Sunday, October 6, 2013

Art and Travel

Britteny Bennett
My son and I just came back from a wonderful trip to Honduras. We traveled to the Caribbean island of Roatan - one of the Bay Islands - renown for its world class diving. While it's not relevant to my love of art and literature that I'm a certified scuba diving instructor and my son is a dive master, our love of travel to remote places combines beautifully with the adventure of diving.  

A penchant for travel is also delightfully compatible with a passion for art. Wherever I go, much of my exploration involves visits to local art museums. In remote places like Roatan, I always seek out the work of local artists, usually hoping to bring a painting home. On this trip, friends introduced us to the work of a young Honduran artist, Britteny Bennett. Her use of color and undulating shapes captures something of the essence of the Caribbean. As we left her studio, I admired one of her smaller paintings, stuck in a corner of the window, and my son bought it for me as a birthday present. 

My childhood home was filled with a diverse collection of painting and sculpture. When I was growing up, my family moved to the Bahamas, where my mother began collecting the work of Bahamian artist Amos Ferguson, whose flat, childlike images later became well known in the outsider art genre. Two paintings by Ferguson are cornerstones of my own art collection. I also treasure a drawing by Canadian artist, Miller Brittain, which belonged to my mother, as well as work by artists from Haiti, Indonesia, and other places I've traveled. 

I returned home with a renewed motivation to start painting again. The lush beauty of the island, both underwater and on land, was revitalizing and inspiring. I'm also constantly inspired by the art at galleries and museums here in Los Angeles.

I've recently reviewed a few noteworthy exhibits:

* Here's my review of a recent exhibit by collage artist Alexis Smith, who re-contextualizes found paintings, illustrations and other carefully selected objects: Slice of Life at Honor Fraser Gallery published in WhiteHot Magazine of Contemporary Art in August.

* The work of abstract expressionist Joyce Pensato, whose recent exhibition at the Santa Monica Museum of Art featured large scale gestural paintings which satirize familiar characters from popular culture, like Mickey Mouse, Batman and Homer Simpson: I Killed Kenny published in WhiteHot Magazine of Contemporary Art in September. 

I also have two reviews in the latest issue of ArtPulse Magazine: Speedy Graphito: New Worlds at Fabien Castanier Gallery and James Turrell: A Retrospective at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. I will link pdfs of these two reviews soon, because they're only accessible in the print version of this quarterly magazine.

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