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The 1% Solution: Show Draws Attention to City Law That Helps Fund Public Art

<i> Nancy Kapitanoff writes regularly about art for Westside/Valley Calendar</i>

To focus attention on opportunities provided by Los Angeles’ ordinance requiring developers to subsidize or include art, the Parker/Zanic Gallery has organized “1%,” an exhibit of unconventional artwork designed for public spaces by four local artists.

The show’s title refers to the amount that developers of new commercial and industrial buildings are required to pay into the Arts Development Fee Trust Fund--up to 1% of the valuation of the project--for cultural and artistic facilities, services and community amenities for the project area. Developers have the option of incorporating arts and cultural projects into their developments instead of paying into the fund.

“We want to contribute to a dialogue on what public art means to the community,” gallery director Dominica Salvatore said. The idea for the show occurred to Salvatore when Lesley Marlene Siegel came in with her photographs of apartment building names such as “Monroe Manor,” “Gayle Marc” and “Kiowe Terrace.”

Fascinated by these 1950s and ‘60s icons of local architecture, Siegel documented more than 700 of them, including apartment buildings called “Close to You” and “Only Just Begun,” named by the singing duo Karen and Richard Carpenter.

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“They were innocent and charming, and very emotional,” Salvatore said. She told Siegel to research the stories behind 10 of the signs for an exhibit and set out to formulate a show that would explore varied notions of public art.

Artist Steve Appleton shares Siegel’s passion for documenting vintage architecture, but he goes about it in a different manner. He builds sculptural collages from materials he finds at crumbling building sites--window grates, steel girders and, in this show, terra-cotta fragments of the facade of what was the “Severance” building downtown.

Reggie Amos’ yellow road signs each depict three images of the moon, arranged vertically, like a traffic signal. He presents them horizontally--here in a series of five. The artist envisions much larger versions, and possibly with many more than five, posted on a large building, in a subway station or an open field, where, he said, the work would evoke a response on a personal level.

Multimedia artist Paul Tzanetopoulos designed a floor covering specifically for the gallery space. Made from pieces of boldly colored recycled rubber and nylon, it is configured in a Scottish plaid pattern. “Most public art is displaced, heroic-sized sculpture,” he said. “I think art for public spaces should be site-specific and interactive with its environment.”

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Salvatore and the artists will be in the gallery at 7 p.m. Wednesday to discuss their work.

“1%" at the Parker/Zanic Gallery, 112 S. La Brea Ave., Los Angeles, through Sept. 14. Open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. Call (213) 936-9022.

Several years ago, Los Angeles artist Merrilyn Duzy took part in a performance staged by the Southern California chapter of Women’s Caucus for Art, in which contemporary women artists portrayed their favorite women artists throughout history. “I felt like a time traveler walking through history,” Duzy said. “I wanted to share the experience and the excitement I felt in discovering these artists.”

Duzy researched their lives and work--from Ende, a 10th-Century nun who painted illuminated manuscripts, through 20th-Century artists such as Frida Kahlo. Duzy not only developed a lecture and slide presentation on the history of women artists, but also felt compelled to commemorate the merging of past and present artists by painting portraits of contemporary artists posing as their historical favorites.

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More than 20 of these portraits are on view in the exhibit “Walking Through History: Women Artists Past and Present” at the University of Judaism’s Platt Gallery. Duzy used photographs of contemporary artists to paint her own vision, uniting them with elements from the historical artists’ works.

Linda Jo Russell, a Los Angeles area realist painter, is seen as Ende, and mixed-media artist Donna Geib as British painter Gwen John (1876-1939), whose work focuses on portraits of women.

Lucy Blake, a landscape painter and curator of last year’s exhibition “Of Nature and Nation: Yellowstone, Summer of Fire,” had posed as Italian painter Artemisia Gentileschi (1593-1652). A painter’s daughter and follower of Caravaggio, Gentileschi often painted courageous women from the Bible and mythology.

Duzy chose to paint herself as American portrait painter Cecilia Beaux (1853-1942). “I love her work,” she said. “She was a marvelous painter who worked with exquisite brush strokes and sensuous color.”

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The exhibition represents artists from many countries and cultures, including sculptor Edmonia Lewis, who is half black and half Chippewa Indian; Japanese painter Shoen Uyemura, and women from the Navajo and Kuna nations. “I hope that from this show, people are curious enough to seek out art by women so that they will be more aware of women’s contributions to our culture,” Duzy said.

“Walking Through History: Women Artists Past and Present” at the University of Judaism’s Platt Gallery, 15600 Mulholland Drive, Bel-Air, through Aug. 30. Open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Fridays. Call (213) 476-9777.

The Southern California Women’s Caucus for Art has been furthering the needs and interests of Southern California women in the arts since 1976. One can discover the depth and breadth of artwork by almost 50 of its members in the juried exhibition “Cycles,” now at the Brand Library Art Galleries in a peaceful Glendale park in the foothills.

The library, which presents 11 shows a year in its spacious galleries, exhibited a Women’s Caucus for Art membership show in 1986. The group’s application to mount “Cycles” there was accepted because, gallery director Cynthia Cleary said, “We knew the group was vibrant and exciting, one of the top groups in the Southern California area, and that it would present a good mix of work.”

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Sixty-four pieces reflect various cycles of nature and human life. “There are recurring patterns, structures and themes in life, and from them one can evolve to new levels of mastery,” said Judy Leventhal, one of the show’s organizers. “The show is a collaboration of viewpoints emerging out of our lives as women.”

Artists tackle the issue of genesis and rebirth, capture time passing and standing still, and reckon with the consequences of force in people and nature through traditional methods of painting, sculpture and photography, as well as assemblages, computer-generated paintings, earthworks and several installations. “There is such a high energy level in the work, which makes you come alive,” Cleary said. “That’s what art should be. I know that people are going to have a reaction to the work.”

Leventhal said the Southern California Women’s Caucus for Art is open to all artists, art educators and critics, including men, from San Diego to Santa Barbara, who want to receive support to create in new directions.

“Cycles” at the Brand Library Art Galleries, 1601 W. Mountain St., Glendale, through Sept. 3. Open 12:30 to 9 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, and 12:30 to 6 p.m. Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Call (818) 548-2050.

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