Porch Gallery Ojai and VICA (Venice Institute of Venice) present a vital and pertinent exhibition titled “Water Works II.” I attended the opening on May 9. It’s been years since I’ve been to Ojai. What a beautiful place and the gallery was so nice. The opening reception attracted many Los Angeles residents who stayed for the weekend. The juried group exhibit is a follow-up exhibition to “Water Works,” which also opened at Porch Gallery Ojai.

See my Huffington Post article about “Water Works II.”

VICA DirectMay2-sm-WaterworksII-tophalf-inviteor Juri Koll was originally inspired to organize “Water Works I” due to his love of watercolors. “I had been invited by several galleries to present my work, and when I brought my portfolio, they often said ‘I love these, but have you considered working with oil on canvas?’ My answer was ‘Yes, and I have worked in that medium, but these are my works, and I have chosen this medium because it works for me.'” It was then that Koll decided to set out and find like-minded artists. Now here we are at the onset of “Water Works II,” and the journey continues.

As an art writer, I spend most of my days writing about exhibitions, artists, galleries, and curators. Although I have never been to Porch Gallery Ojai or met Heather Stobo and Lisa Carsoni (co-directors), it’s been a pleasure to learn more about the gallery and how well respected both the venue and these two gallerists are.

“ISat-May9-GaySummerRick Winter-II-OilonCanvas 6x6in KL first visited Porch Gallery last year for the opening of the original ‘Water Works’ exhibition,” explained Gay Summer Rick. “The gallery is in a beautiful old home with a lovely front porch. What were once living spaces are now spaces alive with art and the incredible warmth of the gallery owners, Heather and Lisa. The exhibitions flow from room to room, with enough space to enjoy each piece of work. I have been there on a Sunday morning – perfect time for viewing art, coffee in hand, and then taking a seat on the front porch to discuss what you’ve just experienced.” http://gaysummerrick.com/

See image: Summer Gay Rick, “Winter II”, 6×6 inches, Oil on Canvas, Palette Knife Painting

I happen to be a friend of Juri. I’ve also interviewed him and written about his work. He even plays blues harp in one of my bands. So I personally know what a great guy he is…its just nice to hear other people share the sentiment.

J.J. L’Heureux, whose work will be featured in the show, commented, “Juri is an artist that wears many hats. He has endless energy to make his paintings, films, video and edit talks, attend his artist friends’ receptions, write, and curate!” Gay said that she has seen a couple of exhibitions curated by Juri, and she thought he did a great job of pulling together an eclectic group of work around a theme. “I think that Juri is inspiring in his ability to envision a project and then make it happen,” added Gay.

Like myself, J.J. has not yet had the chance to visit the Porch Gallery Ojai but said, “People have mentioned the Porch Gallery to me after spending time in Ojai saying they enjoyed the art being shown plus the friendly greeting when they entered.”

SMay9JJ-LOWRES-JJ2ee image: Bergy Bit 9, 12” x 16”  oil on canvas

L’Heureux’s contribution to the group show features a work from her Bergy Bit series, which was inspired by her many trips to Antarctica. This accomplished artist and photographer is a disciplined artist. She has traveled to the Southern Sea, Antarctica, Artic, Russian Far East, and up to Wrangel Island on over fourteen expeditions. She has trekked across treacherous terrain all for the sake of her art, and she has witnessed firsthand the effects our climate change has had on our planet. For more info about J.J. L’Heureux, be sure to visit both her websites. http://www.jjlheureux.com/  http://www.penguinspirit.com

Gay said she knew many of the artists in the exhibition. “I’m thrilled about that! I have seen a couple of the pieces that will be included in the show. Catherine Ruane is one of the artists who has work in the exhibition. She draws the most exquisite images of rivers, palms, cactus and other elements in the natural environment. When I see her black and white images, I just have to spend some time with them. They are quite amazing. Another artist in the show is Diane Cockerill. She is an amazing photographer. She captures the beauty in what others may not immediately see as ‘beautiful.’ Her images are thought-provoking, and like Catherine’s work, I want to spend some time with them.” http://gaysummerrick.com/

I also know many of the artists that are participating in “Water Works II” and have had the chance to work with another talented artist, Karrie Ross. I am quite fond of her work. For this exhibition, Karrie will be showing a work titled “Transcendence: Moon/Sun Connection.”

May9-Porch-WaterWorksII-karrie-ross-water-moon-sun-30x22aSee image: Karrie Ross, “Transcendence: Moon/Sun Connection,” 22″x30″; medium: ink, gold leaf, acrylic, watercolor, oil, collage on arches paper; 2015

Here’s what Karrie has to say about her inspiration for this piece. “Transcendence: More than what we see or know. The ability to go beyond what is known to what is unknown at the moment of inquiry. The Sun/Moon connection with water is an ancient belief. Water is life, and in that life we have choices, which bring a safety of control. The hand, coming up from the water holding the thread that not only connects and binds, but can unravel any connection at any time it chooses, is of precious gold. It is a symbol to be attended to and cherished. Within the energy surrounding us, exampled with line and paint, our power of growth begins a journey… to transcend the here — to the now.” http://karrieross.com/

In addition, there will be three commissioned sculptures which will be installed at various locations throughout Ojai – such as farms and ranches – that have experienced the devastating drought that is taking place all over California right now. There will be tours offered to view the sculptures and learn about the issue from the community. Visit the website to see the full list of fifty-four artists.

At 4pm, (prior to the reception), there will be an artist talk moderated by Koll next door to the gallery at Modern Folk Living. The Porch Gallery Ojai has invited Liam Carpenter-Urquhart, a senior from the Thacher School in Ojai, to present a poem about water.

On view: May 2 – June 8

What: Opening reception
Where: Porch Gallery Ojai, 310 E Matilija St, Ojai, CA 93023
When: May 9th – 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm; Art Talk starts at 4pm (next door at Modern Folk Living)

Phone: (805) 620-7589
Website: http://porchgalleryojai.com/