Cubist Curves

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LA-based painters America Martin and Dorit Moss offer 21st-century takes on the cubist female form.

Section by Hannah Ostrow

America Martin, July
“July” by America Martin at JoAnne Artman Gallery.

Home base: Born and raised in Los Angeles

Background: Trained at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston before returning to LA to study under Vernon Wilson, a professor at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, Calif.

Media of choice: Large-scale oil and acrylic on canvas; sculpture in steel, aluminum, wood and plaster; ink, pastel, oil and acrylic on paper

Previously shown in: Southern California; Taos and Santa Fe, N.M.; Austin, Texas; Rockland, Maine; Ocean Springs, Miss.; and New York

Work: Picture Picasso with an updated color palette and slightly softer, thicker brushstrokes. Factor in America’s Colombian roots, which add a dose of indigenous influence to her midcentury modernism. She paints mostly bodies, geometric and deconstructed and cubist, but the people she depicts are just as often wearing feathered headdresses and brightly patterned shirts as they are nude and lounging.

America reinterprets Picasso’s “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon,” for example, in her work “Bathers in Orange & Blue”: She brightens up the canvas with intrepid blues and golds, and the outlining is heavier, more impressionistic, while the whole composition is tighter—yet its source is still clear to anyone familiar with the Picasso original.

America’s version also takes inspiration from Paul Cézanne’s “Les Grandes Baigneuses,” which the artist cites as one of her all-time favorite images.

“Yes,” on display at JoAnne Artman Gallery from Feb. 6 to March 31, spotlights three new series from America: a “Native American series inspired by her time in Taos, N.M.; a “Bathers” series inspired by the artist’s travels in Aix-en-Provence, France—Paul Cézanne’s hometown; and a collection of still lifepaintings. Don’t miss the artist reception and opening event, Feb. 6 from 6-8 p.m. (949-510-5481;


LBM_43_AG_LGOCA_Dorit Moss_By Jody Tiongco-4
“Untitled” by Dorit Moss at LGOCA

Dorit Moss (Laguna Gallery of Contemporary Art)

Home base: Born in Israel, currently lives in Encino, Calif.

Background: Came to the U.S. at age 13, studied fashion design and fine art in LA, currently runs an arts education nonprofit called Art on Wheels
Media of choice: Mainly oil on canvas
Previously shown in: Private U.S. collections, Israel, Germany, England and Australia

Work: It’s almost like someone painted an Alberto Giacometti sculpture in front of a studio backdrop—the long, streamlined body; the exaggerated height; the inflexible form standing candidly against a bright patterned canvas. Less abstracted, more lifelike birds fly in at will, hinting at reality, as if a mindless studio assistant accidentally left a window open and this little bluebird just fluttered in and disrupted the modernist recreation.

In one work, a bird has landed on a figure’s head; the creature’s rounded, cream-colored body contrasts starkly with the bold red, geometric background. The lean, Giacometti-esque cutout figures sometimes find life of their own too—lying back, crossing their legs, lounging at someone’s side.

It’s a strangely interdisciplinary world that Dorit creates in her paintings. She doesn’t use any unusual materials, but her work feels more like mixed media, wedging itself somewhere between sculpture and painting, modern art and contemporary art, cubism and abstract figuration.

Catch Dorit’s cleverly conceived paintings at the Laguna Gallery of Contemporary Art. (949-715-9604;


Wrestling GodGlobe-trotters
Laguna Art Museum’s spring shows expand the institution’s scope outside of Southern California, with remarkable exhibitions from contemporary Israeli artist Dana Harel and prolific world-traveling painter Millard Sheets. Both shows open Feb. 23 and continue through June 1.

“Ex·pose: Dana Harel”
The latest installment of the Grace Kook-Anderson-curated “ex·pose” series, Dana Harel’s contemporary exhibition explores themes of war as it relates to femininity and masculinity, strength and tenderness. This marks the first U.S. museum exhibition for Dana, who lives and works in Tel Aviv, Israel.
Drawing on her own experiences as a soldier as well as those of her father, husband and other men in her life, Dana’s newest series, “Between Dreams and Nightmares,” negotiates what it means to serve in the military—and to leave it behind.

Dana’s exhibition, on view in the museum’s lower level, presents sculptures and mixed media drawings, including the large-scale work “Wrestling God,” inspired by the biblical narrative of Jacob’s brawl with an angel.

“Travels with Millard Sheets, 1950-1986: Paintings from the Collection of Diane and E. Gene Crain”

“Night of the Dead” by Millard Sheets

Though nominally a California artist, Millard Sheets’ paintings bring a global flavor to the locally oriented Laguna Art Museum.

Over the course of his high-octane life, while serving as an international artist-correspondent for Life magazine during World War II and an art ambassador for the U.S. State Department beginning in the 1960s, Millard traveled all over the world—from Southeast Asia, the South Pacific and India to Central America, Eastern Europe and North Africa.

On loan from Laguna Beach-based collectors Diane and E. Gene Crain, “Travels with Millard Sheets” highlights more than 20 paintings from the artist’s whirlwind years of far-flung adventures, on view in the museum’s upper-level gallery. (949-494-8971;

 Gallery Events:


John Frost, Mount San Jacinto
“Mount San Jacinto” by John Frost at DeRu’s Fine Arts

Coastal Eddy, a Gallery
Beverly Jacobs’ ceramic work confronts the environmental crisis and the repercussions of polar ice caps continuing to disappear. Her show, titled “Dis-solution,” runs through mid-February. In March, don’t miss “Transitioning Portals,” featuring paintings from Lauren Mantecon and a juried selection of pieces from ceramic art students at local high schools. (949-715-4113)

Dawson Cole Fine Art
With an opening reception Feb. 6 from 6-8 p.m., “Blanc Noir” sheds light on Dawson Cole’s selection of works in black and white, which reveal a huge range of tones and depth. The show continues through Feb. 27. (888-972-5543;

DeRu’s Fine Arts
February’s show, “Beauty and Light,” showcases early California impressionist painters Edgar Payne, William Wendt and Frank Cuprien, among others, alongside contemporary California painters David Chapple and Gerald Rahm. (949-376-3785;

JoAnne Artman Gallery
Catch the tail end of “Through the Looking Glass,” a joint exhibition from experimental photographer Brooke Shaden and digital collage artist Nadine Boughton, which continues throughout the month of January. (949-510-5481;

LCAD on Forest
Continuing through Feb. 8, the recently opened Laguna College of Art & Design exhibition space on Forest Avenue features a group showing of works inspired by students studying abroad in Germany and the Czech Republic. In February, professor Catherine Eure will curate a digital media show, followed by an exhibition in March that will focus on the college’s game arts program. (949-376-6000;

Pacific Edge Gallery
Fusing music and art, her two passions, artist Sandra Jones Campbell has created a stunning collection to be displayed at the Pacific Edge Gallery in Laguna Beach. The collection of original paintings titled “Get Jazzed” will debut Feb. 22, with a reception with the artist scheduled for 6-9 p.m. Sandra’s one-of-a-kind creative flair is evident in the works, which successfully represent her bright, expressionist style. (949-494-0491;

“Rio” sheds light on the vibrant Brazilian art scene, featuring eight emerging and midcareer artists living and working in Rio de Janeiro that were hand-picked on site by gallery owner Carla Arzente. The exhibition continues through Feb. 25. (949-715-5554;

Sandstone Gallery
Running from Feb. 5 to March 3, “Reflexions” features bold, vibrant, streamlined landscapes from KL Heagen. “Stream of Consciousness,” spanning the same time frame, highlights work from abstract painter Jong H. Ro. (949-497-6775; LBM

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