What Inspires and Influences You As An Artist?
Saturday, April 18, 2020
By Gizara Arts
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What Inspires you and as Influences you as an Artist?


Please feel free to post your inspirations in the comment section of this blog! Here are my inspirations:

 The very first piece of modern art that inspired me as a child was Chicago PicassoI was only 8 at the time, and I had never been dwarfed by a sculpture, and one that was abstract in nature. My mother patiently described Picasso's work to me and said "Not everything has to look exactly as it does in real life. All things are open to interpretation and inspire artists to make new things." 

"The Chicago Picasso (often just The Picasso) is an untitled monumental sculpture by Pablo Picasso in Chicago, Illinois. The sculpture, dedicated on August 15, 1967, in Daley Plaza in the Chicago Loop, is 50 feet (15.2 m) tall and weighs 162 short tons (147 t).[1] The Cubist sculpture by Picasso was the first such major public artwork in Downtown Chicago, and has become a well-known landmark."

A painting that mesmerizes me to this day is George Inness' Sunset, Montclair, 1892. As I stood transfixed by the painting, I could actually feel the heat of the setting sun as it turns golden and melted into the landscape. I saw this painting for the first time at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC when I was just graduating from art school. It was a retrospective of the American painter, who was a part of the Hudson River School. But he took his expression a step further into the realm of painting best known as Romantic Realism. He leaves many things un-painted and obscured which imbues a feeling of mystery and magic into his moody landscape paintings. 

I used to be a realistic painter of New England Landscapes- but I have been an abstract painter now for over 30 years. My favorite painter is Joan Mitchell, and her painting East Ninth Street- 1956. This painting's explosion of color and frantic, yet intentional brush strokes embodies what I would like to achieve with my abstract landscape paintings. I study her fantastic and expressionistic paintings often- they help me loosen up my own compositions and remind me to trust my own process and creative expressions.

I traveled to Italy many years ago and wandered into the town of Orvieto- just north of Rome. In the center of town is the Orvieto Duomo: The Orvieto Cathedral Literally Took My Breath Away! The entire front facade of the cathedral is adorned with an ornate mosaic of tiny tiles.  And imbued into the mosaic are tiles made of pure gold. The church faces west and as the sun sets, the pieces of gold reflect back the golden light of the sun inviting everyone to come and see its magnificence. It is truly breathtaking. I wandered inside on a hots summer day and settled in a pew, my skin feeling cool in moments in the hushed stillness. It took me a very long tome to take in all of the beauty. I think I sat for an hour, as time stood still. I marveled at all of the people that must have come together to create such beautiful piece of history.

"Orvieto Cathedral (ItalianDuomo di Orvieto; Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta) is a large 14th-century Roman Catholic cathedral dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary and situated in the town of Orvieto in Umbria, central Italy. Since 1986, the cathedral in Orvieto has been the episcopal seat of the former Diocese of Todi as well."

 Ultimately, and most consistently, the beauty of nature inspires me. I find beauty in light, in trees, in the clouds every day. I have put one of my abstract landscapes as the last photo here it's part of The Cosmos Series. Please feel free to share what inspires you too!



The Beauty of Black & White Photography
Wednesday, April 08, 2020
By Gizara Arts
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"When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence." Ansel Adams

There are days when it is just too beautiful outside to stay inside. Nature is so grounding, and in these times of the Corona Virus, it is so important to stay centered. Nothing grounds me and comforts me like nature. Tell me how you stay centered in times like theses by posting a comment. And stay safe fellow artists!

The Cosmos Series
Tuesday, April 07, 2020
By Gizara Arts
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I started the "Cosmos Series" in the hope that the paintings would help to foster a rebirth. A rebirth in terms of my going back to color, the birth of a new series, the birth of a new beginning. I have been painting for over 30 years now, and I seldom dictate what my paintings are going to look like. But they do appear out of a somewhat peaceful place of creation. I just try to not overthink them, and get out of the way and let them come through me. Let me know what you think of this new series, I would like to complete 10. Staying at home during this Covid virus crisis, the theme of this series seems very appropriate. The hope that all will be well again. 


