The Examiner- Los Angeles, Kimberly Brooks Paints Masterful Artworks for The Stylist Project

March 3, 11:50 AM LA Women’s Style Examiner Laurie Brucker

As we all know, fashion is an art form. Designers essentially create living breathing works of art that grace our the runways. Haute Couture, of course being the finest and highest of this art form. Well what about stylists? Are the wildly creative fashion visions that stylist’s create, considered art too? I would say, yes! It takes a deeper sense of creativity to put looks together like stylists do. For film and music, for editorials, and especially for our rising starlets, those creations do not come easy. Well artist Kimberly Brooks, absolutely sees the work of stylists as art and is now immortalizing them and their art, as… ART! Welcome to the “The Stylist Project” almost two years in the making Kimberly Brooks painted portraits of Los Angeles’ top stylists, editors and fashion tastemakers. Debuting this past weekend at the Taylor De Cordoba Gallery on La Cienega. I went in for a first look and glimpse into the artists that are now art.

Each portrait is brilliant and fascinating. The colors are vivid, juxtaposing, strategic and give you glimpse into the essence of each subject. The details are intricate. There is life in each portrait. Movement. And with the stylists, styling themselves, with each portrait Kimberly Brooks brought to light, not only her internal creative process, but the creative process of each subject. All very different and all very defining. All very very fabulous.

Plus there is something so telling about Kimberly’s choices of portrait subjects. Truly, this is a presentation of the influences of today. From the famous and infamous Rachel Zoe, to Madonna’s very incognito costumer Arianne phillips (who happen to also do the costumes for my favorite movie…Hedwig and the Angry Inch), to designer Jeremy Scott, to Janie Bryant, costumer for the hit TV show Madmen, to fashion journalist Rose Apodaca, to vintage connoisseur and Decades owner Cameron Silver and finally to celebrity stylists Jessica Paster, Elizabeth Stewart, Jeanne Yang, and Katherine Ross. These are the people calling the fashion shots. They are top influencers who live most of their lives behind the scenes (…sans Rachel Zoe), and are now being brought to the forefront.  I can only imagine that  being immortalized in a Kimberly Brooks portrait must be the best reward for all the uncredited work these talented fashion tastemakers have created and I am sure, subconciously influenced us all.

You can see Kimberly Brooks, “The Stylist Project” now through April 3rd at the Taylor De Cordoba Gallery.

Los Angeles Magazine – Coming Attractions Feb 2010

EXHIBITION

Fashion Fronts (pg. 32)

Transforming people into art is all in a day’s work for stylists Rachel Zoe and Jessica Paster and costume designer Arianne Phillips, so it’s appropriate that they get the same treatment in a new exhibition. With The Stylist Project, a show at Culver City’s Taylor De Cordoba gallery, Venice painter Kimberly Brooks renders 12 fashionistas in oil (that’s Zoe, above), with nods to John Singer Sargent, Henri Matisse, and David Hockney.  Additional portraits of other chic personalities (Vogue’s Grace Coddington, Elle’s Joe Zee) will travel to New York.  Feb 27 – Apr 3.  Go to www.taylordecordoba.com.

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Kimberly Brooks had a great idea recently.  The local, Venice-based painter decided to look into the art that plays a role in our everyday lives and the people holding the cards behind it.  She looked beyond museum shows, beyond advertisements, and into the world of fashion that is so often considered less of an art form and more of a necessity.  The men and women working behind the scenes to make our world a touch more glamorous are artists who recognize that the necessity of fashion can be one of the more creative enterprises in our lives and it can be one that makes (or doesn’t make) the right impression.

In her latest series of paintings, called “The Stylist Project”, Kimberly Brooks scoured the world of stylists, costume designers, and Creative Directors to delve deeper into the minds of who exactly is dressing our most photographed celebrities and our most watched characters in TV and film.  She painted Vogue’s Creative Director Grace Coddington and Mad Men costume designer Janie Bryant in their most comfortable settings (albeit in their most fabulous clothes).  She painted Elizabeth Stewart, a stylist for the New York Times Magazine and Harper’s Bazaar, with a gorgeous and colorful palette and she captured the nervy and frazzled essence that is Rachel Zoe.

We got a chance to sit down with Brooks to discuss just what went into “The Stylist Project” and the upcoming show at Taylor de Cordoba gallery in Culver City.  We learned very quickly that stylist is a pretty loose term to us amateurs, but in the business, a stylist can be anyone who fashions a photo shoot (often-times called a Creative Director) to someone who styles a celebrity for a red carpet event.  Brooks’ colors and masterful way with a paintbrush allows us into this inner sanctum of fashion via the world of art – it’s almost as if we know them just by looking at these paintings.

Check out our video interview and go say hi to your new friends (the stylists, of course) at the opening reception at Taylor de Cordoba gallery on Saturday evening (February 27).  The show runs through April 3, 2010.  For more information, please click here or call (310) 559-9156.

Angeleno- Who Says Fashion Isn’t Art?

Who says fashion isn’t art?  For her latest exhibition, The Stylist Project, painter Kimberly Brooks enlisted a group of renowned Hollywood stylists to outfit themselves and pose for portraits.  “I started thinking of fashion as a language.” says the artist, whose previous work has focused on subjects closer to home (think paintings of her mom’s friends in the 70s, or images of her summertime memories).  This time, her inspiration came while attending a lecture at LACMA that discussed Coco Chanel’s influence on the work of Henri Matisse.  Brooks scouted out those whom she thought were most influential “style makers” in L.A., including Arianne Phillips, Rose Apodaca and Rachel Zoe.  “Everyone is an artist in some form or another — not everybody is a painter, but everyone does get dressed in the morning.”  Feb 27 – April 3.  Tues. – Sat., 11am – 6PM. At Taylor De Cordoba Gallery.  2660 S. La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles, 310.559.9156 or taylordecordoba.com

VOGUE – Italia

March 4, 2010. Artist Kimberly Brooks celebrated the opening of her current exhibition The Stylist Project in Los Angeles last night… Vanity Fair and Dior co-sponsored the event, as guests including Ginnifer Goodwin, Abbie Cornish, Liz Goldwyn and Marisa Tomei… joining fellow stylists Arianne Phillips, Cameron Silver and Lisa Edelstein, among others. – Linlee Allen

The Stylist Project – Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

“KIMBERLY BROOKS: THE STYLIST PROJECT”

February 27 – April 3, 2010 Opening Reception: Saturday February 27th, 2010 6pm – 8pm

Taylor De Cordoba is pleased to present The Stylist Project, a solo exhibition of new oil paintings by Los Angeles-based artist Kimberly Brooks. The exhibition will run from February 27 – April 3. The gallery will host an opening reception for the artist on Saturday, February 27th from 6pm-8pm.

The Stylist Project is the first in a series of portraits of renowned stylists and fashion industry insiders who have styled themselves and posed for the artist. After delving into deeply personal subject matter for her last two exhibitions – “Momʼs Friends” in 2007 and “Technicolor Summer” in 2008 – Brooks shifts her focus outward with this new body of work. Here, she broaches the red-hot themes of fashion, style and those omnisciently responsible for setting the trends.

This exhibition features portraits of LAʼs most influential style-makers including celebrity stylist Rachel Zoe; costume designer and Madonnaʼs personal stylist Arianne Phillips; New York Times stylist Elizabeth Stewart and Mad Men costume designer Janie Bryant, among others. While many of the stylists are unknown to the general public, this work turns the spotlight on them, raising questions about who is really in charge of what wear and how we choose to present ourselves. Brooksʼ paintings portray a dynamic exchange between two artists: the painter and the stylists — both of whom use various props, settings, lighting, fashion and accessories to set the canvasʼ stage.

Kimberly Brooksʼ work has been featured in numerous juried exhibitions organized by curators from the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Museum of Modern Art. Her work has been featured in the Los Angeles Times, Art Ltd., The Huffington Post, Vanity Fair, Elle, C Magazine among other publications.

For additional information and images, please contact Heather Taylor at 310-559-9156 or heather@taylordecordoba.com. Taylor De Cordoba is located at 2660 South La Cienega Blvd in Los Angeles, CA. The gallery is open from Tuesday – Saturday, 11AM – 6PM.

Upcoming 2010 Los Angeles Exhibition

A New Series of Oil Portraits by

K I M B E R L Y   B R O O K S
“The Stylist Project”

February 27 – April 3, 2010

TAYLOR DE CORDOBA
2660 S. La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90034  |  tel: 310.559.9156
Artist Reception: Sat, February 27, 6 – 8 pm

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“Elizabeth Stewart”  (Stylist for New York Times Magazine and Harper’s Bazaar) The Stylist Project, Oil on Linen by Kimberly Brooks

About The Stylist Project

The Los Angeles installment of “The Stylist Project” at Taylor De Cordoba, debuts a series of portraits of people with extraordinary style, focusing on major  Los Angeles-based stylists, style-makers and fashion editors, styling themselves.  The New York Exhibition with New York Style-makers will be Spring 2011.

