Cathy Breslaw's Installation

Cathy Breslaw's Installation
Cathy Breslaw's Installation:Dreamscape

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

The New Academy Museum of Motion Pictures Opens In Los Angeles

 Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, Wilshire and Fairfax, Los Angeles 

Opens to the public: September 30th 

For ticketing and programming information: 

Article by Cathy Breslaw 

                                                         Aerial shot of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures  Academy Museum Foundation

Dawn Hudson, CEO of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences notes: “The dream of building a museum dedicated to movies has been 90 years in the making for the Academy”. Since 2012 when the Academy hired Renzo Piano Building Workshop as architects to build the museum, there have been collaborations of hundreds of leaders in the area of film, culture and education, non-profit specialists, scholars, curators, programmers, community builders, archivists, and Academy members. All have worked together to create the world’s premier movie museum in Los Angeles, the global center for moviemaking.

The 300,000 square foot museum campus features two buildings, a renovation and expansion of the May Company(built 1939), and a soaring glass spherical structure added to the north, featuring a terrace with broad views of the Hollywood Hills. Included in the buildings are theaters and exhibition spaces as well as a museum store offering film-related merchandise, and Oscars memorabilia designed exclusively for the store, and Fanny’s, a two story restaurant and café, named after Fanny Brice, the legendary theater and movie, vaudeville, and radio star of the 1920’s. 

The seven-story museum includes a 30,000 square foot core exhibition space spanning three floors: Stories of Cinema offering celebratory, critical and personal perspectives on the impact of moviemaking past and present,a temporary exhibition of acclaimed filmmaker Hayao Miyazai, his first museum retrospective in North America in addition to Studio Ghibli. Other offerings are: The Path to Cinema: Highlights from the Richard Balzer Collection, which are selections from the world’s foremost holdings of pre-cinematic optical toys and devices, Backdrop: An Invisible Art a double height installation that presents the painting of Mount Rushmore used in Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest (USA 1959), and The Oscars Experience an immersive simulation that lets viewers imaginatively step onto the stage of the Dolby Theater to accept an Academy Award. The Academy Awards History Galleries are in a circular gallery of 20 historic Oscar trophies and wins, moving into an historical walk-through from 1929 to the present, displaying the origins of the Oscars and the Academy, memorable wins and infamous snubs, Oscars fashion, and wraparound screens showcasing significant acceptance speeches. There is also the Directors Inspiration Gallery currently featuring the director Spike Lee’s personal collection of objects, considering his creative process and inspirations for his most iconic titles, the Story Gallery which includes screenplays and storyboards from seminal films, also highlighting the disciplines that brings a story to life – screenwriting, casting, make-up design, costume design, production and sound design, special effects, acting, directing, producing and more. 

There are a series of galleries dedicated to components of film artistry including a Performance Gallery, Sound Gallery, and Identity Gallery. And another gallery Impact/Reflection which explores how documentary and narrative film can ignite cultural change, structured around four social impact areas: Black Lives Matter, #MeToo, labor relations and climate change. There are also the Animation, Effects and Encounters Galleries, each highlighting the history of animation, special visual effects and the artistry that brings the worlds of sci-fi, fantasy and horror to life, as well as a Composer’s Inspiration Gallery. The museum will have a roster of movie screenings (including Oscar Sundays and Family Matinees) presented in its new 1000 seat David Gefen Theater and the 288 seat Ted Mann Theater. There will also be ongoing education and family programs taking place throughout the museum in exhibition galleries, theaters and the Shirley Temple Education Studio including: teen programs, family studio activities, and school tours.

