New California Craft Exhibition 2017 Recap

Back in June, I had the wonderful opportunity to curate a small group of ten amazing local LA-based artists that are part of a new generation that is redefining what “craft” means in Southern California.

The exhibition took place during the 2017 LA Design Festival, in the newly opened downtown center called The Row.

Here’s a little rundown of the artists with some shots taken during the show:

Tracy is one of the first people I always think of when it comes to describing what “california cool” is all about. As a designer and artist, she has an effortlessly chic aesthetic that is both relaxed and refined. Most recently, she has been working in larger scale and dimensions. For this show, she also introduced a gorgeous new pink glaze that I’m totally obsessed with. Follow Tracy on Insta here and visit her site here.

Despite their name, there are actually no “sons” (…yet!) that form Besler & Sons. Ian and Erin Besler are the husband and wife team behind this rising design house. Both of them come from a background in architecture, but rather than limit themselves to just one discipline, they have been experimenting with ideas through different mediums, one of which is currently terrazzo. For the show, Ian and Erin showcased a few of their “Props” series of objects, juxtaposed against some supersized faux terrazzo sculptures. Check out Besler & Sons on Insta and their site.

I’ve been a longtime fan of Heather’s work on Insta, but it wasn’t until I saw her pieces up close and personal at West Coast Craft a few years ago that I really could appreciate the beauty and details her pieces have. For the show, she has brought together a selection of pieces that represent some of the different themes that she explores. To learn more about Heather’s process and work, go to her site here. She is also the featured artist in our Analog 03 of The Octopian. Follow her on Insta and her site to see more!

If you’ve been following this blog for awhile, Jonathan’s name should be familiar (well, besides the fact that we share the same first name!). It’s been amazing to watch his growth and evolution as an artist over the years. From making simple pots for his succulents to now full blown incredible sculptures, his work is now featured in esteemed showrooms and galleries across the world. For this show, Jonathan put together a whole assembly of vessels and arranged them according to height. I told him it reminded me of a miniature medieval Game Of Thrones type village! Follow Jonathan on Insta and via his site.

I was actually introduced to Taidgh’s work from Jonathan Cross. One of the things that I was immediately attracted to was his incredible wood furniture pieces. How ever, his talents don’t just stop with wood as a medium. For the show, Taidgh (pronounced like “tig” in “tiger”- the “d” is silent”) also designed the rug you see above. Follow Taidgh on Insta and see more of his work on his site.

I’m sure most of you will recognize Janelle’s work. Her company, All Roads Design, has collaborated with retailers like Anthropologie, J.Crew, and several hotels. Her work was one of the first that I took notice of, and such a great example of this current craft revival. Janelle is also one of the sweetest and most genuine people I know, so to have her work in the show was such a treat. Follow her on insta here and here and see more of her work here.

Now it wouldn’t be a “California Craft” show without Cathy Callahan. To me, she’s the O.G. craft revival artist. She’s also one of the first people that I was following when I started blogging. For this show, she created a custom installation of a wall of spheres made of rope that she hand made in striking NEON colors! Be sure you’re following Cathy on Insta and visit her site here.

Karen Kimmel is one of those artists whose work always leaves me inspired. Her sophisticated sense of color and modern aesthetic never ceases to amaze. She is also another multi-talent that expresses their art through multiple mediums. Whether it’s with fabric, needlepoint, printmaking, or even performance art, her style and vision remain distinct. She recently finished an installation at the Beverly Center during their recent renovation. For this show, she explored a series of prints, inspired by the local flora of Southern California. Check out Karen on Insta here, and see more of her work here.

Lookout and Wonderland are the second husband and wife team in this show. Niki Livingston, an accomplished fiber artist, and her husband Yusuke Tsukamoto, an art director and designer, have collaborated on creating natural dyed applique flags that explore different narratives, symbolism and concepts. In addition to these flags, Niki heads up the Lookout & Wonderland studio in LA’s Chinatown, where she continues her indigo and resist dye research, weavings, as well as making handcrafted goods and teaching classes. Find out more via Instagram and their site.

This brings us to our last artist, Jim Olarte. Jim is a Laguna Beach living legend. For many years he was the owner of Local’s Only, a vintage clothing store that was THE SOURCE for anyone looking for surf and coastal style clothing. He then became a sought after stylist, working with companies like Quiksilver and Swell. Everyday he scours the beach and collects shells and the random objects that wash ashore, earning him the title of “the Modern Beachcomber.” He is also an avid knotter, creating macrame pieces out of anything that will knot. Whether it’s left over lobster trap rope, to kelp on the beach, if it can bend, Jim will try to knot it! For the show, Jim created an incredible curtain of macrame using discarded tech gear. Everything from phone cords, ethernet cables, to old circuit wire was knotted together into a massive statement on how fast technology is changing and the resulting aftermath. See more of what Jim is up to on Facebook here and here.

Finally, here’s a little walk-through video I made on Insta-stories a few hours before the show officially opened.

A big thanks everyone that came out to support the show, and a special shout out to the great folks at Secret Agent PR for organizing the exhibition and inviting me to curate! Keep an eye on the artists featured above. All of them are so special and definitely on the rise, representing the incredibly inspiring work coming out of Southern California!

Photography by Chudo Nomi Photography, with additional photos by Jonathan Lo.

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