I have often painted women and figures based around a theme. During my 2007 solo exhibition “Mom’s Friends” about my mother and her friends in 1970s Marin County, I embraced the idea of fashion as a language within painting.  For this show, I sought a way to make fashion the subject itself and to bring to life the people, often a mystery to the public, who wield fashion just as I do my paint and brush.   Each portrait is very different.  It is a collaboration between two artists.

In my research I learned that there is a very hierarchical ecosystem of people considered style-makers and that “stylist” is actually a misnomer.  The project encompasses a range of professions including costume designers, magazine creative directors, fashion editors, celebrity stylists, and style icons. For this reason I use the term “stylist” a bit loosely.

Related Writings: Michelle Obama: Master Colorist.

The Women of Women: The Female Form


PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

“Valentino, Cartier and Rachel Zoe” Oil on Linen by Kimberly Brooks

The Women of Women: The Female Form, curated by Yasmine Mohseni January 16, 2010 – February 20, 2010 Opening reception: Saturday January 16, 2010 from 6-8PM

Taylor De Cordoba is pleased to present The Women of Women: The Female Form, a group exhibition curated by Yasmine Mohseni. The multi-media exhibition examines women artists depicting the female form. In the history of art, the male gaze has traditionally determined how the female is portrayed. Male artists have long painted the female form for a male audience, therefore assuming control of how the woman is depicted. Contemporary female artists have broken the passive mold once associated with representations of women by seizing control of the gaze. These emerging artists focus on the portrayal of the female in a multitude of incarnations.

LA-based artist Kimberly Brooks previews a painting from her new portrait series, depicting celebrated fashion stylists in her signature saturated Hockney-inspired style. Susan Anderson spent over two years traveling the country to photograph child beauty pageant contestants in extravagant costumes and poses. The result is the portrayal    of very young girls looking back at the viewer with a bold gaze one would expect to see from a mature woman. Alika Cooper approaches portraits as though they were landscapes. Her quick and instinctive hand is visible in her work, capturing emotion and narrative with just a few sparse lines.

Photographers Danielle Mourning and Roya Falahi turn the gaze onto themselves through self-portraiture. In her new series, Falahi intertwines her Iranian heritage with her love of American punk rock by photographing herself wearing a rousari, a traditional Iranian headscarf, that she has meticulously covered in silver studs. Falahi re-appropriates symbols traditionally associated with imposed submission and rebelliousness, respectively, and imbues them with new meaning, reflecting the artist!s complex and multicultural identity. Meanwhile, Mourning!s reflexive work looks more to poetry than prose. Her ethereal photographs revisit her early childhood in the Northern California, fulfilling her objective to imagine history as it once was and question how it is fixed within the present.

Yasmine Mohseni is a Los Angeles-based arts writer and independent curator. Her articles have been published in Beautiful/Decay, BlackBook, Canvas, ForYourArt.com, Newsweek, and Whitewall. She covers contemporary art and culture for magazines, with an emphasis on contemporary Middle Eastern art. Past curatorial projects include exhibitions at the Tarryn Teresa Gallery and POVevolving in Los Angeles.

Taylor De Cordoba is located at 2660 S La Cienega Blvd in Los Angeles, CA and is open from Tuesday – Saturday, 11am-6pm. For additional press information, contact Heather Taylor at heather@taylordecordoba.com or (310) 559-9156.

Aqua Art Miami – Wynwood 2009

AquaWynwardKimberlyBrooksAQUA ART MIAMI – WYNWOOD 2009

KIMBERLY BROOKS
KYLE FIELD
CHARLENE LIU
CHRIS NATROP
CLAIRE OSWALT
JEANA SOHN
FROHAWK TWO FEATHERS

Taylor De Cordoba – Booth # 29

December 3 – 6, 2009.
42 NE 25th St.
Miami FL 33137 (at N Miami Ave)
Aqua Art Miami

If you are planning to attend the fair, please contact the gallery for a limited supply of complimentary passes.

Taylor De Cordoba
2660 S La Cienega Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90034

Image Details: Kimberly Brooks, “The Stylist Project”, Grace Coddington, Study, 2009, oil on linen, 16″ x 12″ ; Chris Natrop, Gleaming Without Us – Moss, 2008, ultrachrome print and machined cast acrylic, 23”x31”x1 1/8”

KIMBERLY BROOKS Fall Newsletter

Happy Fall, Everyone. Here’s the latest ~

UPCOMING LECTURES, SHOWS & EVENTS

UC IRVINE, CA SEPT 16
INSIDE EDGE LECTURE SERIES
THE CREATIVE PROCESS IN EIGHT STAGES
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NEW YORK, NY OCT 12 – 16
PORTRAIT SUBJECT SITTINGS

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FIRST PERSON ARTIST LUNCH WITH HUFFINGTON POST
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MIAMI, FLA DEC 2-4
ART MIAMI BASEL
NEW PAINTINGS

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UPCOMING INTERVIEWS
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MARILYN MINTER
ROBERTO LUCANDER
JOCK MACDONALD
MELISSA MANFILL
JENNIFER PRESANT
REBECCA CAMPBELL

RECENT ESSAYS & INTERVIEWS

FaceBook and the Death of Mystery

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The Art of the Headshot

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What Climate Change Might Look Like:
Chris Larson’s Deep North

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Dancing with Divorced men:
Allison Kaufman

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Michelle Obama, Master Colorist & Me
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Leonard Shlain 1937 – 2009

My beloved, brilliant, extraordinary father, author and surgeon Leonard shlain, passed away May 11.  I wrote about the vigil my family held for him.  And then I wrote about the memorial.  Painting is the only thing that is keeping me going right now.

Huffington Post -May 10
A Vigil For My Father, Leonard Shlain by Kimberly Brooks
I asked him the other day while I was helping him add quotes to his newest book: “Are you afraid to die?” “No” he said.” I’m not afraid to die. I just want to live.” Read Whole Article >

Huffington Post – June 1
The Man Who Attended His Own Funeral by Kimberly Brooks
…The memorial, a few days later, was particularly spectacular because he showed up. He had the foresight to have my filmmaker sister, Tiffany Shlain, shoot a video of himself several months beforehand.
Read Whole Article >

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“Made in California”

Thursday evening June 25th to celebrate our Golden State with California artists and friends Peter Alexander, Stan Bitters, Kimberly Brooks, Jamie Daughters, Laddie John Dill, Ed Moses, Samuel Moyers and Daniel Wheeler. Special guest Eames Demetrios, pop-up store by our own Trina Turk. A portion of the evening proceeds to PS Arts.

THE GOLDEN STATE proudly features California- based designers including Amahlia Stevens, Ash Francomb, Calleen Cordero, Clare Vivier, Melanie Apple, Michelle Jonas, Rebecca Norman, Staci Woo, Trina Turk and products that reflect our lifestyle and culture. Opens June 2nd.

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Venice Art Walk

The Venice Art Walk (this weekend, May 16 and 17) is the oldest, most adventurous event of its kind on L.A’s cultural calendar. And while it may be the only to charge (starting at $50 – actually a great value) it also offers the best opportunities in town to snap up remarkable works of art at a silent auction that includes more than 400 original works by many of the best artists now working in L.A. And it is for an extremely good cause – the Venice Family Clinic, now pushing 30 and the largest free clinic in the U.S., serving more than 23,000 Angelenos annually.

Exhibition: All Under One Roof: A Selection of LA Artists

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: ELIZABETH WILLIAMS
(213) 627-5100
Exhibition: All Under One Roof: A Selection of LA Artists.
Guest curator: Yasmine Mohseni
Dates: April 10-May 8, 2009
Reception: April 10, 2009, 7-11pm
Location: Tarryn Teresa Gallery, 1820 Industrial St, #230, Los Angeles, CA 90021
Monday-Friday 11:00am-5:00pm, Saturday 11:00am-4:00pm

Tarryn Teresa Gallery is pleased to present a group exhibition by guest curator Yasmine Mohseni. The themed exhibition examines interpretations and representations of homelands. Adopted homes. Native lands. New homes. Temporary homes. The 10 exhibiting artists of varying ages and backgrounds examine this personal theme in different media and aesthetics. Where we are and where we are from are inextricably linked to our identity and the way we see the world. And all these artists live under one roof, the city of LA.