The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures is destined to become one of Los Angeles’s greatest treasures and destinations for entertainment, education and inspiration. There are many grand opening festivities and offerings in October with ticket information all found on the museum webpages:

                                                Film Still, Ray Bolger, Bert Lahr, Judy Garland, Jack Haley in The Wizard of Oz (USA 1939)

                                                    Film Still,   My Neighbor Totoro (1988)    Hayao Miyazaki    1988 Studio Ghibli  

                                                       Anna May Wong and Marlene Dietrich, scene from Shanghai Express,  1932  
                                                                                  Film Still,  Shanghai Express(USA 1939)

                                    "Bruce the Shark" Installation at the Academy of Motion Pictures, Los Angeles  November 2020
                                                                Credit: Photo by Todd Wawrychuk  Academy Museum Foundation

Monday, September 20, 2021

Star Trek:Exploring New Worlds Exhibition at Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles

Star Trek: Exploring New Worlds 
Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles 
October 7 – February 20, 2022 

™ and © 2021 CBS Studios, Inc. © 2021 Paramount Pictures Corp. STAR TREK and related marks and logos are trademarks of CBS Studios, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


"To boldly go where no man has gone before." If you are a Star Trek fan no doubt you have heard these words before. Famously spoken by Captain James T. Kirk, of the U.S.S. Enterprise, his words immediately came to mind while visiting Star Trek: Exploring New Worlds opening to the public at the Skirball Cultural Center October 7th. 

 The exhibition organized by the Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle, includes a dizzying array of 100’s of artifacts and props, numerous scripts, conceptual artworks, set pieces and costumes spanning over 50 years since the original series aired between 1966-1969. Though the original series was cancelled, when it went into syndication in the 1970’s it prospered, building a huge audience. During the 1980’s the show’s creator, producer and writer Gene Roddenberry launched Star Trek: The Next Generation and several motion pictures and in 2009, a re-boot of the series followed. Enthusiasm for Star Trek fueled the success of comic books, cartoons, novels, action figures and other merchandise as well as Star Trek themed conventions attended by thousands at various venues around the world. 

The exhibition highlights Star Trek themes of diversity, fellowship, friendship, forgiveness, equality and acceptance as well as portraying its’ continuing impact on culture, art and technology and how it led people to create and invent. The exhibit gives visitors the opportunity to see how the technology envisioned in the series has become real-life technology such as cellphones, tablets and virtual reality devices. Star Trek broke boundaries with its vision of cooperation and inclusion where humans and aliens work together for the common goal of exploring the galaxy.The show was set in a 23rd century world where interplanetary travel was an established fact and where divides of race, gender, and nationality didn’t exist, using alien cultures to comment on contemporary issues. And, Star Trek was one of the first American series to promote racial diversity and multiculturalism in both cast and themes. 

Whether it’s Captain Kirk’s original command chair and navigation console, Dr. Spock’s tunic worn by Leonard Nimoy, a Borg costume, Uhura ‘s dress (worn by Nichelle Nichols), or Captain Picard’s uniform(worn by Patrick Stewart) visitors will be enthralled. Spaceship filming models of the U.S.S. Enterprise, U.S.S Excelsior, U.S.S. Phoenix, and Deep Space Nine space station are also on display. 

Star Trek:Exploring New Worlds is a fun, educational, thought-provoking and captivating experience for all ages.

Friday, July 2, 2021

Chinese Artist Ai Wei Wei Celebrates Global Activism in Lego Portrait Installation at the Skirball Cultural Center


Ai Wei Wei, Artist

Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles

Ai Wei Wei, Artist

Through July 31st

Article by Cathy Breslaw

                             Trace      Ai Wei Wei             room installation           legos                                       2014

The installation Trace created by artist Ai Wei Wei includes 83 portraits of ordinary citizens imprisoned by their countries because of their outspoken social activism. Originally introduced in 2014 at Alcatraz prison in San Francisco, the portraits are completely comprised of thousands of lego bricks, set within three white lego panels placed on the floor within the Skirball gallery space.

The creation of Trace was shaped by Wei Wei’s own experiences as a prisoner of the Chinese government. Having previously been beaten and censored for his activism and outspoken criticism of totalitarian regimes, in 2011 he was arrested and secretly detained for 81 days, during which he was interrogated and kept under constant surveillance, and then prohibited from traveling abroad until 2015. He conceived and planned Trace during this period. Wei Wei was inspired by his young son’s legos, as he saw them as a playful, accessible and mass produced material that has global familiarity and connection.

