Movers and Makers
Charles Hollis Jones
Charles Hollis Jones: Fifty Chairs, Fifty Years
Throughout the art world, Charles Hollis Jones is known as the “King of Lucite”, and for good reason—he has continued to redefine the use of acrylic in furniture for over fifty years. Words such as innovative, craftsmanship, luxury, and transformation populate descriptions of Jones’ work, beloved by classic Hollywood icons such as Lucille Ball and Frank Sinatra, in addition to several prominent architects, designers, and collectors.
At the age of sixteen, Jones founded his firm, CHJ Designs. Following his high school graduation two years later, he moved from Bloomington, Indiana to Los Angeles, pursuing his already successful career as a furniture maker. Although Jones is known today for his stunning and buoyant acrylic designs, his earliest pieces were constructed primarily in brass, earning him his first art-world nickname, “The Chrome Kid.” Jones has said that he was initially attracted to acrylic due to its aesthetic similarity to glass and facile manipulation, which allowed him, in some of his earliest artistic endeavors, to reinterpret the Bauhaus designs he admired into a translucent medium.
Lauded for its malleability, plastic has long been utilized in everything from the medical field to the fashion industry, but people do not generally think of it as an artisanal material. In this respect, Jones is unique, a pioneer, and a visionary. In his elegant furniture designs, plastics are elevated from their commercial status into the realm of fine art. Where other makers saw a basic material, he saw a miracle of alchemy, which needed to be respected and understood in order to be utilized to its fullest potential.
While glass merely reflects light, acrylics allow each ray to pass through the material, carrying it in such a way that, when utilized effectively, it appears to be illuminated from within. Fascinated by this transmissivity, Jones quickly became enamored with the alchemical intricacies of acrylics, mastering the material in ways that his predecessors had not. In his skilled hands, the joints marrying multiple planes of Lucite together disappear, while the light that passes through is embraced and amplified, resulting in an unequivocal oeuvre of design.
Charles Hollis Jones has received many awards for his craftsmanship and has been recognized by the Smithsonian Institute for his pioneering use of Lucite. In 1971, the German government presented Jones with a Brilliance of Design award for his Edison lamp, while the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors gave him an award for his Metric Line tables in 1976. In 1992, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation honored the artist with the Carl Beam Sculpture Award, recognizing his volunteer work on behalf of the American Society of Interior Designers. The Pacific Design Center awarded Jones with the 2004 Product Designer of the Year Award, recognizing his lifetime of achievements. In 2007, Design Within Reach hosted a retrospective of his work at its flagship locations in Los Angeles and Beverly Hills. Jones’ work has also been published in numerous magazines, such as Architectural Digest, Desert Living, Designers West, Elements, Hollywood Life, Home and Garden, Modern Magazine, The Los Angeles Times, and The New York Times.
Chris Francis: Versatility--A Five Year Survey
Chris Francis is a self-taught shoemaker and designer whose life experiences are often reflected in his art. He spent most of his young adult life traveling throughout the United States on freight trains, working on ships, and in carnivals, theater houses, and cabarets. Francis’ eclectic personal story is infused into a collection of work that is as diverse as the artist’s job history—he has hung from skyscrapers, worked as a chimney sweep and even found employment as a tree topper.
Inspired by everything from the punk movement to architecture, industrial design and the Bauhaus, characteristics of Francis’ work often include bold color, a strong silhouette, sharp lines and simplicity. Each piece is created in-house, allowing for the artist to maintain complete control over the design process. He often works with found materials, which are experimental and alternative to traditional shoemaking.
In keeping with the spirit of experimentation, many of the pieces in this collection were inspired by the Bauhaus School of Art and Design in Germany, made famous in the early twentieth century for combining craft and engineering with a variety of fine art mediums, including sculpture, painting, and architecture. Francis has stated that he operates his own workshop under many of the same principles that drove the Bauhaus movement, seeking to fuse fine art, architecture, fashion, and design into one act, thus creating shoes that are both beautiful and functional, as all of the artistic disciplines invoked are valued as equals.
Francis’ designs are worn regularly by celebrities and musicians, and have been featured in publications such as Vogue, Metropolis, and Ornament. He has exhibited in several museums, including Palm Springs Art Museum, Architecture and Design Museum, and a solo exhibition at the Craft & Folk Art Museum in Los Angeles. He was also invited to exhibit as an artist at FN PLATFORM in Las Vegas, wherein he moved his entire workshop into the venue to act as a display.