Roya Falahi, an Iranian-American photographer working in downtown LA, draws upon unique facets of identity and culture. In her technically stunning portrait series, Camo Tactics (Smells Like Blood), Roya adopts military tactics of camouflage to create phantasmagorical scenes. The disguised and veiled woman is further obscured by the all-red composition; all vestiges of her individual identity are removed. The viewer is left wondering if this woman is a victim of religious fundamentalism or if she’s toying with the portrayal of Iranian contemporary culture by western news media. In Irving Greines’ Working Girls photos, there is no veiling or obscuring; the mannequins’ faces are wholly visible. Irving has humanized these inanimate objects and pulls the viewer into their sad world. The layers of meaning attached to these 2 photos reflect the dichotomies of the artist’s native LA. At the height of their glory, these women may have graced the windows of high fashion stores on Rodeo Drive. Now they are old and broken with flaking skin. Found in the boutiques of Central LA, these working girls are not your typical mannequins: they raise issues of gentrification and class disparity in this decentralized sprawling city. Evoking differences between rich and poor, youth and aging, they suggest the often overlooked beauty that can be found amidst urban blight and ugliness.

Venice-based painter Kimberly Brooks’s representations of LA focus on the light and color of landscape. In her series Technicolor Summer, she melds compositional and thematic influences from David Hockney’s Los Angeles with the bold and decorative style of French Nabis artists like Pierre Bonnard and Edouard Vuillard. Kimberly paints scenes from a summer experienced in high definition. California becomes a living and breathing entity pulsing with vivid color, where the human figure is secondary to the landscape it inhabits. It is a life lived in technicolor. Multi-media artist Kristin Jai Klosterman captures a different aspect of California landscape. Images of oil jack pumps and windmills underscore a harnessing of Southern California’s natural resources. Kristin’s application of oxidized iron to the canvas heightens her work’s industrial aesthetic. And, while her subject matter deals with heavy industry, she
unearths an unexpected rhythmic grace and beauty from the machinery that dots the Southern California landscape from the coastline to the wind farms of Palm Springs.

A recurrent theme in Culver City-based artist Amir H. Fallah’s work is transient homes. In his series, I Put You on a Pedestal, he draws inspiration from diverse sources such as tree houses, tent cities, Al Qaeda bunkers and refugee camps. In these multi-media works on paper, the child-like innocence of the tree house coexists with ominous Al Qaeda bunkers. Tent cities and refugee camps address a nomadic existence, for both the willing and the unwilling participant. His theme is inclusive in that transience is a reality for a large part of the world’s population. Yet, his compositions seem to focus on the individual within the greater collective. In all 3 works, a single structure climbs vertically up the paper as though to reflect an individual’s solitary trajectory. Conceptual artist Gabriela Anastasio broaches a similar topic in a very different way. With her two monumental installations Cubiculum and Archetype, Gabriela considers the concepts of the individual and the collective. In her flagship piece, Cubiculum, the New York transplant handcrafted 402 individual wood cubes which she stacks and balances differently each time, depending on the space it inhabits. A process she documents in short tightly edited videos that demonstrate the delicate process of balancing and stacking each cube. Cubiculum bring to mind dichotomies of the individual and its place within a greater collectivity. Furthermore, the uniformity of the cubes emphasizes the notion of one among many. Her second installation, the monumental Archetype, explores the individual. This delicate skeletal armature is reinforced by bands of knotted cloth, the structure’s skin. Through its inanimate forms, the restrained elegance of Archetype emanates visual cues of human individuality. Archetype is an exploration of the individual within the greater context of Cubiculum’s collectivity.

About the Guest Curator

Yasmine Mohseni is a Los Angeles-based arts writer and independent curator. Her articles have beenpublished in magazines such as BlackBook, Discover, Newsweek, and Whitewall. She is the U.S.correspondant for the Dubai-based arts magazine Canvas and is a contributing writer at Artworks andForYourArt.com. Yasmine has an M.A. in Art and Design History from the Bard Graduate Center in NewYork City, a B.A. in Art History from Occidental College in Los Angeles, and a diploma from Christie’sEducation in Paris. She has worked at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Christie’s NewYork, and the Musée d’Orsay in Paris.

About Tarryn Teresa Gallery

Tarryn Teresa Gallery is a contemporary gallery dedicated to exhibiting conceptual art in all media. Thegallery seeks to recognize artists whose statement reflects a refined and perfected process in the service oflarger conceptual framework. Tarryn Teresa Gallery is committed to pursuing public art projects and installations.

Michelle Obama’s White House Portrait

The White House revealed the new official White House Portrait of Michelle Obama today. I’m working on a series of portraits right now and am obsessed with the subject. Even though I love her signature bare arms, I found the blue curtain exploding directly above the center of her head a curious choice of composition, as well as the white rose blocking her hand.Michelle Obama Portrait

It reminded of John Baldessari’s “Wrong”, a photograph he made in response to a photography book telling would be artists that strong vertical design elements sprouting from people’s heads in a photograph or painting is wrong.

John Baldessari, “Wrong”

While he was surely mocking the idea of there being a “right” when you make art, I think this White House photographer needs a spanking.

Michelle Obama, Master Colorist and Me

There is a riot of color issuing forth from the First Lady’s closet and I cannot wait to see what she wears next. Say what you will about whether or not it was “appropriate” to wear a cardigan to meet the Queen or whether that balloon skirt was flattering, Michelle Obama is a Master Colorist — and I as well as my artist friends could not be more ecstatic.2009-04-05-obamacollage.jpg
A Collage of Michelle Recent Outfits

A woman’s journey through fashion is a life cycle in and of itself. As I look at the bold strokes of Michelle’s color sense today I reflect upon Michelle’s journey in fashion and color as one that might parallel my own and other women like her.

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Behold Matisse

As a young girl, I thought of fashion and color as a means to make myself more attractive to the opposite sex. My grandmother once told me, “Red and yellow, catch a fellow; pink and blue, keep him true.” My entire sense of fashion was about sexualization and objectification. I essentially wanted to make myself look pretty for the boys I had crushes on. At camp I would look at Seventeen, Vogue, Cosmo and Bazaar. But when I went to college, I got serious about my studies and great literature and momentarily shunned fashion or looked down upon caring too much about it. This was not just because I didn’t have any money to pay for it. It was also due to the culture inside the Ivory Tower — and I believe many other Ivy League-type schools — which mostly eschews fashion in exchange for the idea that the main purpose of our bodies is to provide a container for our brains. So while I may have I swooned over the finery described in words during a Proustian night at the Opera, fashion stayed in my head whereas Levi’s, a comfortable Gap t-shirt and a cool leather jacket was my uniform.

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Obama, Matisse and J. Crew

It is often after women leave the university and enter the workforce that a different sense of fashion emerges and we pick up the magazines again, first for ideas and then reading them with new eyes. I started to become more cognizant of fashion as a language. Navigating the workforce was confining for me at first and my leftover sexy sense of fashion led to unwanted passes. Even though my first job was in the design industry, it was a very macho, male-dominated environment, not unlike Mad Men. There was a need to balance looking creative, smart and tough if you were to be taken seriously. I opted for a reinvention/upgrade of my student self and learned that black boots or heels and a crisp white shirt is better for negotiating a room full of men. I lived in San Francisco. It was often grey and cloudy. And with the exception of an occasional red sweater, most of my wardrobe was black. It was very easy to go shopping. While I only touched color with cool scarves, I had unwittingly become a student of the silhouette. Languages, after all, must be learned one word and one phrase at a time.

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Obama, Cezanne, Narcisso Rodriguez

And this is where a lot of us working girls sleep walk well into our late twenties. We’re finally earning money and can afford a fabulous shoe. For me, I had moved to Los Angeles and the working girl uniform from San Francisco was no longer cutting it. (The different fashion styles of San Francisco and Los Angeles is a subject in and of itself.) I suddenly no longer saw fashion as a weapon of either sexuality or power in the work place, but rather as a universe of fabric, texture, color just as vibrant as the ones on my palette in the studio. I often dived into one color at a time, learning what works, what makes sense together and what looks best on me. After gaining a certain confidence, women learn to really celebrate themselves and life itself through what they choose to wear. That is what Michelle Obama is doing with color and so much more.

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Obama, Matisse

In reality, a woman’s journey in color and fashion is a sign of a healthy society. All the most oppressive regimes towards women cover them in black. I don’t care what the faux religious excuses of Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Afghanistan are. The silence of color in an entire culture is emblematic of the suppression of women’s spirit and influence on it’s culture. Michelle Obama’s use of color and fashion is empowering and enlightening to the women in this country. It is the fashion equivalent of Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass” and awakens in all of us the beauty of life and every day. As an artist, I am doubly appreciative of splashes of chartreuse and yellow, purple and green as fly across my television and computer screen. As an American Woman, I am filled with pride and hope it spreads like a California Wildfire.

Facebook and The Death of Mystery

I received an email recently notifying me that I was “tagged” in a facebook entry called “25 Things You Don’t Know About Me” from an old friend. We actually went on a few dates many many years ago and I haven’t seen him in about three years, but we’ve remained friends. Curious, I clicked on the link and learned twenty five things about him I never knew, like the rest of his four hundred friends. He’s a very witty guy, so it wasn’t quite like “I like piña coladas and getting caught in the rain,” but in another way, it was oddly close. By tagging me he was requesting, or essentially daring me, along with the other nine friends he had tagged, to do the same thing. I impulsively started to do it and then never posted anything.

