10 California Artists Ready to Change the Way You See the World

The who’s-who of break out California artists making waves.

Venice Beach has its colonies, Santa Monica a bevy of industry collectors and downtown L.A. is in full- throttle renaissance mode. So why wouldn’t edgy artists transplant themselves to southern California? Even down the choked 405 south in San Diego and up north to the Bay Area, alternative galleries are willing to market new genius to upscale collectors. Aggressive marketing, word of mouth and shows delivering meet-ups get those artists on the map in the sunny gallery terrain beyond eastern Mary Boone country.

Here are 10 notables stirring attention:

Nicole Buffet, Berkeley

Graduate of the San Francisco Art Institute in 2004, Buffet is the disowned granddaughter of Warren Buffet, the whole black sheep saga allegedly resulting from her participation in The One Percent, a funny doc about disparities between America’s rich and poor. Still, the name brings a cache and she has the talent to stand on her own with her cubed brown packing paper stories – mini books woven like an evolutionary quilt revealing clues of the latest lost generation. Buffet recently got raves at her installation, Viva Novelita, at the Candy Store Collective in San Francisco.

Cassandria Blackmore, San Francisco

Internationally sought after pioneering reverse artist who graduated from Pacific Northwest College of Art, Blackmore received the prestigious Hauberg Fellowship for her painting on glass. Her figurative and abstract works push beyond traditional boundaries of glass into a more contemporary expression. Her unconventional process came sixteen years ago when removing glass from a frame, painting a self portrait, shattering it and then reassembling it like a puzzle.

Cybele Rowe, San Diego

Originally from Sydney, Australia, abstract ceramic sculptor Rowe studied at the City Art University of New South Wales and has exhibited her work and lectured at the Smithsonian as well as galleries such as the William Merrill in Laguna, Ca. and at the Laguna Museum of Art. She molds, fires and glazes freestanding pieces at Mission Clay Products in Corona, California to produce works like the Evolution of Curve, reflective of her love affair with clay as the most honest and sensual of media.

Samuel Borkson and Arturo Sandoval III- FriendsWithYou

An inventive tag team collaborating on iconic inflatable sculptures like the black-and-white Phantom, plush and wooden toys, bounce houses and ticklish installations, these two artists known as FriendsWithYou are among the Miami transplants to Los Angeles. No matter where they export their good works, they’ve created a design resource center to showcase sculpture and market/merchandise their brand for wide distribution. Their installations gained attention at the Art Basel Miami and they enjoy permanent collections at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) , the Indianapolis Museum of art and the Haus der Kulturen der Welt Museum of Berlin among others.

 Jimmy O’ Neal, Los Angeles

A lifelong interest in quantum theory and multi-dimensionality is revealed in Southern born O’ Neal’s recent Paradisio exhibit at Lowe Gallery, in which archetypal icons of myth and legend are channeled via orgies of sensually swirled paint. The series of paintings by the artist, who studied at Savannah College of Art and Design, are executed with scientifically augmented materials such as colorless paint which brilliantly reflects light as a mirror when applied on sanded plexiglass. “They have to be seen live to appreciate the liquid extravagance, undulating orgasmic spectacle and the exceptionally intelligent conceptual elements that combine to make him and this show his tour de force,” observed gallery owner, Bill Lowe.

Olga Lah, Los Angeles

A student of both art and theology, Fuller graduate Lah was  the 2010 recipient of the Getty Multicultural Intern Alumni Award as well as the American Association of Museum Conference Fellowship. And those are just the latest in recognition of her brilliance at craft. like many of  the new LA breed, she has participated in collaborative shows at edgy venues such as Gallery 825. Using humble materials in repetitious labor and craft, she says she seeks to question perception and the nature of reality, “after a kind of precarious monumentality.” Her sculpture and installations engage the viewer in a sensory experience said to remind us of our own physicality.

 Gustav Godoy, Los Angeles

About to debut his second solo exhibition with the Honor Fraser Gallery, Godoy brings a minimal approach to a new body of cast concrete sculptures in Vacant Mounds and Markers which quietly examines spiritual spaces and secular objects positioned at ground level. The mounds’ reference stems from the pitching mound at L.A.’s Dodger Stadium, which is said to be sacred to Godoy who was transcended by the World Series Championship led by Mexican pitcher Fernando Valenzuela in 1981. The ensuing Fernandomania helped assuage controversy over the history of the stadium built in Chavez Ravine, home to a vibrant Mexican American community. Godoy – who has starred in a host of impressive mixed media solo acts – received an MA from Vermont College in Montpelier and also graduated from UCSB and studied architecture and urban design at UCLA.

 Rosson Crow, Los Angeles

A graduate of Yale, Crow’s ink, acrylic and oil canvases such as Unhinged, 2012, also was part of a solo exhibit, Ballyhoo Hullabaloo Haboob, at Honor Fraser. Crow has earned a name for her theatrical and lush paintings featuring decadent interiors, but her more recent work is seen as a departure as she explores the intimate, psychological and emotional dimensions of sober gilded eras of the past. In that exploration, she taps a frenzied nationalistic collective memory in bleak Dust Bowl towns struggling to survive, to celebratory tickertape parades – all emblematic of American growth and decline.

Kristin Calabrese, Los Angeles

Paintings like this one of 3,000 Band-Aids from her Back of My Face exhibit explore the relationships between internal emotion and the world outside using familiar objects as vehicles for expressing Calabrese’s thoughts and angst. Other works deal with household brooms, plywood or self-portraits featuring the artist balancing spaghetti or a potted plant atop her head. An MFA graduate of UCLA, she has enjoyed solo exhibits with the Leo Koenig Gallery in New York, as well as the Gagosian Gallery in Beverly Hills and the  Southern California Institute of Architecture in L.A.

 Bonny Lhotkha, Los Angeles

Her Digital Darkroom exhibit at the Annenberg Space for Photography showcased Lhotka’s extraordinary mastery of printing works on unusual surfaces from glass to acrylic to aluminum – as well as pushing the envelope with drywall, bamboo and rusty tin. A past artist-in-residence at the Smithsonian, she sees time as a fluid medium to be manipulated the same as paint.  “My art explores the continuum of time,” she explains. “I gather images by looking closely at them in a historic aspect. I look for surfaces that reflect passage of time.” In addition to her images being included in over 100 collections, her work is shown internationally and she is the founder of the digital artist collaborative, The Digital Atelier.

Images: Friendswithyou

Luanne Bradley

Luanne Sanders Bradley is the West coast Editor at EcoSalon and currently resides in San Francisco, California.