Political dissidents from twenty-three countries comprise the portraits including the United States, Laos, Thailand, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Indonesia, India, Russia, North Korea, Kazakhstan, Eritrea, Gambia, Turkmenistan, Belarus, Cuba, Ethiopia, Egypt, Cameroon, Sudan, Rwanda, Azerbaijan, Vietnam, China and Myanmar. While most of the names are unrecognizable to us in the United States, most are well known in their own countries and seen as advocates for human dignity and freedom of speech. Known here in the United States are portraits of Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Edward Snowden, and Chelsea Manning.

The layout of portraits on the floor draws the viewer directly to the faces depicted. Due to the hard-edged brightly colored lego shape, these portraits look pixelated and relate to what we might see in surveillance tapes. On the walls of the gallery space is a bold wallpaper designed by Wei Wei entitled The Animal That Looks Like a Llama but Is Really an Alpaca. At first glance, the pattern looks decorative, but looking closely, we see hidden iconography like handcuffs, surveillance cameras and alpacas—a mascot for freedom of expression in Chinese internet culture.

We may not know the activists included in the portraits, we can understand the hard fought value of freedom of speech and standing up for social justice in our own communities. The exhibition together with Wei Wei’s decades long commitment to free speech, is consistent with the Skirball Cultural Center’s mission which is inspired by Jewish values to build a more humane society. Wei Wei’s thought provoking installation brings awareness and may inspire conversations about social justice issues common to all countries around the globe.

                                       Trace      Ai Wei Wei             (detail) room installation                   2014

The Animal That Looks Like a Llama But Is Really an Alpaca          Ai Wei Wei       wallpaper    2015

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Getty Center's Photo Flux: Unshuttering LA Exhibition Challenging Perspectives on Race

Photo Flux: Unshuttering LA

The Getty Center, Los Angeles

Through October 10, 2021

Article by Cathy Breslaw

                    Support Systems,    1984     Todd Gray   American   Mixed Media  81 1/2 x 89 in. © Todd Gray   EX.2020.6.13

The Getty Unshuttered is a free photo-sharing app directed toward building a positive community for teens to develop and express their own visual language. What better way to motivate budding photographers than to experience the recently opened exhibition at the Getty Center’s photography gallery Photo Flux: Unshuttering LA. Independent curator Jill Moniz who launched the show is the first black woman to have guest curated a show at the Getty which highlights 35 acclaimed artists of color. Since 2017, Moniz has also showcased the work of young photographers to engage and encourage them in ways to re-imagine their communities, to inspire one other and promote social justice advocacy.

Through the medium of photography Photo Flux: Unshuttering LA educates viewers young and old with the history of race seen through the eyes of Black, Hispanic and Asian American artists. Often noted as ‘transformative photography’ these powerful images portray both the violent and the sublime in our culture past and present in the treatment of people of color. Artist Todd Gray whose photograph Support Systems(1984) is the featured image of the show depicting a large black and white set of 2 photos taped together and spray painted. The image, a strong black boxer hitting a tall city building is interpreted as a metaphor of black men fighting capitalism, white supremacy and asserting black identity. This was one of a series of images Gray hung around Exposition Park during the 1984 LA Olympics, taking the photographs out of the context of a museum to share with greater impact to the broader community.

Photographer Tony Gleaton was known for his African influence in the American West, in documenting Native American ranch hands and in following the African Diaspora and black slave trade routes. Gleaton toured Central and South America photographing descendants of slaves. Usually observed and represented as passive objects in photographs, Gleaton’s models in contrast, look directly into the camera gaining an intimacy with the viewer, emphasizing the model as active participant in creating the photos. Gleaton’s subjects were people mainly considered invisible to society, poor and out of the mainstream. He wanted to create beautiful portraits, images captured with honor and respect.

Another work in the gallery is a large blue cyanotype of an undersea composition by mixed media conceptual artist Andrea Chung, who is of both Chinese and Jamaican dissent. Her beautiful and peaceful underwater seascape is the result of her research of the transatlantic slave trade of Africans brought to the ‘new world’ mostly to the Caribbean Island nations and paying homage to the many lives lost in the middle of the ocean journey to America.