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My Facebook life started off about a year and a half ago with friends and people I know closely, then my family started dribbling in, and the next thing I knew my friends included that person from a job I had ten years ago, students I’ve taught at art school, that really weird guy from high school, and an old roommate in college… and on and on it continued. That was the first sign of “friend leakage”, where I had expanded beyond the scope of intimate friends and was venturing into people outside of my circle, but usually by only a few degrees — at least I knew them.

Then things started getting out of hand. It started with a friend who is a supreme animal rights crusader with a very sexy, come-hither thumbnail picture. I haven’t seen her in years but she wrote a book and is semi-famous for the cause, so because of her, I have about one hundred extra friends. I know this because when someone requests that they be my friend in Facebook, I can see all the friends we have in common. I kept seeing this one friend, and then I realized I had become a part of the save the animals movement because our mutual friends kept including the friends I had met through her. Honestly, I started to get a little loose about whom I would “friend”– that’s right, Facebook made me feel promiscuous– I would wait then say, “Oh what the hell, after all, we have mutual friends.” It was then when I truly appreciated the fractal component of the friending process.

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“The Facebook Friending Process” (Illustration courtesy of Mandelbrot)

When I joined initially, I saw in Facebook something that resembled the early days of AOL when people were giddy about first sending emails and buddy lists and instant messaging were all the rage. Unlike many other people, who put videos of their kid’s first step, pictures from their recent barbecue and the details of their love life (options are “single”, “in a relationship”, “married” and “it’s complicated”), I try not to reveal too much — at least I don’t think I do — but even that’s getting blurry. At some point I must have made the decision that because I am an artist, my work is something I want and need to share, and I think of Facebook as one of many tools to do that. I’ve also come to consider one’s digital footprint to be, in a sense, another form of existence outside of the physical body. And it’s scope and appearance needs to be tended to so that it compositionally represents the portrait you want to present to the outside world.

But what struck me as so odd about the request for 25 secret things about me was I instantly envisioned that I could be creating a white paper on my entire spiritual, intellectual and life DNA. Imagine getting friended by someone who you’ve been set up with on a date, and he goes on your site to read what would ordinarily be doled out like pearls rolling down a pillow after an intimate evening over months or years of getting to know each other. If you fully fill out the profile questionnaire, you could let someone know every movie or favorite song you like, your favorite hobby and, along with your photos, video and baby pictures, it would read like a map of your very essence.

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Kimberly Brooks. Detail from “Delivery” Oil on Panel. 2004

Ten years ago, I wouldn’t have believed that Amazon would close Cody’s Books on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley, along with countless other independent bookstores; that I’d see a “going out of business” sign at the Tower Records down the hill; that bloggers and aggregators would somehow supplant (usurp?) journalists for news sources and that the New York Times (The New York Times!) would mortgage it’s building to stay alive.

I cannot help but to cast my mind forward. My ten year old son started a blog while we were at a dinner party. Now he wants to spend hours gathering cool content for it to show his friends. When he’s not begging me for a phone, it’s for me to blog about his blog so he can get a bigger audience. I wonder what they will call the generation who grows up with all this. I believe Time Magazine called mine “X” because it was right after the baby boomers and we hadn’t defined ourselves yet (well, we showed them). Then came “Generation Y” because it was after us. I would rename this one Generation “E” for “Exhibitionist”, (we can throw in “Exposure” and “Electronic” while we’re at it.) These social networking applications are grafted onto their gray matter and perhaps they might never know what mystery is. They’ll google or “friend” every classmate, teacher, co-worker, boss and know everything there is to know about that person. There will be no more boundary between “personal” and “professional”. Everyone will engage in wanton fractal friending and be connected with each other and Kevin Bacon. Maybe, if everybody becomes friends, this is how we will achieve Peace on Earth!

My husband is not on Facebook. I’m kind of jealous. He talks to a small group of people one-on-one via email. Because at the end of the day, and I mean that quite literally, Facebook has become another inbox for me to check. Maybe it’s because I always want to be mysterious or that as an artist, like Greta Garbo, “I just vant to be alone.”

(Published on The Huffington Post)

artHAUS 2009

Group exhibition on Main Street in Venice for artHAUS. The exhibition features twenty five artists from Berlin and Los Angeles. The curator, Thomas Shirmboeck, flew in Wednesday from Germany to hang the show. Here are the details:The Opening Reception is Saturday Jan 24th at 5 PMAddress is 700 Main Street in Venice (Valet avail)It’s open during this weekend from 12-4 Saturday and Sunday, then by apt only. Www.arthaus.usartHAUS Banner

PRESS RELEASE

artHAUS 2009

los angeles | berlin

www.arthaus.us

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Exhibition: artHAUS 2009 Los Angeles – Berlin25 Artists 9 LoftsJan 24- Feb 24Reception: Sat June 24, 2009 5:00 pmOpening Weekend Sat/Sun 12:00-4:00Location: Dogtown Station700 Main StreetVenice, CAVenice, CA–artHAUS is a group show featuring twenty five artists from Los Angeles to Berlin curated by Thomas Schirmböck of Zephyr Gallery and the Reiss-Engelhorn-Museen in Mannheim, Germany. The works consist of photography, painting, sculpture and video and are spread throughout nine Manhattan-style lofts at Dogtown Station 700 Main Street in Venice, California. There will be a reception for the artists Saturday January 24, at 5:00 pm.

The theme of the show, Confrontation:Collaboration, portrays “…how two related but often enough misunderstood parts of the world meet in a fest for art” says Thomas Schirmboeck, Curator. “Abstract painting is confronted with self reflecting photography, sculptures which give us the idea to understand the world of creatures meet aerial photography; falling artists meet in video art the false beauty of the Oktoberfest. Art is always about the world and how to see her, transform her. This show brings splinters from different kinds of art together and lays them out like a mosaic in which colors, techniques and materials stand together.”

About artHAUS

ArtHAUS is a roaming international exhibition that integrates contemporary art and architecture by engaging world class curators to showcase cutting edge artwork– photography, video, sculpture and painting– in newly renovated, unfurnished residences that celebrate the newest local architecture of the host city.The ArtistsFeatured artists include painters Charles Arnoldi, Edith Baumann, Kimberly Brooks, Craig Butler and Myriam Holme; photographers, Douglas Busch, Ford Gilbreath, Werner Huthmacher, Ruth Hutter, E.F. Kitchen, Jenny Tall Kroftova, Robert Mack, Jurgen Nogai, Marc Raeder, Florian Reischauer, Stefanie Schneider, Bill Sosin, Joachim Seinfeld, Marvin Wax, Al Weber and Sascha Weidner; and sculptors Tom Chapin, Gwynn Murrill. Roughly half of the artists are based in Southern California and the other half from Germany.

About Thomas Schirmböck, artHAUS 2009

CuratorThomas Schirmboeck is the director of the Zephyr Gallery and curater for the contemporary photography for the Reiss-Engelhorn-Museen in Mannheim, Germany. Mr. Schirmboeck has produced eighty four shows internationally ranging from photography, painting and installation. From 1996 – 2004 he was founding manager of “Fotogalerie Alte Feuerwache”, a public space for photography and related media as one of the leading art spaces for contemporary media in Southern Germany. Before this he lectured in art history at the Manheim University. He is and was a member of several public commissions including Germaine-Krull-Foundation, Wetzlar, Germany, Welde-KunstPreis, Schwetzingen, and senior member of the board City Gallery of Mannheim. He studied art history, archaeology and political sciences at Heidelberg University. As an editor he has published numerous catalogues and written essays for book publishers.For more information about the event go to www.arthaus.usPress Inquiries contact Deborah Campbell using our contact form or call 310.457.5477###

Miami Basel Reflections

I just returned from attending Miami Basel for the first time and a week later all I can still say is WOW.

In seven short years Miami Basel has become one of America’s most important art fairs with an international audience and it turns out that the art is not the only worth staring at— the people watching, the parties, Miami itself– it all combines into an intoxicating brew that will surely take me a year to recover.

I would comment on the art which would require one hundred thousand blogs, so I’ve taken a sampling of photos to share with you below. I was struck most of all by the painting, especially the Germans in the satellite fairs (more on those fairs later.) I initially attempted to record every artist and gallery’s name that I captured along with the image, but that turned out to be too massive an undertaking, so I decided instead to recreate the art blizzard that one experiences– something I could never get away with it in the print world.

