Design Studio Slashes Conventional Concepts

Hilary Pecis’ work “Up To No Good” is featured in the Slash collage show.

From a graphic design studio tucked into an industrial building on Laguna Canyon Road comes an unlikely pair of art entrepreneurs, trying to tip over tradition when it comes to making, exhibiting and selling art.

For the second time, Carl E. Smith, 35, and his business partner Yuri Psinakis, 44, are converting their design center into an art showcase.

Carl E. Smith Fine Art presents “Slash,” a show comprised exclusively of an international group of collage artists that opens Saturday, Nov. 19, from 6-9 p.m. 2075-2097 #B, Laguna Canyon Road. The collages are up until Dec. 12.

Collage? Isn’t that what Picasso, Braque and Matisse did during the early 20th century, cut out paper shapes to make visual and socio-political statements or just tweak some paper for fun? Yes, except that collage grew from modernists’ creative whim into an art that today’s artist have tailored into their exclusive form of expression.

Ben Venom's The Goat

As the term, derived from the French word “coller” implies, they may glue paper or materials onto flat surfaces, but they also utilize digital media, creating or replicating shapes on computer screens. “Collage has always been around in some form. Over years it has been expanded to include assemblage and hybrids incorporating many media,” said Grace Kook-Anderson, curator of exhibitions at Laguna Art Museum.

As Smith’s exhibition of 34 emerging and established artists shows, the form leaves stunning creative possibilities, as exemplified by Hilary Pecis witty “Up To No Good” and Lola Dupré’s creative repurposing of movie start portraits and found photographs.

Smith, an artist/graphic designer with roots in the action sports industry, incorporates images from fashion magazines or product promotion into abstract compositions reminiscent of posters pasted up in European cities. Not surprising since Smith divides his time between Laguna Beach and Prague in the Czech Republic, where he, for example, staged “Fragments 4,” another international group of emerging artists at the Manes Exhibition Space, or “Sub Kultura,” a survey of photographers and street artists.  (When not in Prague four months out of the year, he and his Czech-born wife Simona live in Laguna. They have a 5-year-old son, Sean.)

James Gallagher's "Can I Say More"

Smith’s travels and Psinakis’ training in photography and new media installations, as well as his experience as an arts and design event organizer, have led to a business model that eliminates the permanence of a gallery, calling instead for alternative venues like offices or warehouses, places not routinely associated with art. The concept allows the partners to interface with more artists than conventional gallerists who, for the most part, represent and promote their artists. Here, they are free agents who can show with the partners and anyone else they choose, minus contracts and demands of exclusivity. Proceeds from sales however are still a 50-50 artist dealer split.

They are also art collectors who buy works by artists they both like and then share by rotating them between their homes/studios. “It’s better than accumulating a lot of works and keeping them in storage. We can both enjoy the works alternately and support young artists in the process,” said Psinakis who has worked as far afield as Los Angeles, Prague and the Philippines. He lives in San Francisco.

At present, they plan to stage shows quarterly rather than monthly as is customary for local galleries. The first show, “Watch What You See,” featured new works by Mike Parillo and opened in May.

You might like to add that to the bottom info.

“I’d rather do something large and exciting four times a year than put on regular routine shows,” said Smith.

949-370-0554  www.cesfineart.com  Showroom hours by appointment only.


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