“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.” Einstein

Creativity amid the Coronavirus: how Local Artists are Enduring the Crisis
Wednesday, April 01, 2020
By Gizara Arts
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Artist Nico Sauceda spends time with his youngest son, Epic, 18 months, as they create art at their home in Huntington Beach on Thursday. Sauceda’s regular job is at a custom framing store, but he’s off for at least a month because of the coronavirus outbreak.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

As the coronavirus pandemic pummels industries across the globe, one group of professionals is particularly hard hit. Yet it may be the most practiced at spinning beauty from bleakness.

With honed tenacity and perseverance, many artists continue to do what they do best: make art.

“It truly is some sort of blessing in disguise,” said Nico Sauceda, 28, a painter in Huntington Beach. “I’m able to not think about the worries of work and get to focus and hone all my skills.”

State and local directives calling for nonessential businesses to close put Sauceda’s job at Gorman Framing in Costa Mesa on hold for at least a month. Now, instead of squeezing his painting into late-night hours after putting his three children to bed — sometimes staying up until 3 or 4 a.m. before returning to the store by 8 a.m. — his creativity has space to breathe.

“There is something I’m looking forward to” Sauceda said. “It’s really a gift.”

Paintings of Americana trucks, landscapes and food by artist Anthony Salvo, of Costa Mesa, at the Fe
Paintings of vintage vehicles and landscapes by artist Anthony Salvo of Costa Mesa are displayed at the 2019 Festival of Arts in Laguna Beach. The summer festival is Salvo’s biggest annual revenue source. 
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)


The struggle

But no amount of creative time can completely buffer artists from the economic suffering afflicting the arts industry.

“Now that the stock market’s taken a crash, people are not going to want to buy art because it’s sort of a luxury, it’s not a necessity,” said Anthony Salvo, 60, an oil painter who owns a studio in Newport Beach.

When the arts flourish, so do surrounding industries. Think of the crowds flooding downtown Laguna Beach after a day at the summer art festivals. Or the gallery visitors going to cafes and other shops on Newport’s Balboa Peninsula. Or the theater-goers visiting Costa Mesa for dinner and a show.

In a strong economy, art and cultural activity can contribute as much as 4.5% of the nation’s gross domestic product, as it did in 2017, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

But as the COVID-19 coronavirus crisis has burgeoned, the market to display and sell art has vanished. Musicians can’t go to theaters, restaurants or bars to play. Museums and galleries are closed. Weddings — and the related industry of designers, florists and photographers — are being canceled. The Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa announced Wednesday that all shows through April are canceled or postponed. The Laguna Playhouse is closed until further notice.

For many artists, the sudden evaporation of venues and events has decimated their income. According to an Americans for the Arts economic impact survey, artists and arts organizations and agencies across the United States had lost $3.6 billion as of Thursday.

In California, 96% of the 411 organizations that responded to the survey said they had canceled events, contributing to $5.7 million of economic loss to the industry statewide.

Salvo is holding his breath that the Festival of Arts in Laguna Beach will still open in July as scheduled. Like many festival artists, the two-month festival is his biggest show and largest revenue source of the year.

“They either buy your work there or they find you and buy it later,” Salvo said of festival-goers. “It’s just a great exposure for an artist to be in that show. So if that cancels, it’s not good.” 

‘We can help each other’

Resources for struggling creatives have popped up in various ways. On Friday, it was monetary. The $2-trillion federal stimulus deal that President Trump signed Friday includes $75 million each for the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities and $50 million to the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

The National Endowment for the Arts has compiled a list of various organizations offering resources for struggling creatives. One of those, “COVID-19 Freelance Artists Resources,” gained steam online with a series of panels about how to apply for emergency funding, quantify work lost and learn other financial best practices.

The coronavirus pandemic coincided with the California Arts Council’s annual grant program, which the council next week will consider adjusting to accommodate artists affected by the virus.