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Unlike other types of conventions where people are noisily talking and pitching and selling and meeting, wandering through an art fair, even one as massive as this one filling the entire Miami convention center, is very Zen. People quietly walk from booth to booth, as though visiting a different temples, trying to decide whether to join its religion or not. It fittingly occurs the same week as the Hajj, a pilgrimage Muslims are duty-bound to make once in a life-time. Miami Basel is also something every artist should experience at least once in a life-time, hopefully many times.

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For most artists, the fair hovers around our consciousness like a distant moon or planet that we know is there but that we don’t actually visit. My paintings have attended for a few years with my gallery, but I myself had never gone in person. That said, I hear more and more galleries suffering from fair fatigue and given the economy, I fear the degree to which these fairs will carry on with the gusto they have in the past will diminish. In fact, I met many people who said, “you shoulda seen it last year — there were twice as many Basquiat’s and Warhols…. Clearly the dealers were holding back their best stuff”. That may have been true, but it was still spectacular.

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The trip was especially fascinating since I recently finished the vocational thriller “7 Days in the Art World” by Sarah Thorton about how things really work. She, or perhaps it was John Baldessari, likened an artist going to a fair to catching one’s parents having sex. Artists don’t like to think of their work as merchandize, let alone see their dealers in the “act” of treating it that way. It didn’t bother me one bit.

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The anatomy of the fair goes something like this: there is the main fair, Miami Basel, where you see really big artists, many dead ones (I saw some Magrittes, Duffy, Bacons and Warhols that made my heart stop). The big fair is also in South Beach, near all the swanky hotels and where most of the parties flourish at night. The satellite fairs are clustered about thirty minutes away in what is normally a rough neighborhood. These smaller fairs have cool names like “Aqua, Pulse, Scope, Nada” in general feature younger more emerging artists, such as myself. My work was exhibiting at Aqua Wynwood which was my favorite of the Satellite fairs and not just because I was in it. In these fairs more than the main one, Obama was clearly the star fo the show. And thank you, Florida, for that. As we were shuttled through the neighborhoods of the satellite fairs you could see posters sprinkled along the side walk that said “Mission Accomplished” with Obama dressed as Superman.

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The people might not eclipse the art entirely but they sure come close. The opening night at the main fair is called “The Vernissage” which technically means “varnishing” in French but in this case means private preview. Living in Los Angeles, I can tell you that I have attended my share of sexy A-List parties, but nothing can compare to the chic and sex appeal of an international crowd speaking many languages at this event. Where women in America often dress like grown up version of their teen-age daughers, the European women, escorted by their handsome men in tailored shirts and a scarf casually draped around their neck, slink in the lanes like Catherine Deneuve of every age was put through a cloning machine. It’s fashion/people watching heaven.

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The Miami nightlife or “scene” is certainly dramatically enhanced during the fair, with dinners and parties all over town, especially in South Beach. Often, I thought to myself, “Gee, either there are more people in Miami, or just more people out having a good time.” Every place seems to be teaming with slick looking people, the city has a vibe more like Chicago with better weather and better looking people (sorry Chicago.) It was definitely not a West Coast vibe where most people like to be in bed by 11:00.

What a far cry from the solitary act of painting in my studio in Venice. Miami left me totally inspired. I can’t wait to go back next year.

Kimberly Brooks Aqua Winward Booth #5

Finally– the election loosened its grip of my mind and the paint, which had been reduced to a trickle, is now flowing in rivers for my next show, a special series of portraits. I’ll be debuting the new work at Aqua Wynward Miami during the Miami Basel Fair where I’ll be from Dec 2-6. The opening night preview is Dec 2nd, the fair runs Dec 3-7 and it’s at my gallery Taylor De Cordoba’s Booth #5. rose

I hope to see you in there ~

The Election and Art Swimming in My Head

If every cell in my body had a face, it would resemble that of Edvard Munch’s “The Scream”, with each of the mouths getting wider and wider until November 4th is over with.

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As an artist, I have, like the rest of my species, huge antennas and right now I find it simply impossible to make or write or think about art and not think about the election.

Watching history being made in every regard is to see reality afresh; when a few elements are tweaked, whether the first African American or the first woman vice president. Although let’s be real about the latter–McCain’s injection of Sarah Palin into his campaign was less history and more like an over-dosing Uma Thurman getting a shot directly in the heart a la “Pulp Fiction”. I attribute the genuine history making moments to Obama and Clinton. And thanks to them I do not think as a country that we will ever see four white guys lined up on those debate stages again.

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I notice, throughout the elections, and especially when candidates are being interviewed, they interrupt or defend their positions by saying “the fact of the matter is” as if everything said before that moment was sort of mushy and not “fact based”. That said, the fact of the matter is that things are being shaken up and it is fantastic.

This is not to say that we’ve reached the very end of white-male dominated patriarchy and that we can now all hold hands in a circle under the moonlight and embrace our inner pagan witch/goddesses just yet. But it does signify an historic reality tweak, and hopefully, one that will lead us to some new post gender, post racial, post carbon age that transcends anything we’ve known before.

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Leonard Shlain Update

Friends,

Two weeks ago, I was just about to send a fall newsletter and hop on a plane to NY when I received a call from my brother that my father, Leonard Shlain, was going in for emergency brain surgery. He made it through, but the tumor was determined to be malignant. He is a very beloved man and many of you are probably familiar with his books (“Art & Physics”, “The Alphabet vs The Goddess” and “Sex, Time & Power”.) Ironically he was in the process of completing his latest book “Leonardo’s Brain” about Leonardo Da Vinci. I made a get well site for him at www.leonardshlain.com and if you would like to leave a comment I’m sure he would love to read them.

Best,

Kimberly

Artist Porn: 10 Things that Turn Me On

Writing a weekly column about artists that turn me on omits a gigantic portion of what turns me on as an artist. The truth is that more artists don’t turn me on than do– there are a hundred for every one I feature. But there are certain things, not by fine artists, per se, that really turn me on and I affectionately refer to them as “Artist Porn”.

Note, the dictionary definition of porn is: “obscene writings, drawings, photographs, or the like, esp. those having little or no artistic merit.” I certainly don’t use the word by this definition. One of my friends insisted that I was describing a “guilty pleasure.” But, no, that is just not the case. Dark chocolate is a guilty pleasure. Making love before breakfast is a guilty pleasure. Doing it during a conference call, well that’s just plain kinky, but I digress. No, this is clearly “artist porn.” These are things that light up my brain like a hormone-addled teenager gazing upon some moaning glistening assemblage of limbs. Behold this partial list that I encounter in daily life that visually rock my world:

TV Commercial Porn: Ads by Target
These consistently overshadow every program they appear next to. Eyes turn into roses turn into vacuums turn into ballerina dancers. I never know what’s going to happen next and I never tire of watching them.

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Couture Porn: “The Tudors”
The first time I laid my eyes on this Showtime series, I was just undone by the beauty on all levels that just spilled out of my monitor onto the reflection of my living room floor. The costumes are insane. The sets–every scene is worthy of a painting– and did I mention the costumes? The most beautifully embroidered and bejeweled I have ever seen. That the ungodly gorgeousness of the cast (Jonathon Rhys Myers as King Henry VIII, Natalie Dormer as Anne Boleyn, Peter O’Toole in red velvet as the Pope) holds a candle to it as well is just too much. I almost licked the monitor it was so hot. Natalie Dormer, who I had never seen before, has the most incredible face. Natalie, if you ever Google yourself and read this, please let me paint you, I beseech you.

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Architecture Porn: 15 Central Park West
I read the Sunday New York Times religiously and often find myself dawdling endlessly on the blueprints of a $Bazillion (and up!) apartments splayed as advertisements in the magazine section. In my minds eye, I walk through every room, the galleries and gaze upon the views of Central Park. This is how I discovered and fell in love with the building and website of 15 Central Park West. This paean to prewar New York architecture includes jaw-dropping views of Central Park, interviews with the cuddly architects and developers who belabored every detail of resuscitating the eminence of the era though a building. In fact, I think I’ve developed a small crush on architect Robert A.M. Stern. Hint: go to the “Film.” One day I plan on posing as a house attendant or valet to get a glimpse in real life. Check out the website and blueprints here: www.15cpw.com

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Set Design/Opening Credits Porn: “Mad Men”
What a spectacular show. It is not only fantastically written , but the sets and the details of capturing the Madison Avenue in New York in the 60s are riveting. Nailing England hundreds of years ago, as in the Tudors, seems like a cake walk compared to what they accomplished here. All you’d need is some horses, castles and killer threads. But this is absolutely a not to be missed show for the visuals alone. The opening credits ranks up there with the credits of Six Feet Under, which is sadly off the air. And all on AMC, who knew?

