DabsMyla brightens up L.A. streets with joyful murals. Now it’s getting a show of its own


Three years ago, DabsMyla invited viewers into the home with “Before and Further,” a solo show that turned a 4,000-square-foot building on the campus of furniture company Modernica into a mod abode. For its latest solo effort, the L.A.-based duo cultivated an art garden.

“Things That Can’t Be Seen,” which opens Saturday in Beverly Grove and runs through Nov. 11, begins on an exterior wall facing Crescent Heights Boulevard that is abloom with a new mural; it extends into the pebble-floored space that was once Taschen Gallery. Large paintings of flowers line back walls. Florist Amelia Posada of Birch & Bone worked with DabsMyla to build large, colorful installations that merge fake and real nature. Throughout, paintings depict fictional characters with details from the artists’ real lives dropped like Easter eggs into scenes where the outdoors creep indoors.

A lot has changed in the three years since “Before and Further,” both in the world and in the lives of Darren and Emmelene Mate, who are DabsMyla. Known for references to mid-20th century art and design, DabsMyla took more visual cues from the late 1960s and early ’70s for this show.


While Darren, 40, and Emmelene, 38, weren’t born until after that era, they see parallels between then and now. “It feels as if there is a shift in consciousness now and that was very similar to the shift in consciousness then,” says Emmelene. On a personal level, the two artists, originally from Melbourne, Australia, recently became U.S. citizens.

“We have definitely changed quite significantly in that time,” Emmelene says, “even in that single act of committing to a country.” They’re also nearing the decade anniversary of their move to Los Angeles.

“This is our favorite place ever,” Emmelene says. “We love everything about it, the culture, the history.”

All this is in the show too, which is curated by street art curator Roger Gastman.

Oversized leaves that look more like the canton of the U.S. flag signify their new citizenship. Pieces of Southern California pepper the paintings, like a wide-eyed deer based on a figure they found in Old Towne Orange.


There is a bounty of information to ingest within this show. “Things That Can’t Be Seen” refers specifically to characters DabsMyla created representing energy, emotion and memory. They exist alongside human characters in the paintings, adding whimsy to scenes rooted in reality while denoting multiple layers of meaning.

There’s an autobiographical element to the works as well, with nods to previous shows and to their process painted into the scenes. Darren says that “broadening the universe” was a goal for this show and they’ve done more than that. They’ve linked past and present, fiction and nonfiction. And in their imaginative works, the world of DabsMyla continues to grow.

“Things That Can’t Be Seen”

Where: 8070 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles

When: Oct. 20- Nov.11, open Tuesday-Sunday 12-7 p.m.