Going abroad with Gitler & ___

By Zach Rosen   |   August 5, 2021
Sunset Recess, 2021, by Amanda Marrè Brown

After so many have been isolated in our homes for the past year and a half, quite a few of us are feeling like we need some time away from home. That was just the feeling that Avi Gitler of Gitler &_____ in New York City had coming out of the pandemic. He had previously met REH GraySpace Art Gallery owner and painter Ruth Ellen Hoag in New York through a mutual friend. Ruth had similar sentiments of wanting some fresh air and will be taking the summer to paint and go back to New York where she is originally from. She asked Avi if he’d be interested in taking over the Funk Zone gallery in her absence.

When Avi was concurrently offered a residency with GONE Gallery, he started packing his bags for a two-month stay on the West Coast. Avi had not been to the area much, but after hearing more about the art scene here he wanted to bring in something that melds with the local style while also being something that the community may not be familiar with. Each of the artists he is presenting has never been publicly exhibited in the area. 

The result was seven exhibiting artists split between July and August. For July, there are three shows spread throughout the gallery. In the first room is a show co-hosted between artists Tom Sanford and Rebecca Morgan. Their work has a cohesive, caricature-like style of painting, amplifying the colors and content into a cartoonish revelry of their subjects. While their style has similarities, both artists come from much different areas which is apparent in their work — an intentional contrast by Avi. Tom is based out of New York and paints urban themes, personalities, and celebrity figures, while Rebecca is originally from Pennsylvania and focuses on the rural culture and characters of Appalachia. Both artists have a distinct sense of humor in their work. After Party by Rebecca depicts a disembodied head laying in a bed of daisies as a bird feasts upon the refuse from last night’s celebration splattered across the scene. 

The second July show highlights the recent works by Amanda Marrè Brown in her series “Gloaming in Wyoming.” She painted these works during a four-week artist residency in Wyoming where she studied the changing light and weather of the surrounding scenery. Although painted elsewhere, the simplified lines and flattened forms almost remove them from location, allowing the viewer to focus on the shading and defining lines that can be found on any horizon. The back area hosts the last featured artist, Damien Hoar De Galvan, and his series of mixed-media sculptural works. These intricate wood assemblages are composed of many pieces of scrap wood puzzled together to create the final form. The July exhibits are currently up in GraySpace Gallery and will run until August 1. 

The August exhibits will have an opening reception at GraySpace Gallery on Saturday, August 7, from 5 to 8 pm. There will be five featured artists between four different shows. Once again there will be a co-hosted show featuring two artists with a connected theme. George Boorujy and Rachel Ostrow are both painters based out of Brooklyn and collectively their work draws the viewer both inward and outward. George’s paintings have an ornithological theme done in a hyper realistic style that has been internationally commissioned and revered. Rachel produces abstract oil paints that seem to flutter and float on the canvas in a mesmerizing maze of colors and textures that evoke memories and one’s imagination while gazing at the stars. 

One of the other solo shows is by Esteban Ocampo-Giraldo, an artist based out of Colombia. Part of the goal of his work is to help remove the negative stereotypes about his country, drawing attention to its landscapes, activities, and everyday objects. He will be displaying some of his landscape paintings that are either painted completely from memory, or sometimes reference real places. These scenic reflections celebrate the beauty of the land and how the artist remembers and views it. The next artist, Sean Lotman, is originally from Northern California and attended UCSB, but now lives in Japan. His range of ethereal composite photographs are produced in a darkroom above his wife’s soba shop that dates back to 1477 AD. There will also be a series of paintings exhibited by Spanish artist Juan de la Rica that feature his distinctive bold colors and semi-flattened perspective portraying an array of whimsical sites and still lifes. In August, the Florida-based artists Boy Kong and Kirza Lopez will be doing an artist residency in town, with their work to be displayed mid-month. 

Visit grayspaceart.com and gitlerand.com for more information on the artists and exhibits.


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