Gallery Openings: A New York cliche goes West

Matthew Blackwell with art patron

Don't gallery openings seem like a rite of passage for grown-ups? If you're invited to them, you feel like you're still attached to the buzzing epicenter of a city's culture.  Gallery exhibitions of the highest order always took place in New York, where dazed models in backless dresses held flutes of Champagne. So said the movies and Sex and the City, anyway.

Painting by Matthew Blackwell

But the art world has been evolving in L.A. for quite some time. The Downtown Art Walk is an event so great, it unifies the entire city. Venice Beach and other enclaves have since followed suit.  Young artists are taking up residence in airy lofts in our newly-revitalized downtown - and the creative energy is palpable. Writer Mary Melton from Los Angeles magazine wrote about how LACMA's outdoor art installation (among other things) have turned that part of Wilshire into our city's new piazza. And don't even get me started on my obsession with Gallery 1988.

What got me hooked on Matthew Blackwell

I went to the SENSATIONS of the Heart and Spirit exhibit in West Hollywood, and took a liking to Matthew Blackwell's art. Admittedly, I'd been a fan since discovering his bunny sculpture collection.  3D glasses hung from the ceiling, and visitors were welcome to slip them on and enjoy his Organic Mechanical paintings. Points for originality. While the colors were carefully juxtaposed to create a pop when 3D glasses were put on, it was even more interesting to see him use multiple moving parts to create the shape of an image that wasn't actually there. Also, his work feels unabashedly Southern Californian.

Matthew Blackwell and myself

While I may see something different every time I look at his paintings, there's no mistaking the way this collection makes me feel. I see a mix of pop art and graffiti. If his art had a soundtrack, it would be Sublime. If it had a taste, it would be carne asada fries after a night of drinking. It feels tribal, but looks modern. It's mechanical like a machine, but fluid like the human body. It's the beach and the inner city, all in one. It feels like like Los Angeles.

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