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The Painting Whisperer vs. The Anxiety of Abstraction

Take for a moment the spectrum of Realism and the raucous jazz of Abstraction in painting and slide somewhere in the middle. Over to the left is realism flexing its technical prowess, and it is impressive– posing in the sun like a young Arnold Schwarzennegger. But once the painter leaves it, when reality is tweaked or cracked open and abstraction seeps in, the mind wanders inside the crevasses and when done right, it sets the viewer free, free to interpret or imagine something greater than even what the painter had in store. The longer I paint, the more I leave realism and revere painters who ride that certain edge in between. Arnold looks so silly in that bathing suit anyway.

I have long cultivated the thought of artist as Painting Whisperer; that the better artist possesses some secret frequency to channel the right moves. When one can tune in better, the paintings will just fly out like songs or messages from a distant galaxy. Or like a novelist whose characters develop minds of their owns and “write the rest of the story” themselves. This is also a common fantasy among the critics and viewers not in the trenches. Perhaps Irving Stone helped start it in The Agony and the Ecstasy when he depicted the young Michelangelo coaxing the figures out of the marble slabs, setting them free. But it’s not so simple. How many film students studying Godard revel in some bizarre effect, only to find later that something spilled on the camera lens? It was an accident, dammit! But a great one, like discovering penicillin from the mold on cheese.

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Annie Lapin, “Cast Halving”, 2008, Oil on panel, 96 x 69 inches, Courtsey of Angles Gallery.

Annie Lapin is one such artist whose work lies somewhere in that amazing middle. Her recent paintings deftly disorient and bend the pitch of reality just enough to make you fall inside them. When I look at Annie’s work, I had projected that she must talk to her canvas, how else must these scenes come into being? I’m fascinated by what gets planned and tossed and when. But in talking with her, I learn, she is no painting whisperer– she is not the passive recipient of some canvas telling her what to do. No! She is Charlie Sheen starring in her own version of The Apocalypse, where every possibility is fraught with consequences, and each stroke, like Chaos’ butterfly wing, causes rainstorms elsewhere on the canvas. So the real conversation, then– the whispering– occurs less between artist and canvas and more between the viewer and the final work, which is exactly what great art should do. Her show, “Gruppology” opens tonight at the Angles Gallery in Santa Monica, CA.

KB: How do you start a painting, Annie? I see remnants of photographic imagery and reality but am not convinced that you’re looking at anything when you make it.

AL: On all of my larger works, I work from my head. It is a process of reacting to the image… layering, and allowing it to develop is if it were a photo in emulsion. I also do a lot of watercolor exercises, which tend to be diptychs on little pieces of paper. For these I often paint from photos of current events or other things that seem prevalent in the media. By doing this I get to recharge both my mind and my hand with the tropes of realism, quotations of photographic lighting and reformulations of the images that we all think we know so well. Then those things come out naturally when I compose my larger works on canvas, and I am more able to subvert them because I am not looking directly at a photograph.

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Annie Lapin, “Couple of Narcissists”, 2008, Oil on synthetic canvas, 51 x 30 inches, Courtesy of Angles Gallery.

When you’re working on the bigger canvases, do ever get the feeling that the paintings talk to you while you’re making them and tell you want they want done to them? Like a novelists who invents characters that start having minds of their own? When does that happen? All during or never?

AL: I wish my paintings would talk to me, but sadly, radio silence. It’s a process of trial and error as I search for that unique solution which will allow it to resonate in the way I am after.

KB: No kidding. I have full-blown arguments, wrestling matches and make-out sessions. I’ve been aspiring to be a “Painting Whisperer” trying to listen to the next move as much as I want my mind to control it.

AL: I wish it were that way, but it is definitely not a “painting whisperer” process. I have way way way too much anxiety to be a “painting whisperer.” I always feel the painting could go a million ways, I choose one, and typically, after the initial high, I feel miserable about it. And even after it’s “done” I could see a million ways to destroy it or subvert it, which I often feel compelled to do if the image is too resolved. Once the painting is “done” I am always sure there was another way I could have taken a painting… but I comfort myself by looking at it and just superimposing those ways on the canvas in my mind.

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Technicolor Summer Exhibition Tonite

Hi Everyone~

My Solo Exhibition “Technicolor Summer” opens tonite in Los Angeles May 10th 6 – 9 PM in Culver City– press release below. The show is based on a personal experience that I had last summer.  Also, here’s the press release.  Hope to see you there!  In Art, Kimberly

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Kimberly Brooks: TECHNICOLOR SUMMER
May 10th – June 14th, 2008
Opening Reception: Saturday May 10th, 2008, 6-9pm

Taylor De Cordoba is pleased to present Technicolor Summer, a solo exhibition by Los Angeles-based artist Kimberly Brooks. The exhibition will run from May 10 – June 14. The gallery will host an opening reception for the artist on Saturday May 10th from 6pm-9pm. This is the artist’s second solo show with the gallery.

In her new series of oil paintings, Brooks explores the relationship between human and nature. Using the sweeping California landscape as a backdrop, from the forests of Yosemite to the bewildering expanse of the Pacific Ocean, she introduces characters that are unified by the mutual awe for their surroundings. Based on her personal experience, Brooks focuses on a family grappling with illness, where the prospect of death renders every moment vivid, and each meal and sunset matters. The scenes are from a summer experienced in high definition; where every leaf on a tree becomes visible simultaneously, and life is lived in Technicolor.

Kimberly Brooks work has been featured in numerous juried exhibitions including curators from Whitney Museum of American Art, MOMA, California Institute of the Arts. Brooks maintains her studio in Venice, CA.

Taylor De Cordoba is located at 2660 S La Cienega Blvd in Los Angeles, CA and is open Tuesday thru Saturday, 11am-5:30pm. For additional information, contact Heather Taylor at heather@taylordecordoba.com or (310) 559-9156.

The Creative Process in Eight Stages

 

I made a great big canvas. For three weeks it sat in the center of the studio like Jack’s massive desk in The Shining. No matter how many “painting miles” I’ve earned, there’s really nothing more terrifying. Of course, I have some ideas, a subject, a palette in my mind. Several in fact. But I’ve encircled it, ignored it, worked on smaller paintings instead. Finally, today, I took six different shades of pink. Some cadmium red light, rose and violet, and I just attacked it. It’s okay, I wasn’t totally committed because I knew it was just the ground of probably ten layers that will live above it. But it was a start.

 

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Like Kubler-Ross’ five stages of death–Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance–I divide the creative process into eight stages. The first two are (1) Vision and (2) Hope. I don’t care who you are or what the medium, whether writer, filmmaker, musician, or lithographer or lawyer, or postman, every person goes through these two phases when they get struck by an idea. Vision tends to come in a flash. Then Hope makes the heart swoon and the mind swell around it. Being a great daydreamer helps. Everyone is an artist.

But the difference between artists who create and artists who walk around pregnant with ideas is the third stage which I call (3) Diving In. That’s the scary one. That’s the one I had to deal with in the studio with the pink paint. My father is a surgeon and I used to watch him operate a lot when I was a kid. I’ll never forget that singular moment, in the theatre of the operating room, when he had to press the scalpel into the flesh and make the cut. That’s a surgeon’s “Diving In”. Mine just had less blood.

The next four stages are (4) Excitement (5) Suspicion (6) Clarity and (7) Obsession. Often I bounce between Excitement and Suspicion–suspicion that perhaps my instincts are wrong; that I’m heading in the wrong direction — (Anxiety! Despair!) Finally I move on to Clarity. Clarity, like Vision, often happens in a moment– when the sky opens and I can hear the angels sing. Then my favorite part is the tireless consuming fever of Obsession, the life force of every artist.

The entire sequence can tend to form an infinite loop. Some artists just barely or never get out of this mobius strip, like the San Francisco Female Painter (whose name I can’t remember) who added paint to the same canvas her entire career with a nervous pack of cigarettes until she died. Although Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony was supposedly actually finished, James Joyce apparently couldn’t help but to add pages every time he edited Ulysess and it almost never made it to the publisher. Then there’s the perhaps sixty percent of you, dear readers, who have an unfinished draft of the next Great American Novel rotting in your desk drawer or hard drive.

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Jerry Belson
Photo credit: Los Angeles Times, Associated Press

A year ago, I attended the funeral of the well-known and beloved TV Writer Jerry Belson (“The Dick Van Dyke Show,” “The Odd Couple”, etc.) whose wife Jo Ann is also an artist. During the eulogy by one of his writer friends, he said that whenever he had massive writer’s block he would call Jerry, exasperated. Jerry would say, “Just lay down shit, babe. Just lay down shit.” What a liberating mantra! Don’t worry if it sucks. Don’t worry about ruining it. Just lay it down and get on with it. Making art is risky. Making art takes work. The mortar of all these stages is Discipline and Faith. Then listen, feel and see what’s going on. All art works, are living organisms — if you get out of the way they’ll tell you the next move.

The last stage is (8) Resolution. Very elusive. The composer Aaron Copland said he didn’t finish compositions so much as abandon them. When it’s finally over, it feels like a whole relationship has ended. And then the anticipated rush of doing it all over begins again.