“We know the arts and culture fields are particularly vulnerable to the economic repercussions of the emergency. With public events canceled and revenue sources for organizations and individual artists severely threatened, we are among the most impacted sectors in the U.S.,” Council Chairwoman Nashormeh Lindo and Executive Director Anne Bown-Crawford said in a statement on the CAC website. “But we are also one of the most innovative sectors, and together we will find our way through this moment.”

Locally, exhibitors at the Festival of Arts have been contributing for years to a nonprofit Artists Fund to help those in their community who “don’t earn enough to afford healthcare or to put aside funds to carry them through a personal or natural disaster.” Similarly, the Sawdust Art Festival stewards an “artists’ benevolence fund” to help any working artist in Laguna Beach.

Individuals are stepping up too. Costa Mesa resident Salina Mendoza, 28, paints and designs socks and fanny packs, but during the day she works at consulting firm Brix Labs. When she began hearing from artist friends about their diminishing incomes, she decided to leverage her tech income, put her artwork on a half-off sale and donate all the proceeds to artists in need.

“They make art because they love it. This is them. This is sacred,” said Mendoza, curator and founding partner of Low Key Gallery in Santa Ana. “Whatever I can do to help my friends that are really living out their purpose, then I’m all for it.”

As of Thursday, she had collected $625 to direct to artist friends in need.


Creative solutions

Some artists are finding alternative ways to connect with their audience.

Instead of its usual gallery reception March 14, the Laguna Plein Air Painters Assn. livestreamed its annual awards ceremony. There were some electronic kinks, said Salvo, an association member, but it worked.

Following the lead of museums worldwide, the Orange County Museum of Art announced Friday that it would hold several virtual art events, including behind-the-scenes videos of artists and screenings of independent films, in collaboration with the Newport Beach Film Festival, which has postponed its 2020 run to August because of the coronavirus outbreak.

OCMA also commissioned artists to create “listening sessions” — “unique sound-based projects for an engaging at-home experience that doesn’t keep you tied to looking at your screen,” according to a news release.

Like many of his colleagues, Cody Parole, 28, relies on Instagram to promote his artwork. The Costa Mesa-based multimedia artist posts YouTube videos showing his art process, such as a recent mural painting at Victoria Elementary School.

His newly founded artists collective, Highway 1, was planning to hold a party at the end of the month to celebrate the release of a new magazine, The 27 Club. Instead, he said, it will likely be an online-only release.

“The one good thing is we do get a lot of exposure and a lot of business from just online and social media,” Parole said. “There’s definitely still opportunity, but really it’s about still trying to network and just stay on top of the trends.”

Mendoza had just launched her organization Artist Safe Spaces, which is intended to help artists find places to do live art, when the pandemic hit. Since gatherings outside are no longer permitted, she invited artists to livestream their performances on Instagram, beginning with harpist Jillian Lopez. Mendoza also is collaborating with a Costa Mesa gallery to hold a private figure-drawing class via video.

But viewing art online changes the experience. Wendy Wirth, 57, a landscape painter with a studio in Laguna Beach, doubts the success of buying online for the foreseeable future.

“There’s so much to art that isn’t digital, because there’s nuances you don’t get when you see something live in a framing, and how the light hits it,” Wirth said.

Still, she expressed faith in her fellow artists: “All the artists get very creative when there’s trying times.”


Social distancing already a way of life

For many artists, “stay at home” and 6-foot social distancing guidelines aren’t far from their norm.

“We’re a solitary people anyway,” Salvo said. “We paint by ourselves, so we’re not really meeting a lot of people in our studios.”

So as the world is changing, inside an artist’s studio, not much is different.

“You can’t really be creative on demand, but since we have to stay home ... it’s no big deal to just keep painting,” Salvo said. “I’m going to finish all my paintings. If there’s a show or no show, I’m still going to finish them.”

