How many galleries do you need to call Highland Avenue a real art corridor? One more space is opening on the street, not far from Regen Projects, Redling Fine Art, Perry Rubenstein Gallery, Overduin and Kite, and the future home of Michael Kohn.
Diane Rosenstein Fine Art has taken over and rehabbed what was once a piano showroom at 831 N. Highland Avenue, north of Melrose. Its first show in its new location, co-curated by L.A. artist James Welling, is "The Black Mirror." Opening night is Saturday.
An exploration of black reflective surfaces, the show includes work by 20 artists and spans four decades, from a Louise Nevelson black-on-black wood door from 1976 to a John McCracken black fiberglass "plank" from 1988 to a monumental graphite drawing by Nancy Rubins from 2007. More recent work includes photographs by younger artists such as Liz Deschenes, Matthew Brandt and Farrah Karapetian.
"I'd like to find a way to bring some artists to L.A. who aren't always shown here and present them along with important L.A. talent like Matthew Brandt and Farrah Karapetian," said Rosenstein, the gallery founder.
The title of the show comes from Henri Matisse's 1918-19 painting "Anemones au Miroir Noir." The canvas shows a vase of flowers positioned in front of a gilded mirror with dark, tinted glass like the so-called Claude glass that painters used in past centuries (and Matisse himself experimented with) to heighten perceptions.
She credits Welling with coming up with the concept: "He told me that he had always had a particular interest in the concept of all-black photographs."
Welling says he's been thinking about the show for about 40 years now, since he was a freshman at Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh and a friend gave him an overexposed, all-black photograph with a note on back: "Prints to take out in the snow."
A more recent source of inspiration, he said, was a photo series Jose Alvaro Perdices made in sex clubs of people smoking cigarettes — "very dark rooms with trails created by the light of the cigarette. I really liked those pictures and started thinking about monochromatic photographs."
He got to know Rosenstein, who first opened a gallery on Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills last spring, after visiting her space to see a show by abstract painter Cleve Gray. "I really loved the show — and the next show on Color Field painters as well."
One thing led to another, and to their current collaboration. Welling says he chose most of the photographs, while Rosenstein made suggestions for sculpture and painting.
Before opening the gallery last year, Rosenstein worked as an art consultant (and remains the art advisor to the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills). Future shows will be a mix, she says, between primary and secondary market (read: resale) material.
As for other movement in the area, Thomas Solomon Gallery has confirmed it had been looking at a place on Highland that is no longer available. Meanwhile, Hannah Hoffman, a new gallery owner who once worked for Gavin Brown in New York, says she will be opening sometime this spring at 1010 N. Highland, while prominent L.A. gallerist Michael Kohn is planning to move from Beverly Boulevard to 1227 N. Highland this summer.
'The Black Mirror'
Where: Diane Rosenstein Fine Art, 831 North Highland Avenue, L.A.
When: Open Tuesday to Friday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Saturday 11a.m.-6 p.m.
Contact: (323) 397-9225 or http://www.dianerosenstein.com