Artists & Galleries

Share this:

International Flavor

Laguna galleries attract talent far beyond the reaches of the canyon road: May alone brings light
to the works of Mexico City-based Aníbal Catalan and Belgium-born Anja Van Herle.

Section by Hannah Ostrow

Aníbal Catalan

Supremat 2, Aníbal CatalanHome base: Born in Iguala in southern Mexico; lives and works in Mexico City.

Background: trained as an architect before delving into studio arts.

Media of choice: Primarily acrylics on canvas, as well as site-specific installations, sculptures, photographs, ink drawings and renderings created through a variety of computer-aided design programs.

Previously shown in: Los Angeles, Mexico City, Ireland, Beijing and Seoul.

Work: Imagine the geometric abstraction that dominated the early part of the 20th century, reconceived for the 21st: color-and-line 2-D is transformed into a chaotic and textured 3-D world. There’s some sort of line to be drawn between Aníbal’s work and Russian art movements that arose in and around the 1917 revolution. Think constructivism: Vladimir Tatlin’s tower, designed but never realized, iron and steel spiraling upward, reaching for the Bolshevik’s utopian vision. Think suprematism, with its ascetic geometry and pure forms that strove for the expression of  “pure artistic feeling” over any sort of real-world representation.

But even if Aníbal is, like the suprematists, striving for pure artistic expression, what, exactly, does he paint? Let’s call them abstracted architectural landscapes. They’re not quite cityscapes because the blueprint structures seem to exist without any earthly context, floating in the stratosphere of his canvas. He also clearly draws inspiration from modernist architects, specifically, according to the artist himself, the experimental artist-architect Lebbeus Woods (large-scale, free-form, heavy-duty metalwork adorns the sides of buildings, like Frank Gehry’s Disney Concert Hall but less lucid). Aníbal’s works sit somewhere between unapologetic austerity and colorful anarchy, artfully rendered by an architect’s rational hand.

View Aníbal’s latest paintings, photographs and installations in his upcoming solo show, “Out of Order,” running at Saltfineart throughout May and June. Stop by for the opening night reception on May 2 from 6 – 9 p.m. (949-715-5554;

Anja Van Herle

Red Lips, Fingertips, Anja Van HerleHome base: Belgium, born and raised; relocated to LA in 2003.

Background: MFA in painting.

Media of choice: Large-scale (up to 5 feet by 5 feet) acrylics on panel.

Previously shown in: New Orleans, Beverly Hills, Hawaii, Houston and Brussels.

Work: It’s high-gloss, high-glam, highly stylized close-range fashion portraiture, although calling it portraiture might be misleading because Anja doesn’t appear to be painting real women so much as characters. It’s as if the models from the height of Richard Avedon’s fashion photography have been digitized, torn from the covers of 1960s Vogue and translated for the Internet era. Think of that iconic Avedon photo from a 1965 Bazaar cover, featuring Jean Shrimpton with eyelashes that just won’t quit, sporting a DayGlo pink headpiece. Now imagine that image has been faxed, scanned, compressed and Photoshopped until it lost all traces of reality: The lips are shinier; the skin is smoother. These women have taken on the Mylar sheen of a Jeff Koons balloon animal sculpture.

The artist says these portraits seek to capture the complexity of human emotion. To some extent, despite the shiny, cartoonish aesthetic, the faces in Anja’s works are rendered in a vaguely purist light: These women are emotionally naked, removed from all real-world contexts, in front of blank white backdrops, blown up to a larger-than-life scale. Then again, it’s hard to look seriously at the supposedly ambiguous emotions of women who seem like such caricatures; women with frosted lips and sunglasses tans, holding diamonds in front of their eyes. Either way, it’s an undeniably good time. Catch Anja’s work as part of “Lost In Translation,” a two-person show at JoAnne Artman Gallery May 15 – June 30. (949-510-5481;

Artist in Residence Program at Pacific Edge Hotel

The Pacific Edge Hotel has teamed up with Laguna Outreach for Community Arts (LOCA) to launch a new Artist in Residence program in which a local artist each month will teach workshops, offer live painting demonstrations and exhibit his or her work at the hotel throughout the month.

April welcomes Laguna artist Sheryl Smith Seltzer, who works in monotypes, oil paintings and Conté drawings. Sheryl hosted her workshop earlier this month, but her exhibition is on display through May 1.

