Launch LA proudly presents two solo exhibitions from artists Cherie Benner Davis and Greg Rose. At first glance, the two shows are paradoxical, a parallel of urban and natural landscapes. Whether inspired by the built metropolis of freeway connections or the woodlands of the San Gabriel Mountains, Davis and Rose capture the profound connection to their environment and a keen perception of the expansive, diverse terrain of Los Angeles.
Los Angeles is a driving town. It was planned that way; its complex array of freeways and concrete structures were built at a time when automobiles were rapidly becoming the transportation mode-of-choice within the urban sprawl of the city. Owning a car is still synonymous with the American Dream, a symbol of freedom, status and virility. LA’s concrete highways are part of our landscape, as much as palm tree-lined streets, manicured lawns and scavenging seagulls. We map our lives as we move throughout this place, and the flattened, exaggerated perspectives in Benner Davis’ compositions mirror our visual encounters of the city: the underbellies of bridges, cropped views of on-ramps and a desolate stoplight devoid of pedestrians. Working from photographs taken on Benner Davis’ daily commutes, LA Pastoral removes all human activity to focus on the structured environment itself. In certain paintings, a palette of pinks, blues and greens replaces the monochromatic skyline of concrete grey; a playful nod at the neon signs of America’s driving culture. This is Los Angeles re-imagined: a pre-built ideal or a post-apocalyptic dream.
The crossover between what is natural and what is designed is at the core of Greg Rose’s work. Tree Stories explores an ongoing collection of tree images inspired by Rose’s hiking excursions in the San Gabriel Mountains of Los Angeles, where amidst the forested landscape, Rose sketches detailed renderings of various trees in gouache that he later references when building more complex compositions of singular or plural trees. Focusing on each tree as an individual story within a larger narrative, just like the diversity of members in a family, Rose dramatizes the role of each tree and highlights their unique qualities. In a sense, each tree has its own story isolated within the picture plane. When viewed as a complete exhibition, the interplay between each painting mirrors the tension and connections we find in our own lives and social relationships – an individual as a part of a larger community, distinctive yet interdependent.