CPP’s Kellogg gallery highlights LA-based female artists

By Kristine Pascual, Feb. 06, 2023

The W. Keith and Janet Kellogg University Art Gallery welcomed the new exhibition “Above & Below: Views from AltaSea’s Blue Hour” Jan. 22.

Guest curator Kim Abeles partnered with Michele Cairella Fillmore, curator of the W. Keith and Janet Kellogg University Art Gallery to bring students a curated selection of art ranging from paintings to ceramic sculptures from the original venue at AltaSea.

The exhibition features work from Amabelle Aguiluz, Isabel Beavers, Barbara Benish, Patsy Cox, Danielle Eubank, Katherine Gray, Cynthia Minet, Ann Phong, Barbara Thomason and Minoosh Zomorodinia. Their work touches on a multitude of themes including pollution, life underwater, immigration and awareness.

A portion of “Urban Rebutia” by Patsy Cox featuring 50,000 elements in a matter of 10 years. | Kristine Pascual

Beavers’ primary color piece, “What is 500 million years to a shark tooth?” was crafted from stained glass, wood and fishing line. Minet’s found objects from Rio Grande borderlands and programmable LEDs to light up the birds in “Migrations: Spoonbills 4, 5 and 6.”

AltaSea is an ocean research institution, focusing on regenerative aquaculture, renewable energy, blue technology and underwater robotics. In 2022, AltaSea invited Abeles to curate an exhibition for their annual fundraiser, “Blue Hour,” which focuses on youth and community. Abeles is a visual artist who gained fame for her series “Smog Collectors.” Friends for over 30 years, Abeles and Cairella Fillmore worked together to craft a new rendition of “Above & Below: Views from AltaSea’s Blue Hour.”

“AltaSea is dedicated to accelerating scientific collaboration, advancing an emerging blue economy through business, innovation, job creation and inspiring the next generation for a more sustainable, just and equitable world,” Fillmore said. “The neat thing is we’re doing it through art.”

“Shipwrecked” by Katherine Gray using glass and found object. | Kristine Pascual

The original location at the Port of Los Angeles is around 20,000 square feet and one challenge the curators faced was choosing which pieces would look best at CPP’s 4,000 square foot gallery. Abeles and Fillmore carefully picked piece by piece to ensure they all shined together as well as individually.

“I felt like we had put everything into a jewelry box,” Abeles said. “The whole show was very emotional for me because I really wanted all the artists to shine.”

Abeles is a respected artist who is most known for her “Smog Collectors” series. Her work is featured in public collections at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Berkeley Art Museum, Brooklyn Museum and more. Abeles admitted wanting artists to stand out so she refrained from incorporating her own work into the gallery.

The exhibition spotlights 10 LA-based female artists offering a vibrant selection from the original venue with the artists specifically chosen to honor women’s month in March.

The collection of art features a diverse range of paintings, sculptures, glass, upcycled materials and ceramics.

“What is 500 million years to a shark tooth?” by Isabel Beavers. | Kristine Pascual

Of the 10 featured, several artists also work as faculty members at other California State University campuses. Another artist, Thomason once taught at CPP for 22 years and is now retired. Cox works at the art department of Fillmore’s alma mater, CSU Fullerton. CPP’s Phong is featured in the show and has taught in the art department for the last 27 years.

“Everybody has a different choice,” Phong said. “Like writers, they have their own vocabulary. As an artist, I have color as my vocabulary. The color comes with my mood when I create.”

Phong draws inspiration from her immigration journey on a boat across oceans from Vietnam to America. Each place she has lived has provided her with memories of culture and lifestyle which she integrates into her work through vibrant color and intense backstory of hardships she faced as a woman.

“I wasn’t born in America,” Phong said. “I was born in Vietnam and I escaped Vietnamese communism to come to America. I crossed the whole Pacific Ocean from Vietnam to America. Water saved my life, gave me a second chance to live again. That’s how I see it because that’s what I came from.”

Ann Phong’s interactive piece, “Fragility” invites attendees to place a magnet on the painting. | Kristine Pascual

In Phong’s painting, “Fragility,” she visually shows her difficult journey across the Pacific Ocean. The painting is interactive and invites visitors to place a magnet anywhere on the painting.

“If people put a magnet somewhere where the metal is far away from it, the magnet would drop down to the floor just like people vanished on earth, they dropped into the ocean,” Phong said. “So, when people play with it they can feel how fragile human life is.”

The exhibition is open from Jan. 22 to March 21. Students are welcome to attend the artist reception Feb. 3 and the campus reception March 5 in honor of Women’s Month and International Women’s Day.

Amabelle Aguiluz’s “Exposure” crafted out of wool and dyed with indigo. | Kristine Pascual

Feature image courtesy of Kristine Pascual 

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