Gordon (2016), an 8 foot tall chromogenic print by Ken Gonzales -Day, whose work has focused on racialized violence, is a portrait of a young Latino man casually posed, hands in pockets and dressed in a sleeveless white t-shirt. The large scale format together with the man’s eyes staring into the eyes of the viewer presents a complex and intense expression. This image was part of Gonzales-Day’s portrait series Memento Mori where he would tell his models about lynchings that took place in California after which he would count to three and then take their pictures. The results were emotional portrayals of young men, not the stereotypical threats to the world who are often profiled, and as are often viewed by the general public.

Two circular photos by artist Carrie Mae Weems portray young black girls wearing dresses with flowers in their hair posed reclining in the grass. Weems positioned these girls in ways reminiscent of the work of white master painters like Monet or Manet, challenging viewers to see the beauty and grace of these girls as they would have seen other subjects. Rather than presenting black people as tools of labor and property, they are portrayed just as any other white photo subjects.

Photo Flux: Unshuttering LA spotlights the importance of transformative photography – how a particular photographic visual language can influence us in meaningful ways and to build awareness of our own personal stereotypes. It also sensitizes us to think deeply about how we view people of color, class structures, our culture and how history has influenced our thinking.

                                  Gordon      2016      Ken Gonzales-Day       American       Chromogenic print Image: (96 × 59 3/4 × 1 in.) 
                                             Courtesy of the artist and Luis De Jesus Los Angeles    © Ken Gonzales-Day EX.2020.6.5

                                        Untitled        2016      April Banks        American     Chromogenic print        Image: 40.6 × 50.8 cm (16 × 20 in.)    

                                                               Framed:  (16 1/8 × 20 1/8 × 1in.)                      © April Banks    EX.2020.6.1.4


Thursday, February 4, 2021

Four Women Artists: Experiments in Stone at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego

Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego 

Experiments on Stone: Four Women Artists From The Tamarind Lithography Workshop 

Digital Exhibition Opens February 8, 2021 – Ongoing

article by Cathy Breslaw 

 Many artists focus on mastering one medium throughout their art practices over their career lifetimes. The digital exhibition Experiments on Stone takes visitors through the practices of four women artists who stepped out of their chosen mediums to experiment with lithographic prints at the Tamarind Lithography Workshop during the 1960’s. 

 Lithography is a two-dimensional ink printing method on stone or metal and at Tamarind, artists experimented and collaborated with several different printers in the process of creating their works on paper. Founded by artist June Wayne in 1960, Tamarind was to be a place to restore the art of lithography which had dwindled during the 1950s due to economic issues. In the first decade of the workshop over two hundred artists were invited to train in this method and work with master printers. Many of them were women, and among them were well established twentieth century artists Annie Albers, Ruth Asawa, Gego and Louise Nevelson. 

 Curated by Alana Hernandez, this exhibition emphasizes the lesser studied parts of these artists’ practices, and while each of the four artists investigated using differing lithographic methods, the works reveal a consistency of the core ideas each spent their art practices creating. 

Anni Albers   Enmeshed I,1963   Color Lithograph   20.25" x 27"
Collection of the Museum of Contemporary Art 
Gift of Mr./Mrs. Martin L. Gleich, San Diego, 1964.109
c) 2021 Josef and Anni Albers Foundation/Artists Rights Society(ARS), New York

 While Albers and Asawa shared a foundation in weaving, Nevelson and Gego followed inquiries into the use of line to create architectural forms and building. Albers was known for her use of vivid color relationships and patterning in weavings and textiles. She found that prints not only allowed her to create thread forms in a painterly way that loosely resembled weaving, they also sometimes incorporated using acid to produce splotched and cloudy grounds. The production of prints also gave Albers a practical way to show this two-dimensional work. 