May brings plein-air painter September McGee, whose work will be on display through June 5. Don’t miss the opening night reception May 2 from 4:30 to 6 p.m. The evening’s program boasts a live painting demonstration from the artist, a chance to win a free stay at the hotel and the opportunity to sign up for September’s workshop. The art class, which takes place May 7 from 6:30 to 8 p.m., will focus on oil pastel techniques and capturing ocean sunsets. The $25 registration fee includes wine and a finished work to bring home. Advanced registration by phone or online is required. (949-363-4700;

Screen shot 2013-03-25 at 4.45.53 PM

New Gallery Showcases Inventive Contemporary Frescos

Orange County-based painter Hugo Rivera recently celebrated the grand opening of his eponymous gallery in a Coast Highway space previously occupied by the Hat Box.

By his own measure, Hugo has a monopoly on his medium: contemporary frescos. In an attempt to reintegrate the postmodern with its roots, the artist looks back to the medium of Michelangelo, working here with organic lime plaster on wood to create expressive works that fuse traditional figure drawing and contemporary figuration.

The Hugo Rivera Gallery features, alongside Hugo’s frescos, abstract mixed media works from Juan Z. Cervantes. (949-813-9198;


Dawson Cole Opens Location in Palm Desert

Dawson Cole Fine Art has opened a new space in Palm Desert, adding to its Laguna Beach and Carmel locations. Specializing in contemporary art from West Coast masters, the gallery’s showcase artist is renowned sculptor Richard MacDonald, whose son directs the Laguna Beach and Palm Desert spaces. The gallery opened in February with an artist reception and a Cirque du Soleil-inspired performance, in association with works in Richard’s acrobatics series. Proceeds from the event benefited the nonprofit Free Arts for Abused Children. (760-303-4300; LBM

 Gallery Events


In April, the Laguna Gallery of Contemporary Art spotlights contemporary furniture designer Jeremy Grubb, whose woodwork jumps the divide between function and art. In May, catch Shaleeka Ahuja’s abstract acrylics inspired by Rothko and Pollock as well as by the vitality of the artist’s native New Delhi. (949-715-9604;

Townley Gallery

Townley’s new group show, “Journey of Existence,” features 20 of the gallery’s resident artists, including Dale Kobetich, a local ocean photographer who works with a hand-built camera that shoots underwater and above water simultaneously. The show will continue throughout 2013. (949-218-0903;

Exclusive Collections Gallery

April 20 and 21, Exclusive Collections highlights painter Daniel Ryan, whose charming “tree-scapes” tap into on the mystical spell that nature holds over us. (949-715-8747;


Through the end of April, Saltfineart is exhibiting a new series from Victor Hugo Zayas. “Aire” presents a series of paintings as part of the artist’s ongoing project, Grid, which is inspired by Los Angeles International Airport and the phenomenon of flight. (949-715-5554;

JoAnne Artman Gallery

“Seeking Future” will continue through May 15, with new paintings from Rimi Yang, who lives in Santa Monica by way of Ohio and Japan. JoAnne Artman Gallery follows up with “Lost in Translation,” featuring Anja Van Herle alongside Alberto Murillo’s colorful resin abstractions. (949-510-5481;

Pacific Edge Gallery

Beginning May 18, Pacific Edge Gallery presents Jacobus Baas, featuring plein-air canvases from the coasts of California, Hawaii and Maine. Stop by for the opening reception May 19 from 5 to 8 p.m. (949-494-0491;


“Microscopic Hinges,” running throughout April, features five artists including Russ Pope, who brings his lightly macabre visuals back to AR4T. In May, “Cloud Hunters,” brings illustrator Gomez Bueno and surfer-model-photographer Kassia Meador. (949-988-0603;

CES Contemporary

“Device,” an exhibition featuring Southern California product and accessory designers opens April 20 and continues through May 2. Beginning May 4, CES presents “White Space,” from Czech acrylic-on-linen minimalist painter Ira Svobodová. (949-547-1716;

Sandstone Gallery

Throughout April, Sandstone highlights conceptual, contemplative landscapes from Victoria Porcello as well as new abstract acrylics from longtime bronze sculptor Howard Hitchcock. (949-497-6775;

Avran Art + Design

Avran welcomes James C. Leonard, whose dynamic impasto abstracts have earned him distinctions from San Diego’s Museum of Art to Miami’s Art Basel. The show will run through June 5, with wine, hors d’oeuvres and live music from 6 to 9 p.m. June 2. (949-494-0900;

Fingerhut Gallery

“Hats Off to Dr. Seuss!” features Dr. Seuss’ never-before-seen hat collection May 17 to June 2. The exhibition will show Dr. Seuss’ little-known “Secret Art Collection,” estate-authorized works adapted from Ted Geisel’s drawings, paintings and sculpture, also available for acquisition. (949-376-6410;


Share this:



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here