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Art, Technology and the Long Tail

I was walking down Rose Avenue in Venice the other day and the sky sparkled a fantastic shade of blue above a row of rumpled clouds and faded buildings. I rushed to get my camera to take a picture of the way it was playing out. But you just can’t capture that sort of thing on film. As a painter, light and instinct are the currency of my work. I work on many paintings at once and face the ones that are drying against the wall. When I turn them around I look at them afresh and try and let my gut guide the next move.

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I have two children and I think a lot about what it means to be a mother. It made me think of my mother and how I used to see her as a child. She was so glamorous, hanging out with her girlfriends back in the 1970s. That was the subject of my recent show.
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“The Sophia Loren of Mill Valley” Oil on Wood. Kimberly Brooks.

Even though I’ve always been a visual artist, it took me a few years to show my work and have the courage to pursue it full-time. For many years, I earned a living as a writer or designer and kept my artwork to myself and a few close friends. When I was doing this, I felt as though I was walking around with my hand covering one eye, seeing in two dimensions and half-blind.
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I am so lucky to be alive at a moment in time when technology coalesced to give me the means to express my thoughts in a new way–with images, sound, and video, too. It’s an incredible time to be an artist. But it’s one thing to find your voice, and another to have something to say. When it finally hit me, while horseback-riding under a full moon, a light turned on inside me with the sudden thump and wattage of a klieg light: time to share my work.I used to view individual creativity like a milkshake and that it just depended upon which straw you stuck in there to suck it out. So, whether you wrote, painted, or played the saxophone, it would all come out expressing “you.” But it’s not that simple. Everyone possesses the artistic instinct and lives on a spectrum in his ability to express it.
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“Self Portrait” detail. Oil on Linen. Image Courtesy Taylor De Cordoba.

No matter how beautiful, clever, or cynical the message, the driving force of all artists, be they painters, musicians, writers, actors, is to share, to evoke, to move something significant within the viewer or audience. Until recently, most artists were often confined to a relatively monastic existence where all but a lucky few reached a large segment of the population far and beyond their studios and geographic location. Thank GOD for the Internet and it’s “Long Tail”.This column, “First Person Artist,” will feature myself and other contemporary artists who will share their innermost thoughts on the creative process that culminated in a work of art or body of work. By sharing the ruminations and inspirations behind the works of artists in the first person, I hope to ignite like sparks in readers and then to hopefully set the place on fire.

The Challenge of Depiction

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I’ve often sought a literalness when depicting the color of flesh. Overtime and many techniques, I eventually landed on a restricted palette which uses burnt sienna as a base along with french ult. blue, cadmium orange, sap green and crimson.

In “The Sophia Loren of Mill Valley”, however, I used only indigo blue and golden green with white over a cool rose background. It struck me how much “cool” color could be used to depict heat.
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While I work on my next series of paintings, I’m further struck by how much more emotion can be conveyed when I stray from burnt sienna. In fact, no matter how far out or psychadellic my pallete becomes (gold green for warm tones, orange for cool tones, etc.) the viewer will still read it as a flesh and color, along with gesture, becomes yet another layer of articulation.

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I remember watching the Academy Awards a few years ago and Selma Hayek and Penelope Cruz were on the podium to announce the next winner. Here were two of the most beautiful Latina actresses working in Hollywood standing side by side. But instead of having their beauty compounded by seeing them together, I started to focus on their differences– Selma’s arms seemed oddly short in comparison; the top of Penelope’s lip to the bottom of her nose is too small, etc.

I wonder if attempting to emulate the colors of flesh tone too close forces a subconscious comparison; whether or not deviating dramatically sets the viewer free. Surely Van Gough and Gaugin discovered this long before me, but it is one thing to know it intellectually and then another to do it and feel it come alive.

Lisa Yuskavage and her Nice Round Eggs

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I heard a rumor that the painter Lisa Yuskavage spent her entire first year of Yale painting eggs. This is equivalent to a pianist practicing nothing but Czerny every day until her technique becomes flawless. Her subjects are so kinky and luscious — I now understand why she makes figurine models to paint from.
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She also has a wicked sense of color.

I remember the moment I really understood reflected light. Like certain things in painting, it’s slightly counter-intuitive: you’d think that the when looking at a round object, the further the form recedes is where the shadow is darkest. Yet if you don’t light the edge and spill the surrounding color onto the form, it looks flat, like a sphere cut in half. Light from the other side of a shape actually leaks on to the surface. It’s when you don’t let your brain overrule your eyes, that’s when you can really see.

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“Hot Faucet” by Kimberly Brooks

LA Times, by Valli Herman March 15

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Artists throughout the ages have faithfully preserved and even improved upon the fashions of each era, and today is no different. This month and next, three artists – two photographers and a painter – are staging showings of works that capture unique moments in the evolution of fashion.

In “Mom’s Friends,” Venice-based painter and new media artist Kimberly Brooks explores issues of feminine identity, nostalgia and womanhood in a series of oil and gouache portraits based on photos of her mohter and her fashionable 1970s friends from Brooks’ Mill Valley, Calif., childhood. Brooks captures the era’s sense of freedom and fresh power in compositions that feature bold ‘70s style. The exhibit, her second solo show, continues through April 7 at the Taylor de Cordoba gallery, 2660 S. La Cienega Blvd. Los Angeles. Hours are 11 am to 6 pm, Tuesday through Saturday.

Preparing for Mom’s Friends

Liz Goldwyn was kind enough to pose for me in authentic 70s clothing from The Way We Wore on La Brea. (Not only is she luminous but also author of the magnificent book, Pretty Things)lizgoldwyn.jpg

I’m gathering old magazines from the 70s

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collecting textiles and hanging them all over the studio
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looking at 70s fashion on ebay…

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raiding all the old family photo albums

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(the artist at eight!)
It means making gouaches to work out palettes and compositions for the oil paintings.

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The Aesthetics of Memory

I’ve been perusing stacks of old photo albums to recall my mother and her friends’ style, their manner. The camera used from my childhood created these rather small square images. They’re very faded now. Mostly wide shots with the head smack in the middle. Our old photo albums are like everyone’s. Like the way old televisions shows’ newscasters have their heads smack in the middle of the screen.

The narrative of seeing all the pictures at once on an album page tells a story in a way that a single picture doesn’t. Even the aesthetics the photo album alters the way I recall past time. Today people either “scrapbook” where everything looks so ‘done’, or they never develop the photos since it’s on their computer/phone/email anyway. In the 70s there is a rawness to the hand of my mother haphazardly laying them on the sticky paper.

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Today, with disposal digital pictures (take twenty, keep one) people are much more experimental and favor tight shots and liberally clip the tops of heads. More prints are made, fewer treasured. I wonder if we’ll all reflect upon our future past with less preciousness as a result.

Leah Lehmbeck: Mom’s Friends

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The F-Word (“Feminism”) in Art by Leah Lehmbeck
On New Paintings by Kimberly Brooks

With Nancy Pelosi having taken her historic position at the rostrum and Hillary Clinton hitting the presidential campaign trail, we have undoubtedly entered a new era of feminism. The F-word is once again being bandied about, as is that perennial question, “Can we have it all?” And it is thus no surprise to find that in her latest series, “Mom’s Friends,” the artist Kimberly Brooks adds a new voice to the debate. In making her starting point her childhood in Marin County in the 1970s, Brooks concentrates on women who are, according to her, “endlessly fascinating and mysterious . . . particularly because they were in such a state of transition.” While Brooks explores the theme of womanhood through the imagery of female liberation some thirty years ago, she is also able to investigate to the complex relationship between reality, memory and representation.

The “woman question” has been continually up for discussion since the inception of modern feminism in the late 1960s. As universal as this topic is Brooks was specifically inspired by her role as the mother of a young daughter, saying in her artist statement: “Now that I am a mother with a daughter of my own, I see the way she studies me and my friends, how she imitates the way I walk and talk or wants to traipse in my heels”. Recalling how she used to do the same, Brooks turned to her own mother for inspiration, using photographs from the 1970s of her mother and her mother’s friends (actual, and recreated with friends in vintage clothing) as the basis for her work. By presenting women who migrated to California from the Midwest and East Coast and consequently “melted their inhibitions, heated up their styles and . . . shed previous notions of themselves,” Brooks’s paintings fix us at a significant time and place vis-à-vis the role of women. Indeed, beginning in the 1970s many of the women of that generation sought, for the first time, to forge their identities apart from their husbands and families. And it is this feature–their newfound autonomy–that Brooks presents, and inevitably positions, against the current state of feminism in her work.

Read whole review >

Scope Fair New York

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Taylor de Cordoba is pleased to be presenting new work by Kimberly Brooks at the Scope art fair in New York City next week. We hope you will come visit us at Booth 45.