Ruth Asawa   Desert Plant (TAM.1460)    1965   Color Lithograph  18.5" x 18.5"
Collection of the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego
Gift of Mr./Mrs. Martin L. Gleich, San Diego, 1970.111
c) 2021 Estate of Ruth Asawa/ Artists Rights Society(ARS), New York

Asawa used ‘line’ or ‘thread’ by working with wire to create delicate weavings of three-dimensional sculptural shapes and installations referencing natural forms. Many are suspended from ceilings. Asawa attended Tamarind in 1965 where she developed over fifty prints from themes of abstractions, portraits and flower studies. Her figurative works are intimate renderings of friends and family – some are created with free-flowing sketchy lines while others use ink and washes using thick pulpy paper. In Desert Plant, Asawa used sacred radial geometry of the natural world in warm colors composed of forms resembling branches. This work highlighted her experimentation with both color and form.

Gego   Untitled (TAM.1845), 1966   Color Lithograph   22.25" x 22 1/8"
Collection of the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Martin L. Gleich, San Diego  1970.163
c) Fundacion Gego

Like Asawa, the artist Gego (born Gertrude Goldschmidt) used wire as her primary medium and also like Asawa, her practice focused on the ‘line’. In contrast, however, Gego used wire as a kind of drawing tool to create abstracted three-dimensional forms that reflected her background in architecture, making loosely formed grid-like structures that organically flowed in space. In her lithographs, in collaboration with several printers at Tamarind (in 1963, 1966), Gego explored the containment and expansiveness of two-dimensional space using drawn black thick and thin calligraphic lines, curvy and straight. 

Louise Nevelson    Untitled, 1963   Lithograph    34" x 23.5" 
Collection of the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego
Gift of Mr./Mrs. Martin L. Gleich, San Diego, 1964.96
c) 2021 Estate of Louise Nevelson/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

When Nevelson attended the Tamarind Workshop, she had not previously experimented with lithographs. She was known for her sculptures - monumental wood wall pieces and outdoor sculptures constructed from found objects and fragmented items that she re-visioned into new artwork. For most of her career she used line drawings as a tool to create her sculptural works, just as the other three artists in this exhibition had done. With lithographs, Nevelson produced prints that referenced similar themes to those in her sculptures. She would draw and build with the use of objects like erasers, lace, cheesecloth, and torn fabrics pressed into mostly black, and occasionally dark blue and brick-red ink and then applied directly on to stone. These experimental ideas were then translated to various papers into prints. 

The digital exhibition displays seventy-eight prints which come from the museum’s collection, providing a snapshot of the Tamarind Workshop created during the 1960’s and to the prints by Albers, Asawa, Gego and Nevelson. Alongside these prints, viewers will see examples of their three-dimensional artworks coming from their primary art practices. Tamarind became a blueprint for new print shops with master printers that opened up in other locations and Tamarind itself moved to Albuquerque New Mexico in 1970 and remains affiliated with the University of New Mexico. 

Experiments in Stone gives viewers a glimpse into four artists’ creative processes as they apply a willingness to make time from their established modes of art-making to experiment and ‘see what happens’.

Monday, September 21, 2020

Working In Isolation: Collaborations and Mentoring Neurodiverse Artists Brings New Direction and Inspiration to the Work of This Artist

Most artists work in relative isolation.  Our collective art practices and the creative process demands it.  It goes against the human urge to congregate and socialize.  Still, we persevere as the 'call to create' nudges us.  We then deliberately make space - intellectually, emotionally and physically. We move forward quietly, with intention and faith in the process.

Never have we been more aware of isolation than time spent in this Corona Virus pandemic environment. It is not our choice, but as artists we are familiar and in some ways ahead of the game over our fellow citizens by our familiarity and relative comfort with the loneliness of self - containment.  

During the pandemic San Diego artist Amanda Saint Claire experiments with new mediums, new themes and a fruitful connection via collaborations, and mentoring to neurodiverse artists.


                                              Acquainted With the Night      acrylic and oil      45" x 65"     2019

During Pandemic:

                                                      Censored  acrylic and oil      36" x 48"         2020

                                                   Carrying On      oil and acrylic       36" x 48"       2020

1.  How has your work shifted during the pandemic?  Has it been a change in the process of your creating art?  The mediums you use? The themes or concepts you are thinking about?


