, that’s my father, said Jenna, he makes cabinets and gives me his scrap wood for my artwork. Jenna is no stranger to the arts and fashion district of Los Angeles; by day she is a fashion designer, by night she creates images on totes, zipper bags, as well as the illustrations on the wood. She said she liked RAW and said everyone has been warm and friendly.
Joe Black, a tall painter in the corner of the second floor stood and smiled while showing his paintings hung with clothesline. He handed me a pair of 3D glasses so I could see the images in his paintings floating through space. When I asked James where the inspiration for his art came from, he told me about his visit to a local amusement park. He said, in a jovial manner, that he had visited the park during Halloween and was given a pair of 3D glasses for an exhibit. He kept the glasses. He said he would wear the glasses at home and just look around. Then he painted images and some were better with the 3D glasses. This was the start of his series of paintings, better with 3D glasses.
Also upstairs was Kristine Augustyn who paints from her inner soul creating landscapes and beautiful abstracts. The work was so alive you could feel the chloroform surging through the leaves. Her work is very organic and the colors are very vibrant.
Downstairs I visited Douglas Ito’s booth and received a booklet of his fun fanciful paintings. The downstairs gallery was full of people enjoying the experience. It was a bustle of fellow artists meeting the newest artists in Los Angeles.
I visited the booth of Marina Bonboiglio, filmmaker and photographer. Her images took me to the deserts of my mind. The inventive characters in her photographs stimulated a personal mythology. We each have our own and sometimes an artist can tap into that collective of images with such work as Marina’s. I treasured her landscapes and costumed subjects. I wished I could have been in the photo.
Karla Coronado not only creates the images of luscious women, but she seems to put a little bit of herself in each image. What woman doesn’t enjoy a great red lipstick for her alter ego? Karla captures that essence of what is fun about being all dressed up. The women in her images are so bright and seemed to jump out from the wall and dance through the hallway of LA RAW. She loves to experiment with the undulation of form, headdresses, and whatever else is in her mind. Her skill at illustration is lovely. It makes being a woman fun to see her art.
In the entrance, in a room of her own, is glass artist, Nanci Schrieber-Smith. The glass sculptures are truly elegant with whimsical names. A closer look at the sculptures revealed that these were some common wine glasses, saucers, etc., fused together to make incredible statements. I loved her interpretations and especially the fact that I could recognize some common kitchen glassware.
The night ended, and I traveled the one block to my car through the dingy sidewalk and shabby storefronts of Los Angeles. I am renewed that artists don’t have to stand on street corners and sell their art, now they have a great way to kick off a fabulous career. LA RAW! Hurrah!