This new gallery in L.A. is forging connections between Bay Area and SoCal artists
Last November, Oakland-based Good Mother Gallery hosted a buzzy inaugural group show in Los Angeles featuring the work of 20 artists, mostly from the Bay Area and L.A. On opening night, the space overflowed with a crowd of creatives from both regions of the state who came to see the art and stayed to talk about it.
Over the last near-decade, Good Mother Gallery has helped elevate the Bay Area’s emerging art scene. Now, it’s set its sights on L.A. The gallery’s second and larger location in Los Angeles brings its roster of Bay Area artists, including Landon Pointer and Morgan Corbitt, as well as a community-centric ethos, to a new audience. Located downtown near the 6th Street Viaduct, the gallery is on the first floor of a building where artists also reside in live-work spaces.
The group show “People, Places, Things” opened at Good Mother Gallery the first weekend of January. It features figurative, landscape and still life works by five emerging L.A. and Bay Area artists that underscore the talent in the gallery’s expanding community. It presents vignettes of California city life, highlighting minute details of architecture and figures sourced from the artists’ day-to-day observations, communities, personal histories and identities.
Corbitt’s zoomed-in details of Bay Area building facades offer a bird’s-eye view of city streets obscured by the wings of pigeons. On the gallery floor, Oakland-based Michael Diamond’s life-size sculptures of birds gather in a flock; a single papier-mâché pigeon nestles in the ceiling rafters. In the vibrant painting “You Better Work, 2022,” artist Brea Weinreb’s friends leisurely gather, music blaring and chests bared, at San Francisco’s Dolores Park — a site of queer bliss she used to frequent before moving to L.A. And one of Josh Cloud’s three sculptures, “Spring Showers, 2022,” crafted from ceramic, wire, flocking and cotton branches, animates the center of the gallery.
For L.A. artists, Good Mother’s presence is a welcome place to show work and meet like-minded creatives in a scene where a small pool of established artists are often given outsize exposure. “Recently I’ve noticed more of a grassroots effort to show work in L.A.,” says the Southern California-based ceramicist Cloud. “Instead of waiting around for bigger galleries to give people of color and queer people the opportunities to show work, why not do it ourselves? We’re doing something together and that feels more important.”
In a climate where many young artists move back and forth between the Bay and L.A. and even more fluidly exchange ideas online, the gallery’s two locations intend to function as a bridge connecting artists on opposite sides of California. Good Mother hopes this cross-pollination can help promising California-based artists grow their collector base and reach a wider audience. “It felt really hard to make money as an artist in the Bay, especially if you were young,” says Weinreb, who joined Good Mother after she left the Bay and landed in L.A. last year. Soon after her move, Weinreb found a studio in a large artist compound downtown that is home to about 50 artist studios. “There was an immediate community and a ton of local galleries big and small. Everyone is really excited to connect,” she says.
“The distance is helpful because I’m able to go down to L.A. to tap into the scene, make connections and see everybody, but then I can go back home to Oakland and be in my own little world in my studio,” adds Pointer, who is showing for the first time in L.A. at Good Mother. The artist’s trio of paintings on display at the gallery blend influences from his Oakland community with trailblazing Black pop culture icons, like Dennis Rodman. “Good Mother opened up a whole new world for me,” he says.
The gallery’s co-owners and directors, brothers Ian and Jared Jethmal and Vanessa Indies, list L.A.’s booming art scene as the main reason for the expansion; the Southern California metropolis has more galleries, more collectors, more opportunities to be seen — a sentiment echoed by the recent wave of New York galleries expanding to L.A. as well. The Jethmals originally opened their Oakland location in 2014, named after their mother who raised her four sons as a single parent, as a way to champion their artist friends in the Bay Area and bridge the gulf between small DIY spaces and larger galleries. The Jethmals originally co-founded the gallery with their good friend Calvin Wong, who moved on to pursue his art career as a ceramicist in 2017. Indies joined Good Mother full time last year to help open the L.A. location.
“When we started we were surrounded by a lot of new, up-and-coming artists. We all came up at the same time; there was a kind of renaissance,” says Jared. “Since then, we’ve grown with that scene. A lot of the artists that we were showing at the very beginning have now gone on to big-time places in their careers,” like painters Mario Ayala, Jeffrey Cheung and Jahlil Nzinga. Ayala, whose work was featured in Good Mother’s first show in Oakland, recently had a solo show in New York at Jeffrey Deitch.
The gallery hopes to follow an upward trajectory of its own without losing sight of its roots. “The original goal hasn’t changed since we started, and I don’t think it ever will,” says Ian.
“We don’t want to follow the mold of a typical blue-chip, high-end gallery. You can make the sales, do the business properly and also have fun and be creative and weird with it,” adds Jared.
In recent years, artists in Good Mother’s Bay Area circle, such as Cannon Dill, Andrew Barnes, Guillaume Ollivier and Maggie Wang, in search of more space and opportunities, made the move to Los Angeles. Good Mother later followed. “In the last eight years, we’ve built enough of a community framework for us to go down to L.A. and actually do something meaningful,” says Ian, noting that they found their new location through friends who scouted the area.
The gallery is also working with Southern California curators to curate shows and events throughout 2023 featuring California artists and beyond. Mixed-media artist Paul Flores, born and raised in L.A., is curating a large group show this summer. Good Mother is also partnering with longtime friend and director of Tlaloc Studios Ozzie Juarez, a local artist who was showcased in the gallery’s inaugural L.A. exhibition, to place local, emerging artists in exhibitions at both spaces throughout the year.
The founder of Tlaloc Studios sees working alongside others as integral to his process as an artist.
In April, Good Mother will present a solo show featuring L.A. native Daniel Antelo, an artist who creates large-scale oil paintings, billboards and murals throughout the city, including his grayscale, photorealistic mural of Kobe and Gianna Bryant in East Los Angeles. The gallery is also planning a fashion pop-up at the end of the month with Bay Area fashion designer Tommy Bogo, who worked on community fashion events in Oakland with Good Mother before moving to Southern California. “We’re trying to tap into the scene and get our arms in as many places as we possibly can so that everyone feels included into what we can possibly do in L.A.,” says Ian.
“It is all about expanding while keeping the soul of the space because that’s what makes Good Mother Good Mother,” says Pointer. “And that’s why they have such a strong community, that’s why they’re so successful: At the heart of it all, they care about the people and people care about them.”
'People, Places, Things'
Where: Good Mother Gallery, 1212 S. Santa Fe Ave., Los Angeles
When: Wednesdays-Saturdays 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Closed Sundays-Tuesdays. Through Jan. 28.
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