I have always preferred to work in isolation but when the stay at home orders went into effect I spent the first week at home with my children trying to figure out what it all meant.  Once it became clear that the situation would last longer I returned to the studio and completed a large commission that had been ordered in January and put the final touches on a body of work that was scheduled for a summer show at Fresh Paint Gallery in La Jolla.  Once the days turned to weeks and I delivered the commission I started working full time delivering groceries because I felt I had to be of service.   I was in an emergency responder mode working 10 hours 7 days a week finding items people needed most.  In addition to this, the situation in my own studio changed in June and I started subletting one of the rooms in my studio to neurodiverse emerging artist, Katie Flores. 

I was still not creating my own work however, and noticing the lack of balance, I decided to set up two new opportunities for myself to explore at the studio to peak my curiosity.  I bought a large supply of acrylic paint and mediums (I am an oil painter) and  I invited another artist to my large studio to work on my figure drawing.  While I have worked with figures in the past, my primary concern is capturing emotional states so looking carefully at references was a new muscle to develop.  Also, learning to accept the limitations of acrylic paint and embrace the good parts of the media was another challenge that kept me focused. I found both the media and the reference drawing challenging but I was very happy with the results of that effort and I'm sure I will continue to employ and develop those skills.

I became very focused on the repeating theme of women lifting up and loving other women. I continued to throw myself into the role of Katie's mentor and our hours together increased due to the closure of all her other programs and I was able to watch her blossom with great delight  while continuing to work on my figures of women.

It wasn't until later that I realized that I was painting about myself and my work with Katie and my role as a mother to two teenage daughters and the need to unite against a patriarchal system that permeates all aspects of society, including the art world.


2.  What have you discovered about yourself as an artist during this pandemic?

I have a deep seated desire to seek justice for those whom society has disregarded.  I think perhaps this started for me as child watching my deaf grandparents struggle to be treated with respect.  I could hear the things people said about them when we were in public and it made me angry.  This is likely why I went to Tulane Law and  became an attorney and practiced law, although I never went on to work with  human rights organizations because I wasn't truly aware of my motivations.  I just felt angry and life had other plans for me once I married, moved to S.E. Asia and had 3 children. 

 When I shifted to being a full time artist in my mid-40's I felt like I was finally in my right skin, but I struggled to find satisfaction to effect lasting change in the world. I felt selfish and that  I was turning my back on humanity but it was all I felt I could do. I eventually came to understand that by creating a place of peace within I was contributing to peace in the world.

The gift of the pandemic has been the opportunity to work one on one with a talented young woman, Katie Flores,  who has a passion, work ethic, and talent to become a professional artist but cannot do so on her own because of the limitations she has due to being diagnosed as Austistic as a young girl.

I have discovered that I have a gift as a mentor. I can finally feel at ease as an artist creating opportunities for another artist that would otherwise be marginalized and excluded from fully participating in the world.  I have introduced Katie to other artists and lined up shows for her and set up an e-commerce website.

The pandemic has given me the gift of marrying these two parts of myself and restoring peace within that I am taking right action to affect change in the world.

3.  What have been your biggest challenges working in isolation?  Surprises?

I can't say I had a challenge to my work because I have my own studio.  The challenges were more mental, emotional, and physical.  I just didn't feel right going to paint, outside of finishing projects.  I felt I could be of more value delivering groceries and supplies to those unable to go out.

The biggest challenge was not seeing my friends and not having access to my gym and feeling guilty that my children were just sitting at home all the time. I had just established a fitness routine at age 50 and was finally feeling that I had a nice work/life balance when the pandemic hit.  I haven't been able to find good routines since.

The surprise was that I would return to school to finish my certification as an Expressive Arts Consultant and Educator during the pandemic and discover that I can finally feel like I am living in my truth by working towards justice as an artist working with neurodiverse artists.  

Periods of darkness have always held truths for me to discover.  I started painting and discovered I was an artist during a long period of depression and so it makes sense to me that another trying situation would reveal another truth to me.  I look forward to a long and fruitful career collaborating with and mentoring other artists.

