Art á la carte

A street-level window showcasing a solitary painting.

This is the scene that greets people who pass Current, Innocean USA's recently christened art gallery, in downtown Huntington Beach.

"We had an internal contest asking our employees to submit names for the gallery space," Executive Creative Director Greg Braun said in an email. "Two of our employees submitted the name Current, which is very fitting for our agency philosophy. The name Current was inspired by the powerful regenerative force of the flow of water in the Pacific Ocean — which is center to everything we do creatively here at Innocean."

According to Braun, staff brainstormed ideas about how to use an available storefront window space and decided on an employee-run community art gallery. Previously, the full-service advertising agency has partnered with artists, including Pinky Taylor, Marina DeBris, Alex Chiu and others.

Working with Downtown Huntington Beach Art Walk, Innocean hosts an open house to mark the start of each exhibit and welcomes the public to the agency's production studio to observe additional works of art on display.

The first artist whose work has graced the walls of Current is Southern California-based Josh Agle, more popularly known as Shag, whose work debuted during September's Huntington Beach Art Walk.

The multimedia exhibition, which celebrates Shag's characteristic use of vivid colors and modern aesthetic, comprises 10 paintings, only one of which can be viewed from the street. Eight other pieces — a combination of serigraphs, artist's proofs and printer's proofs — are presented in Innocean's studio, the site of the exhibit's launch, while another is on view in the company's lobby.

From its spot in the window, "Paradise," displayed at the Laguna Art Museum in 2007, invites the attention of passersby. The team has incorporated AstroTurf and constructed trees for a three-dimensional effect.

"We chose 'Paradise' for a number of reasons, including the fact that the painting is quintessential Shag, which is the theme of this installation," gallery curator Chrissy Borgata Luizzi said in an email about the artist's purple and green-hued interpretation of consumerism and consumption. "Vibrant and colorful, 'Paradise' was the perfect painting to be on display for our Innocean and Huntington Beach community to enjoy."

The painting shown in the lobby, "Wrap Party on 5th," is a panorama depicting the 1960s advertising industry juxtaposed with scenes from an Innocean commercial shoot.

Titled as a tipping of the hat to Innocean's oceanfront location on Fifth Street, this painting was unveiled during a Shag-themed event where "employees rocked their best mid-century mod style — because martini time never goes out of style," Braun said.

Innocean's creative and digital team also built an iTunes app that permits users to interact with "Wrap Party on 5th." Set to a musical soundtrack, this app consists of a video highlighting the artist's collaboration with the agency. Hum, Rumor Mill, South and Peligro — four music production companies that Innocean has professional relationships with — contributed custom tracks portraying a segment of Shag's painting.

While Shag will be the headlining artist until the end of January, the exhibits will be switched every quarter. Since Current is not a retail space, the paintings do not come with a price tag, although the gallery's curator is on hand to provide more information to those who express interest.

Shag did not respond to requests for comment.

The driving force behind Innocean's modus operandi is a philosophy their team refers to as "Cultural Riptide," which was reinforced by the unveiling of Current.

"Creativity needs space to thrive, and it needs the support of a lively culture," Braun said. "Simply put, a creative space makes for a creative place. And the gallery is just one example of this philosophy in action at Innocean."

Twitter: @Rmahbubani

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