For some artists, the coronavirus actually has planted seeds of inspiration. Sauceda, the Costa Mesa painter, said he is grateful for the unexpected time off work to spend with his girlfriend and their three children, each in creative endeavors: floristry, photography, building and crafts. Even Sauceda’s 18-month-old colors beside his painting daddy.


“There’s definitely a lot of sadness and dark energy coming from [the virus], but the planet’s going to be regaining its strength through lack of all the stuff we’re using,” Sauceda said. “I think everyone’s going to realize the time that they took for granted spending with their families and all this positive that they’re going to see.”

He’s dreaming up a new painting: tall grass pushing through a vacant lot where an old building was bulldozed. He’s already picked a spot in Costa Mesa.

“Once that happens, plants start growing,” he said. “Even though that house has been there 10, 15 years, nature will always prevail and grow from it. ... Negative turning into a positive.”


Writer Faith E. Pinho covers Costa Mesa for the Daily Pilot. She came to the newspaper in 2018 after finishing the Pulliam Journalism Fellowship with the Indianapolis Star. Before that, she reported for Virginia public radio station WMRA and The Washington Times, and interned for WBUR public radio in Boston. She studied journalism and politics at Washington and Lee University and King’s College London. (714) 966-4627

This Pioneering Artist Is on the Brink of Her First Big Retrospective, at 98
Wednesday, August 07, 2019
By Gizara Arts
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This Pioneering Artist Is on the Brink of Her First Big Retrospective, at 98

A string of solo exhibitions will shine new light on the work of the Venezuelan-born artist Luchita Hurtado.

In the Studio With Luchita Hurtado

Laure Joliet

In her expansive oil paintings, ink-based drawings, fabric collages and patterned garments, Hurtado explores what she sees as the interconnectedness of all beings. Her paintings from the ’70s — sinuous bodies that morph into mountains, bare nipples that juxtapose spiky leaves, bulbous fruits that echo curving belly shapes — represent women as sacred beings, powerful subjects of their own lives. Hurtado also incorporated womb imagery into her work before the feminist art movement made popular the same subject matter in the late ’70s.Born in the seaside town of Maiquetía, Venezuela, in 1920, Hurtado migrated to New York at age 8. At the then-all-girls high school Washington Irving, she studied fine art and developed a keen interest in anti-fascist political movements. After graduating, she volunteered at the Spanish-language newspaper La Prensa and met her first husband, a Chilean journalist twice her age. When he abandoned her and their infant son, she supported herself by creating imaginative installations for Lord & Taylor and fashion illustrations for Vogue — at night, she created totemic figure drawings with watercolor and crayon. (In 1946, at age 26, she met and married the Austrian-Mexican painter Wolfgang Paalen, moving with her two sons to join him in Mexico City.)

“Luchita has always had this very fluid identity, which makes her art so 21st century,” says the curator Hans Ulrich Obrist, who is organizing her retrospective in London. “We have to contextualize her clearly with the historic avant-garde, because she is a contemporary of Frida Kahlo, she knew Diego Rivera and was married to Wolfgang Paalen, a key figure of surrealism — and she is a key figure of spiritual surrealism, with a connection to pre-Columbian art, but we cannot lock her in that.” Hurtado’s work blurs the lines between micro- and macroscopic worlds; she was at the forefront of not just spiritual surrealism, but also the environmental and feminist art movements. As Obrist puts it, “she navigated a century of different contexts and played an important role in all of those.” 