David B. Jang: Deflection Production
Both an artist and an inventor, David B. Jang is known for his imaginative kinetic installations, which employ hacked consumer electronics and subverted household appliances. These vestiges of technology, with their life’s instructions literally coded into their motherboards, are the building blocks of Jang’s practice. By deconstructing, re-programming, and reconstituting industrial and commercial castoffs, Jang creates immersive works that are, as described by art critic Peter Frank, “at once hilarious, frightening, charming, and strangely reassuring.”
Ultimately, Jang’s work is about survival, or what he refers to as “life tactics.” His installations explore the short life expectancy of cast-off materials and their relationship to organic mortality. Rooted in a playful critique of capitalism combined with a thirst for novelty, Jang shifts attention away from the product, toward process and consumer. If property ownership is a pathway to the “American Dream,” Jang’s intention is to subvert, dissect, comprehend, and redirect property to verify its potential and truth, or expose its lie. His work is engaging and subtly provocative, confronting viewers with their complacent habit of experiencing the environment indirectly, through a version of the world that humans have contrived. In Jang’s work, viewers must first lose themselves to find themselves. Through his ongoing investigations, the artist undertakes a documentation of the industrial era, not by representation, but by reusing and reworking existing technologies, and through them, exposing their inherent human and fallible elements.
David B. Jang has exhibited both nationally and internationally at several museums and galleries, including: the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Laguna Art Museum; Nagasaki Museum of Fine Art, Japan; Paju Kyoha Art Center, Korea; Shone-show Gallery, China; Heritage Art Center, Philippines; Locust Projects, Miami; AAF, Germany, the Netherlands, and Canada. He has been featured in several publications, such as Miami New Times, Wall Street International, Huffington Post Arts, Art Ltd., Korean American Magazine, ARTPULSE, Artillery, KCET Artbound, Coagula Art Journal, California Contemporary Art Magazine, and Art Week LA.
Lisa Schulte: Full Circle
Transfixed by the act of bending and shaping light through mixing different gases, glasses, and fluorescents in her studio, Lisa Schulte says that she sees everything in neon. “My love for ‘light’ started in my late teens,” the artist states. “I had a friend who was a DJ at a disco. I was underage, so I would get in under the guise of ‘working the lights.’ I loved it! I discovered neon lights in the early 80s and never veered from that peculiar source.” Self-taught, Schulte’s work combines her experience in the film and television industry with her love of fine art. For the past thirty years, she has owned and operated Nights of Neon, a full-service fabrication studio, while also focusing on her own art practice, which, until recently, has marked a divergence from the artist’s commercial neon work.
For several years, Schulte’s sculptural works consisted solely of different temperatures of white light, woven throughout amorphous pieces of dried wood, while the custom signage that she produced for Nights of Neon utilized traditional applications of the medium—bright signs and colorful lights. The former comprise the artist’s Essence of Time series, a group of meditative and painstakingly crafted sculptures imbued with symbolism, meant to transcend the infinite changes of the natural landscape and the journey of the human experience. Recently, however, Schulte’s work has been reinvigorated as she returned to the origins of her practice, producing a body of sculptures that are more free-form in spirit and alive with the full spectrum of color. Somewhat frustrated and seeking to propel her practice in a new direction, Schulte says that she began making random piles of the colorful neon words that she had created in her studio. This intuitive, action-based approach fostered the series of sculptures currently on display, which mark both a divergence from and return to the artist’s original practice.
“Neon is a unique and remarkable medium,” Schulte states, “It does not operate at a 2D or even 3D level. It is multi-dimensional luminescence; it is light extracted from air—and manifested into form.”
Lisa Schulte has shown her work at several museums and galleries, including: the Museum of Neon Art, Glendale; Scion Gallery, Culver City; Butterfield’s on Sunset Blvd.; Broadway Art Space, Santa Monica; Joanne Artman Gallery, Santa Monica; Rebel Ark Studio, Hollywood; Hinge Modern Gallery, Culver City; Fabian Castanier Gallery in collaboration with graffiti artist Risk, Studio City; Art Project Paia, Maui. She was also commissioned by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) to create a sculpture based on Diane von Furstenberg’s handwriting for the museum’s Feel Like a Woman exhibit.