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Working In Isolation: Loss of His Father and Step-Father, This Artist Turned Grief Into Inspiration, Creating an Exhibition for Queer Artists

Most artists work in relative isolation.  Our collective art practices and the creative process demands it.  It goes against the human urge to congregate and socialize.  Still, we persevere as the 'call to create' nudges us.  We then deliberately make space - intellectually, emotionally and physically. We move forward quietly, with intention and faith in the process.

Never have we been more aware of isolation than time spent in this Corona Virus pandemic environment. It is not our choice, but as artists we are familiar and in some ways ahead of the game over our fellow citizens by our familiarity and relative comfort with the loneliness of self - containment.  

Los Angeles artist Ryan Henisey creates sculpture, installation and performance art. Having lost his father and step-father during the pandemic, he has turned his grief into inspiration and curated an exhibition called Queer Isolation at the TAG Gallery that runs through the end of October, 2020.


           Are We Out of the Woods   hanging paper cut-outs of trees, papier mache hearts with wings  2019

During Pandemic:

                   Henisey Talks About Performance in Interview      Link:

                    QUEER Isolation           Curated exhibition, TAG Gallery                  August - October 2020

1) How has your work shifted during the pandemic? Has it been a change in the process of you creating art? The mediums you use? The themes or concepts you are thinking about?

 The pandemic has slowed me down. And that’s a great thing.


In “regular” life, I‘d be operating at a mile a minute, balancing a career, the needs of an artist cooperative, my own practice, and life. All while zipping around in my little orange car.


But with global shut downs, Stay Home orders in California, and increasing needs at the gallery, I’ve slowed my creative and exhibition goals to better fit the shifting world.


Creatively, I’d planned on debuting in China with a cohort of Los Angeles Art Association artists, exhibiting a solo show at TAG Gallery, and more. As those plans delayed, I decided to take time explore new ideas and focus on elevating the cooperatives gallery experience for both our artists and patrons.


This space has allowed me to focus on artwork outside of my normal practice. I’ve experimented with new materials—such as papier mache, plaster, and concrete.


And rather than focusing on my own exhibition, I was inspired to make space for queer artists. QUEER isolation, was a small celebration of pride that displayed through August. The show is in my studio at TAG Gallery and features 20 different artists, from as far west as Honolulu, Hawaii to as far east as South Bend, Indiana. The display is extended through the end of October 2020.


It’s been a joy to see and experience the art of others, especially in this time where we are isolating and keeping distance.



2) What have you discovered about yourself as an artist during this pandemic? 


Oh my! So much, but everything that feels new is also an old friend.


I’ve spent a lot of time on self reflecting, taking more than a handful of personality tests. Going into

the pandemic, was a period of loss for me—both my father and step-father passed within a month of 

each other, leaving the hollow places we all experience with grief. The personality tests were a way to 

ground myself (and look out for those parts of myself then can be read negatively by others).


In the refreshers, I was struck by how often my ruthless drive towards accomplishment was discussed. Across all of the tests, that thread of zeal was identified as important and set part of my personality.


The amplification of our emotional states in isolation has certainly shown that ruthlessness to be true. 

I tend to be unrelenting when pursuing a worthy goal.


While that part of myself is not new—nor even new to me—the hyper awareness of it through grief 

and isolation is something that has changed. I’m not likely to apologize for my zeal, but I will forewarn you of it.


 3) What have been your biggest challenges working in isolation? Surprises?


My biggest challenge in isolation was being “trapped” in the same room. Until July, I was on special assignment for work, responding specifically to Covid-19. The hours were long and the impact was

quite stressful (both are atmospheres where I thrive). But the small spare room at home (half artist studio, half partner’s office) was much too small and confining for me.


I really missed the studio most. Though only slightly larger of a room, my work/show space in the

Loft at TAG Gallery is one of my favorite things. Having it closed from March to June was a loss.


Conversely, I was able to put more hours in fine art creation and experimentation. So while it was

a challenge to keep myself in a smaller space than I’d grown accustomed, it was nice to spend more time making.