Razing the Bar?

By Stacy Davies

Posted May 23, 2013 in Arts & Culture

8artRAISINGTHEBAR (DAWN by Pedro Fuentes)Art galleries 1; booze joints 0

Over the last few years there’s been a philosophical tug o’war in the Pomona Arts Colony, with gallery owners who prefer upscale, art-buying clientele pitted against commercial interests who know that booze joints lure in dollars, especially from people who think art is that stuff you find only in tattoos and on skateboards.  Eventually, booze will win, of course, because that’s capitalism and, these days anyone with a smartphone thinks his app-tinted snaps are art. But take heart, ye tender holdouts of yesteryear, if this weekend’s impressive array of exhibitions is any indication, the galleries seem quite prepared to fight until the last temperamental easel has been battered and broken by a tripped-up inebriate, effectively flipping a glorious abstracted middle finger to the purveyors of boozepuke and their dumbed-down dominions.

There’s no better place to try and escape a cultural Armageddon than a basement, and the subterraneanly located Latino Art Museum’s “Contrapunto” offers both safety and metaphysical bliss. Featuring Latin artists living in and around Atlanta (whose mission it is to expose the people of Georgia to Hispanic diversity, and that means that no matter what, they get a huge “A” for ambition), there’s something incredibly grand about this show. Most notable are the works from Peruvian surrealist and abstract painter Pedro Fuentes, whose acrylic and oil creations inspired by the Inca culture feel like some mystical missing link between the transcendent Cusco spirituality and their tactile engineering feats that remain astounding to this day.  Spanish conquistadors may have melted down all Incan treasures, but those precious golds and silvers from extinct finery, and the bronze and coppers that ushered in both masonry and warfare twist and cycle through Fuentes’ rich, textured canvases, smelting into molten bursts of hot universe where gods plot the reincarnation of kings and sacrifices alike. Pushing further through our mortal realm into the beyond are Dora Lopez’s newsprint and oil cosmoses that offer to take those newly disembodied souls to the furthest reaches of existence where all traces of man are folded back into creation while his greatest achievement, his written words, flutter along the outskirts until they, too, are pulled in and transformed.

"Nude" by Dora Lopez, at LAMOA in Pomona.

“Nude” by Dora Lopez, at LAMOA in Pomona.

Also exalting the godhead in multifarious ways, Futures Collide offers up the abstracts of Father Bill Moore, a body of work that continues to blend man’s quest for place and peace in the universe with that very unpredictable, omnipotent power that seems as troubled over us figuring it all out as a breeze-tilled pond at sunset, and the SCA Project Gallery pulls off an arresting digital print show “NEUNEU” that features a preternatural yet engaging “giant ostrich head (with the body buried in the sand) versus armed soldier” print by Sonny King, a curious series of birds winging their way through tract homes by Sarah Moore, and a set of photosynthetic collages of wildflowers and insects towering over the Joshua Tree desert by Naida Osline that are marvelously keen.

Rounding out the assault on the mindless and mundane, Bunny Gunner joins the good fight with the Zen-like pigments of Larry White. Loosely referred to by the artist as “Cannibal Tao,” the series of 34 Sumi ink on Arches Cover evolved after the woodworking ceramist (who was one of Sam Maloof’s master craftsmen) asked a Buddhist friend during a two-year email conversation why “life eats life,” to which the unofficial guru responded that life is a system of interconnected phenomena that consume each other in order to survive, not one separate entity violently acting upon another, because what destroys and what is destroyed are essentially the same thing. If that sound we just heard was your head exploding, perhaps it should just be said that White’s creations are simple movements of color, unembellished, and totally focused on emotion generated by solitary cobalt rectangles, cresting amber currents, tumbling trails of sienna, and mysterious onyx monoliths.  In short, they’re visions that would give even the most dire atheist cause for concern, which means the next Pomona City Council meeting should probably be held at Bunny Gunner—it’s hard to argue about profits and losses when you have God staring you right in the face.

Latino Art Museum, 281 S. Thomas St #105  Pomona, (909) 620-6009; www.lamoa.net. Bunny Gunner, 266 W. Second St., Pomona, (909) 868-2808; www.bunnygunner.com. SCA Project Gallery, 281 S. Thomas St., Unit 104, Pomona, (909) 620-5481; www.scaprojectgallery.org. 



    Wow great comments on art vs bars! Booze makes the $$$ for the landlord for sure. I still see the arts hanging in there. Of course art openings still serve FREE wine. Which is a Contradiction to too many bars.


      Most galleries serve wine at their opening receptions – not every night, mind you, just the opening. The point is that the more an area is turned into a party zone, ie., more and more bars open up, the more it changes the demographic. If you side with paying the rent, then yes, booze is your product. If you care less about profits and more about aesthetics, then art will be your objective. The less art that is sold (because the clientele is either unable to purchase due to their income level or because they don’t recognize the value in what they’re seeing) the more galleries close and the fewer open up. The region then ceases to be known as an “Art Colony” and is instead a night spot or clubbing area, and people who do not want to club, but prefer to see art, will not venture in. This is the way it works, and there’s certainly nothing illegal or underhanded about it. It’s all about your preference. Really, though, the art up right now is amazing, and that’s the bulk of the piece. Don’t miss it.


    Pomona Rocks! The art rocks, the booze joints rock and so does Stacy Davies!


    Thank you. This is the most intelligent and insightful art commentary I have ever read… and I’ve read at least a zillion. I do hope every downtown Pomona property owner, city official and concerned arts advocate reads your article and looks with an eye to what they are in jeopardy of loosing.


    Thank you! I hope every downtown Pomona property owner reads your article. Your review of the art is inspiring and clearly states what the Pomona Art Colony is in jeopardy of losing…it’s soul.

    Kate Thornton

    What a great article, Stacy! The dA Center for the Arts has its annual Pomona Unified School District Student Show up right now – stop in and see us!

    And Dee is right, although more galleries are limiting the wine and stopping service after nine pm. It really should be about the art.


    It is all about preference…agreed. There is an agenda. Not to just sell art, although is a beautiful feeling to see someone take home something that impacts them. The agenda is also greatly about education. We can’t assume the crowds will understand the value of art. They must be taught. I love when we have the opportunity to walk someone through a new experience in art.

    Thanks Stacie for all you do in bringing light to local art and the significance and life it brings our city.


    Stacey, thank you for all what you do for the community, for our effort to be and show the best art. Wine is a way to said thank you to people walking gallery to gallery, whole night.
    I am very proud of your work and I hope you will continue with us.
    Graciela Horne Nardi

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