SCOPE NEW YORK

The Scope Pavilion
Lincoln Center
Damrosch Park,
Corner of 62 Street and 10th Avenue
Upcoming Solo Exhibition “Mom’s Friends”
March 3 – April 7, 2007
Taylor De Cordoba Gallery

Mom’s Friends

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When I was a young girl, I remember my mother and her friends, their clothes, their dinner parties and their laughter, as a distinctly as a perfume.

 

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These women were not fifties housewives who stayed home and marvelled at the new technology of the dishwasher.

 

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This was Marin County in the 1970s, when love songs oozed from the radio, a geodesic dome spung from the lawn in our backyard and my mother put rhinestones on everything.

Now that I am a mother with a daughter of my own, I see the way she studies me and my friends, how she imitates the way I walk and talk or wants to traipse in my heels. While the imagery of women I paint in this series is unique to this time and place, the group itself is universal. In this series, investigate young mothers as a powerful subtribe around which everything evolves.

Markham Middle School

Today I visited a Markham Middle School. It is in the east side of Los Angeles. They have two giant empty buildings that use to be where they have a music program. The statistics of this school are grim. The kids are more likely to join a gang or be a victim of gang violence than graduate. Funerals of classmates are held throughout the year. I took some pictures of the walkway and for obvious reasons couldn’t take pictures of the kids. I really believe that if they had an arts program, things would change for the better. I was a dreamy kid, growing up in California in the public school system too. Art gave me hope and a mission. I’m on the board of a great organization called P.S. Arts (www.psarts.org) which raises money to put arts programs back in the public schools. I want to help Markham.

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I was only Born in New York

But i was raised here

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Speed of Light

I was at a dinner party tonite and a man was telling me how his ninety four year old mother was dying. She woke up in the middle of the night last night and said,
“Oh Henry, I thought it was seventy years ago and you were six years old and I was getting you a glass of milk!”
“No, mom, it’s not. It’s just me and i’m an old man and you’re an even older woman.”
“My god.” she clutched his arm. “It went by so fast.”

Whitney Curator selects LA Artist Kimberly Brooks for NY Group Exhibition

Whitney Curator selects LA Artist Kimberly Brooks for NY Exhibition
“Remote Viewing: Invented Worlds in Recent Painting and Drawing”
24th Juried Annual Exhibition at Pleiades Gallery in Chelsea, New York,
June 29th-July 27th, 2006

Los Angeles – Two paintings by LA artist Kimberly Brooks were selected this week by the curator of the Whitney Museum of Modern Art, Elisabeth Sussman, for inclusion in the 24th Annual Juried Exhibition at the Pleiades Gallery in New York City. Twenty artists were selected from sixteen hundred submissions in an international outreach.

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The Whole Story, Solo Exhibition

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In my series of paintings, “The Whole Story”, I investigate the roles of woman as artists and subjects of the. I appropriate erotic imagery of women in the early twentieth century to target a historical moment when the artist-model relationship was surrounded with sexual myths and Bohemian fantasies. I reverses roles and offer another way of viewing the female body, other than the assumption that such images are directed only to a male spectator. This includes recreating poses using myself and contemporary women as models. Fragmentation reflects the historical glorification of women’s body parts into elected zones of pleasure, while simultaneously interrupting the fluid trajectory of the male gaze. By assuming the role of the artist (and model) and recontextualizing these images, I place women as spectator, resituating control over the female image within a feminist representation.

I strive to advance the process; to explore the way viewing itself reinstates female power, becoming objects of her own vision. When even today there exists cultures who cover their women from head to toe, and others where flaunting is a right, notions of voyeurism, objectification and empowerment become even more relevant.

Van Gogh’s Hand, Cezanne’s Grave

Last night we watched a film about Vincent Van Gogh.vangoghhead.jpg

Here’s how it was structured: an actor read all the letters in chronological order while visuals of the Dutch landscape and eventually his drawings and paintings illustrated the voice over, Ken-Burns-Civil-War Style. They never showed the letters (below), I could only heard them through the voice over.
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Later, I took a shower and scrubbed my skin with lavender salts I had bought at Trader Joe’s. On the label, the word lavender is inscribed with a font called Cezanne. Someone took Cezanne’s letters and manuscripts and separated each alphabetical letter, turning it into a font. Now Cezanne’s handwriting adorns everything from book covers, bath salts, greeting cards, bath salts, anything to connote authenticity. They also made a font out of Van Gogh’s handwriting but it’s not as popular.

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Lavender Oil from the same product line
I used to avidly keep a journal. I had a beloved fountain pen to write entries, make sketches and draft letters. The bending nib captured my every gesture and stutter– it recorded my aesthetic DNA– my emotional state, my discipline, or lack of it with the ruthless accuracy of a blood pressure machine. People hardly write letters anymore. I don’t keep a journal anymore but for skywriting on wordpress. I really love technology but sometimes I mourn the things it has displaced.

Group Show in Chelsea, Curator Jordan Cantor MOMA

I thought i’d give you some snapshots of the trip to NY this past week. Arrived with my dear friend Karen at the 60 thompson hotel in SoHo…
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We ordered martinis on the rooftop when thunder clouds started forming. We machinated about how much we could squeeze into the next 48 hours.
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We walked up the street in the rain and had a late dinner at Balthazar.
All I could think about was the exhibition the next night.

The next day we went gallery hopping in Chelsea. My favorite exhibit was Jenny Seville at the Gagosian, Michael Steinberg Gallery and Remy Toledo. There were some surprises at the smaller galleries with excellent paintings. But the mood was very much photography and video installations over all.

* * * The Exhibition * * *

Opted for the assasin/vixen look to ward off evil.

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Wore killer assymetrical As4 dress with single spiral zipper that starts at my shoulder and goes all the way around my waste below my knees;
smokey eyes/pale lipstick…

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Since there were twenty artists with their friends and families, it couldn’t help but to resemble the joint (x20) bar mitzvah celebration of an overly ambitious temple. There were a lot of parents and friends of the winners so it was heavily packed with people who, perhaps, don’t often attend art shows. During the curator’s lecture, one lady in the back, in a strong brooklyn accent, asked, “I thought this was a juried show so where are the eleven members of the jury?” Hilarious. It was very cool to be selected as the curator, Jordan Kantor of MOMA, chose only 20 works of 1800 submissions. The work ranged from a megaphone sliced in half with marcaroni alphabet pasta — spray painted in black across the floor, 

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to a beaded maniquin’s head,

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to four stacks of black construction paper two feet high with blue paint streaked on the top…and the rest photographs and paintings. Jordan gave a talk during which he singled mine out as masterfully executed and being a “a modern riff on a 30s style”. He placed my painting next to a photograph of a rapper in the same position “all arms and lips” he said. Here’s the piece again below:
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After three hours in those shoes, we went to the Chelsea Hotel for tapas and cocktails for an “After Party”. Then we had a great sushi dinner but i’ll spare you a picture of raw fish.

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Now back home and into the studio~09studio.jpg

MOMA Curator Selects Brooks for Group Exhibition

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 31, 2005

MOMA Curator selects LA Artist Kimberly Brooks for NY Exhibition
23th Juried Annual Exhibition at Pleiades Gallery in Chelsea, New York,
June 29th-July 27th, 2005

Los Angeles – A painting by Los Angeles-based artist Kimberly Brooks was selected this week by the curator of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, Jordan Kantor, for inclusion in the 23th Annual Juried Exhibition at the Pleiades Gallery in New York City. Forty Artists were selected from sixteen hundred submissions in an international outreach.

The recognition of Brooks’ artwork comes while she prepares for her first solo exhibition, ‘The Whole Story’  The show will be at the Risk Press Gallery, an alternative space for emerging artists on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles.

The show’s focus on viewing is strongly connected to the themes in my recent exploration and modern recontexutalization of women figures’ says Brooks from the Venice, California studio where she works.

The Paintings

Brooks’ pieces for this exhibition are “Enid” and “Bluenote”, both paintings of women using oil on linen and a cool palette, but with strikingly different brush strokes and moods. In ‘Enid’, the eyes peer above the canvas and out of sight, beyond the viewer, prideful and uninhibited. The strokes are loose and free. While in ‘Bluenot’, the nude curls inward, the flesh and hair is polished, while her porcelain pallor evokes both a shiny stillness and study in contrast.

About the Artist

Kimberly Brooks works in oil painting and mixed media. Her work has been featured in numerous juried exhibitions whose jurors include Jordan Kantor of MOMA, Joan Hugo of the California Institute of the Arts and Chris Burden. Brooks earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from UC Berkeley and studied painting at Otis Art Institute and UCLA with artists Franklyn Leigel and Liat Yossifer, respectively.

CONTACT: To speak with Kimberly Brooks, for more information contact Heather Taylor at 310.559.9156 at Taylor De Cordoba.

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