Lori Cozen-Geller: The Edge
In her practice, Lori Cozen-Geller looks to capture the emotions of the heart and mind. This process is kinetic, beginning with a feeling that evolves into a powerful emotion which is then transformed into art. By freezing these emotions and translating them into concrete form, Geller is able to visualize the strength and meaning that lies within the created piece, the artist’s passion manifested as art. The feelings themselves dictate the specifics of each piece, such as color and finish, which represent the power of the emotion that each work is born out of. Other details, such as the decision to use sharp angles or soft curves, are informed by the nature of the emotions represented.
The Edge represents a visual culmination of the moment when a split decision is about to be made, which will forever alter one’s fate. A barrage of emotions fuses together to spark the end result: the decision. The scale of each cube along with its finish represents the power of the decision at hand. “Although my art is an expression of my own personal feelings, these emotions are universal to all mankind,” Geller states, “Human beings share the same emotional palette even though each of us has a differing set of life circumstances. The energy of life is the fuel that ignites my passion to express.”
Lori Cozen-Geller has shown her work at several museums and galleries, both nationally and internationally, including: Madison Gallery, La Jolla, Russeck Gallery, San Francisco, BGH Gallery, Bergamot Station, George Billis Gallery, New York, Phoenix Art Museum, Fellini Gallery, Berlin, The Santa Monica Museum of Art, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.
Sedi Pak: A Moment in Time
From very early on in my life I have observed nature closely—the shape of a tree, the shape of a leaf, the veins on that leaf, how it all comes together—nature at its most basic form. I study the light, texture and patterns of organic life. I find a rhythm in nature and strive to replicate it in my art. I am fascinated by the harmony and disharmony between man and nature. I draw most of my inspiration from this, how our actions impact our future. What we do sets off a chain of events, hard to predict or control.
A contemporary painter and sculptor, Sedi Pak has spent a lifetime developing her personal approach to the visual arts. After painting professionally for eighteen years the artist began to explore three-dimensional mediums. This led to the creation of her recent body of work, comprised of environmental installations and sculptures that capture the visceral dimensionality of the natural world. Though seemingly frozen in space, Pak’s large-scale wooden sculptures evoke movement and appear to defy gravity as their carved, spiraling curves illustrate the science of nature and its continual transformation, a moment in time memorialized like the rings in a tree: silent, but present.
Sedi Pak has shown her work in museums and galleries both nationally and internationally, including: Galerie Metanoia, Paris; Galerie 825, Los Angeles; MB Abram Galleries, Los Angeles. She participated as an exhibiting artist for Project Heart: Uganda’s annual Fundraising multimedia Art Benefit from 2010 to 2013 and has been featured on Huffington Post’s Arts and Culture page.
Terry Cervantes: Lunatopia
Terry Cervantes combines her skills as a production potter with her talent as a visual artist, creating pieces that are at once beautiful, whimsical, and often functional. She draws inspiration from Asian and Native American storytelling, surrealism, and the natural world. In regards to her creative drive, the artist states, “I fulfill my desire to paint with my need to play in clay.”
The pieces that comprise Lunatopia are inspired by images from a surrealist fantasy of Cervantes’ imagination. Relating her story, the artist writes:
Somewhere in the universe, in a different dimension, there is a world where only a moon illuminates the sky…The many faces of the moon govern this magical world. It isn’t based on time, but rather emotions and feelings of mad devilry, happiness, glee, pain, and sorrow. The moon and the eyes of this world have an affinity for each other—as the moon’s face changes its demeanor from young to old, and from male to female, the eyes look up in wonder, sorrow, surprise, and awe.
Nature glows like bleached bones, insects scurry in the moonlight, and all are attracted to the vibrations of the light. Things become amiss: fish grow feet and run and dance with skeletons in the radiance of perpetual night. Teapots come to life and hop along with moonlit, furry foxes. And if you look closely, you can see that the Alligator and Platypus have finally taken the plunge into marriage. Who would have thought!
This is the world that Cervantes dreams of as she creates. As a conduit for stories that seem to have emerged from times past, the artist believes that it is her duty to bring these parables to life, so that people may learn of the illuminated world, Lunatopia.
Terry Cervantes is a local artist who has spent several years serving her community as a visual arts teacher and has exhibited throughout Southern California. She has won first place and Best in Show at the Antelope Valley Fair in 1984. Her work has also been featured in Rothko Art Magazine.