Gallery Row’s New Occupant Brings an Edge


            “On the Edge: Statements in Black and White” is the title of the inaugural exhibition that marks the opening of the S Cube Gallery, a venue for contemporary art that replaces the former Rohrer Gallery that specialized, for the most part, in traditional art and antiques.

In keeping with her goal to feature the best of Southern California and international contemporary art, Sanja Simidzija takes the concept of cutting edge a step further than she currently does at Art Cube, her smaller gallery on Forest Avenue, while still remaining within the boundaries of viewers comprehension. Elegance and skill prevails throughout an intelligently curated mix of representational, conceptual and abstract art or intriguing mixes of all of the above. What sets this show apart is evidence of the artists being as eager to experiment with new art forms juxtaposed with  established ones as the gallerist is to show them.

Curatorially speaking, Simidzija has long mastered the art of creating visual suspense by creating environments tailored to individual exhibitions or even works. Here, the artists may all be, with some exceptions, be generationally close but that is where similarities end. While Nico Baumgartner has found beauty in scarred bullet-proof glass, Phil Kim created works evocative of tattoos. Yet, they play well to each other, a result perhaps of Simidzija stipulating that nearly all works (there are exceptions such as Henrik Uldalen’s untitled figure) be either black or white or combinations of both.

Credit also belongs to S Gallery director Jared Linge, a Laguna College of Art and Design graduate with a keen eye for emerging talent comprised, for the most part, of advanced LCAD students or alumni such as James Miller, Orion Fisher, Phil Kim and Shay Bredimus.  Here, the LCAD group once again demonstrates the success of the school’s mission to instill solid formal art making skills into its students so that they may be free to expand their repertoire and experiment at will.

Miller, for example, is a relative veteran, having been shown, along with Fisher, in the former Tosti Studios Gallery, in several group shows and at last year’s OsCene exhibition at the Laguna Art Museum. “Love Songs” is a painting that evidences his ability to create mysterious narratives. “I am still working in somewhat traditional form but also use collage and create impressions of dioramas, small spaces filled with combination of styles I used as a student,” he said.

Norman Mooney’s “Wallflower” by contrast is a relief sculpture composed of pleated galvanized aluminum. Distinguished by its stark linearity and interplay of light and shadow, the work is elegantly compelling, playing well to Anuar Maaud’s “Estrella.”

Simidzija and Linge have cooperated with the ECOH Galleria in Mexico City in assembling an international group of artists. Mooney, for example, is Irish; Maura Falfan lives in Mexico; Nino Baumgartner (“Broken Glass”) was born in Bern, Switzerland; and Cora Cole (“Eclypse”) is Canadian. Also featured is a sculpture by Laguna Beach’s Cheryl Ekstrom (“Misplaced Heart”) and a black, Ad Reinhardt reminiscent of painting by her late husband Denny. (“The Last Painting Anyone Can Paint”)

“Jared and I curated the show to speak from the edge, to push boundaries and to create an international platform for artists and collectors,” said Simidzija. “We are in a space now where we can stage more adventurous and more demanding shows.”

The show will open with a 8 p.m. reception on Saturday, Nov. 12. S Cube is located on 346 N. Coast Highway.




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