PRESS RELEASE August 14th, 2017
VENICE BOHEMIA: 3 ARTISTS 3 DECADES
Opening September 9th, 2017 at Joshua Tree Art Gallery
Robert Schwan, Alan Shaffer, Barbara Schwan
Three longtime friends and Venetians join forces to showcase their respective talents, encompassing mediums in painting, photography, collage and ceramics.
Their careers and friendships span over 3 decades ensconced in the bohemian artists enclave of Venice, Ca.
On a recent trip to Chicago where I was born and raised, I remembered that my Grandmother Ruth and Aunt Mitzi who lived upstairs from us would cover vases with modeling clay and press costume jewelry into them to create these bizarre and glorious objects. They went on to do the entire front of their fireplace mantel.
I decided that this must have carried over to my high school art class assignment to create an assemblage. I took apart an old clock I found in our basement and reassembled it into a face.
In my early twenties living in Los Angeles I started using collage elements to create flyers for various bands I was playing in at the time.
I became interested in photography and that intersected with my collage ideas.
I started keeping a collage diary from my photographs and clippings I collected daily from newspapers, magazines and whatever scraps I might come upon during my travels.
I was invited to be a featured artist on the Venice Art Walk in 2008 with an exhibit of my photography and that is when I began focusing on my art.
In 2012 I had my first solo show at Here is Elsewhere Gallery located in the Pacific Design Center.
Since then I have participated in group shows in Paris, New York and Santa Fe.
I work with dura-trans lightboxes, photography, sculpture and video.
I think dreams are collages in the sense that they are unexpected fragments of sub-conscious that are only free when conscious thought is shut off.
I create and collect images and put them back together in jig-saw fashion that reflect life through my own anthropological lens.
My father was an architect whose passion was photography. Earliest memories are at age four with him in a darkroom putting a seemingly blank piece of paper in a smelly liquid and watching an image appear. That magic moment still burns over five decades on.
Soon after graduating from Art Center College of Design, I moved from Pasadena to Venice, falling head first into the fine art crowd of the 1980’s. My first studio was two down from Terry O’Shea, an artist’s artist if there ever was one. O’Shea’s space was a gathering point. The regular characters were Boyd Elder, Larry Bell, Susan Vogel, Doug Edge, Laddie Dill, Eric Orr, Ron Cooper, Lisa Lyons, Sauren Crow, Peter Alexander, Jim Ganzer, Stanley Grinstein, Joe Ray and that’s just scratching the surface. Terry took me under his wing. I gained their trust and respect allowing access to their process and lives. These portraits are a peek into my archives of over 36 years.
In 2016 Shaffer collaborated with Ed Moses for “ Cross Pollination”, a show of
paintings & photographs at Craig Krull Gallery at Bergamot Station in Santa Monica , Ca.
“In my late 20s, I was searching for my own voice and I started doing these automatic drawings to free myself.” A serious dancer at the time, Barbara realized that she didn’t enjoy performing and left her dance company. “I translated that love of movement into my drawing. I remember the first one I did—that was the aha moment.” That line has stayed with her and appears in her paintings, drawings and ceramics.
Originally from New Mexico, Barbara moved to Venice in 1975 after studying in Paris and then attending Scripps College, where she majored in painting and French.
Most of her work is centered on depictions of home. That focus started in the late 80s. The paintings are largely abstract, with references to the neighborhood she lives in and the abundance of plants and flowers that surround us in this land of perpetual summer. “I draw these homes and the lights are on so you know people are there, but I never paint people.” Instead, she opts to show them as energy passing through. Colorful and joyful her paintings often remind people of animation.