By: Scott Smith and Sandra Wells

In Cool Things to Do Part 3, we covered Artplex Gallery and its sister across the street Artspace Warehouse on Beverly Blvd. near La Brea in Los Angeles. In April, we decided to revisit the Southern California art scene as more galleries began reopening. COVID has caused most (that survived) to have very limited or by-appointment-only hours over the past year, so if you want to visit one, be sure to call, no matter what their website says (as we learned when we took what was listed there as current). We also want to let artists know about some of the best local art suppliers.

Elena Bulatova Fine Art has galleries in Laguna Beach, Palm Desert, and Palm Springs. Walking into the Laguna store, we were wowed by the variety of edgy and visionary contemporary paintings and mixed media. We were especially impressed with the incredible robots and fantasy creatures by Mr. Santo of Thailand (that’s how he is known), whose metal sculptures are made of everything from chains to gears (the robots are priced from $5,000 to $25,000, the largest called the Predator, is at least 6 feet tall). The galleries are owned by Bulatova, who is an award-winning artist known for her abstracts, pop, and mixed media paintings and sculptures. Consultant Madison Martinez was very helpful in explaining each artist’s work.

Dawson Cole Fine Art has galleries in Laguna Beach and Palm Desert that have very striking bronze sculptures of bodies in motion outside and inside, many by the president Richard MacDonald, Jr. Each looked like he or she is in a state of ecstasy. Prices we saw ranged from $1,725 to $68,500. There is also a variety of work from American and European masters in the Contemporary, Early Modern and West Coast Regionalism categories, such as Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse.

Corey Helford Gallery in the gritty industrial East L.A. neighborhood of Boyle Heights is a pearl magnificent in its simplicity. When we walked in, we discovered an artistic oasis that took our breath away, with an emphasis on Pop Surrealism, Street Art, Post-Graffiti, and other cutting-edge styles. There were seven artists of great talent featured in large rooms of uncluttered white walls with smallish original paintings 12″x12″ to 49″x33.5″, ranging in price from $800 to $8,800, so affordable for a wide audience. We were especially impressed with the work of Rodolfo Loaiza, which provided an amusing and twisted vision of Disney characters, and Zoe Byland, whose black-and-white fantasy women are “partially disguised to keep their secrets, so the viewer’s imagination has room to think up their narrative ideas and meanings,” in her words.

Bergamot Station in Santa Monica has a quite varied group of galleries that are mostly open, especially Thu.-Sun. Our favorite has long been the Lois Lambert Gallery + Functional Art Gallery, which features an extraordinarily diverse group of artists who create mini-masterpieces in ceramics (a china plate by Damien Hirst “I am become death, shatterer of worlds”), recycled metal (tiny cars), wood, stone, cardboard, glass, and other materials. The exhibits when we visited included the moving sculptures (like a globe in a frying pan) by Jim Jenkins and the humorous oil animals and people in oil pastels and acrylic of Daveed Schwartz.

Be sure to visit the nonprofit Building Bridges Art Exchange next door, which featured Christian Castro’s imaginative use of technology and recycled materials to create active sculptures like a former Volkswagen turned into a 1,000-lb. crab.

Blick Art Materials is a family-owned retail and catalog art supply business, which was established in 1911. We visited the Beverly Blvd. location in Los Angeles near Fairfax and it has stores in West L.A., Santa Monica, Pasadena, Fullerton, and San Diego. Blick has so thrived in this COVID age they have emerged as the Rocky-like champion of art supplies for those who want to shop at a physical store and become inspired with a large selection of new and exciting products. They have well-informed employees who are mostly working artists and know all the technical details you want. Each store does framing, has a huge inventory of a wide variety of supplies, and their website is even more abundant. They also have super-sales at certain times of the year and so be sure to sign-up for their emailed coupons. If you love being in the flow of creating art, when you enter Blick Art Materials you will feel you have come home.

Graphaids has art supply stores in Culver City, Agoura Hills, on the OTIS college campus in Westchester (open to the public). What makes Graphaids so distinctive is its professional level of fine-art photography and scanning, as well as printing, stretching, mounting, and framing. They have a huge selection of professional-grade materials, such as brushes from the tiniest for minute details to the biggest for painting large canvases, all of very high quality. They carry the full line of Epson paper to produce the highest-level of finished prints. The staff is very knowledgeable. Look for the colorful murals on the outside (as well as inside) of their stores.