“Life changes you,” says Hurtado, shown here in a photograph taken by her son Matt Mullican in 1973. “I’ve been many persons, but each day, I’m completely different.” During this period, Hurtado and her husband Lee Mullican used the Barker Hangar at the Santa Monica airport as their studio. The following year, the Woman’s Building in Los Angeles hosted her first solo exhibition, including paintings that melded English and Spanish words.
“Life changes you,” says Hurtado, shown here in a photograph taken by her son Matt Mullican in 1973. “I’ve been many persons, but each day, I’m completely different.” During this period, Hurtado and her husband Lee Mullican used the Barker Hangar at the Santa Monica airport as their studio. The following year, the Woman’s Building in Los Angeles hosted her first solo exhibition, including paintings that melded English and Spanish words.CreditMatt Mullican

Hurtado possesses the grace of someone who has not spent her life promoting her art, but quietly and diligently producing it — at her kitchen table, in backyards and closets and, at one point, in a stand-alone studio in the Santa Monica Canyon (by 1951, she had relocated to Los Angeles). “I never stopped drawing, looking, living,” she tells me. “It’s all the same thing, all solving your own life.” Yet in the ’70s — when she was producing pioneering fabric collages punctuated with words including “you” and “womb” — she wrote to Noguchi to request professional favors for her third husband, the artist Lee Mullican, but rarely, if ever, did she tell him about her own practice. When asked why she didn’t openly share her paintings with artist friends, she says, “I always felt shy of it. I didn’t feel comfortable with people looking at my work.” She adds, too, that “there was a time when women really didn’t show their work.Later in the afternoon, we zip across town to a nondescript brick warehouse in Los Angeles’s West Adams neighborhood — the same building where, nearly four years ago, her studio director, Ryan Good, stumbled on nearly 1,200 works that were undated, many signed with the initials “LH.” While family and close friends were aware that Hurtado painted, her cross-disciplinary practice, distinct visual vernacular and prolific output remained largely unknown. “We didn’t know the extent of it,” says Good, while leafing through a photo album. “I knew that Luchita had made some paintings, but it was a different thing to look at her entire career.” He continues, “we know Isamu Noguchi and Sam Francis have jewelry she made, that Agnes Martin has clothes Luchita made and Gordon Onslow-Ford has some things, but it doesn’t seem like she gave other work away to the prominent artists she knew.”

 In the early ’60s, Hurtado drew enigmatic, muscular figures in vibrant ink washes. This untitled work from 1960 will be exhibited in May at the Serpentine alongside other anatomical drawings.CreditJeff McLane. Image courtesy of the artist and Hauser & Wirth.

In preparation for her upcoming shows, Hurtado’s studio registrar, Cole Root, has been sifting through photographs — self-portraits, family travel shots, abstract shadow studies — looking for clues about paintings that might have been sold or given to friends. “When I started there was no archive whatsoever,” says Root. “We’ve gone from a casual pace to moving at the speed of light.”

Part of the challenge in organizing Hurtado's archive is that she moved frequently throughout her life — early works from New York City and Mexico City, for instance, are mostly lost — and she doesn’t remember many of the pieces herself. “Some things survived, some things didn’t,” says Hurtado, “I’ve gotten use to loss.” Also, few of her works have ever been publicly exhibited. “Women artists have not had the visibility they should have and we need to protest, systematically, against forgetting — through books and exhibitions,” Obrist says. The exhibition at the Serpentine will be animated by what he calls “decisive moments or epiphanies” throughout Hurtado’s life.

“I remember my childhood more and more,” Hurtado tells me, tucking a tortoiseshell comb into her hair, which she had cut short herself the day before. She shares memories from Venezuela — hiding under fan-shaped leaves, watching crabs scuttle across the beach, devouring mangoes in a cool stream. Lately, when she wakes, she sees a vision of a pink ceiling floating above her. I imagine the series of paintings she created in 1975 in which bright-white squares are framed by mesmerizing planes of blue, goldenrod and fiery red — intended to draw moths to an illusory light, they give off a sense of ascension and expansion. “I’ve concluded that I’m going somewhere,” she tells me. “It’s not death; it’s a border that wecross. I don’t think I’ll be able to come back and tell you, but if I can, I’ll find a way. If you suddenly see a pink ceiling, that’s me.”

“Luchita Hurtado. Dark Years” is on view from Jan. 31 – April 6, 2019, at Hauser & Wirth, 32 East 69th Street, New York, hauserwirth.com.


Anna Furman is a freelance journalist who writes about art, culture and travel.