We asked these established O.C.-based artists who’s piquing their interest.
He designed the interiors for Becker Surfboard shops up and down the coast, and his distinctive paintings created an iconic brand image. Yet, Brian Bent considers himself more a surfer than an artist. Which is why he appreciates the work of Tyler Warren: “He has this ability to capture the intangible art form of surfing and make it a tangible thing through his art.”
She finds inspiration in the marine environment and urban landscapes, and creates stunning visuals through a variety of media—photography, woodworking and painting. So it stands to reason that Chantal deFelice would be captivated by E.E. Jacks: “I’m especially enamored by her nighttime swimming pool scenes. The way she portrays the translucency and viscosity of the water... amazes me.”
James Verbicky’s large-scale mixed media works draw upon today’s culture and make a bold statement about life in an age when information is consumed at a rapid pace, so it’s understandable that the bold, distinctive artwork of Justin Bower would strike a chord: “His portraits are truly original. ... His color and painting technique are right up there with Marilyn Minter’s work.”
In the Open
His concept was born out of a Vietnamese myth, re-envisioned to address the tragedy of war, and will soon stand as a cultural emblem. Yes, when James Dinh’s Of Two Lineages monument is unveiled at Westminster’s Asian Garden Mall in May, it will “enrich” the Little Saigon area and community. “I’ve always had an interest in Little Saigon from an urban design point of view,” says the multidisciplinary designer, whose piece was chosen for the Courage to Rebuild program honoring the 40th anniversary of Vietnamese migration to the United States. (Dinh’s family left Saigon in 1975.) The space is multilayered and experiential, with an 18-foot totem made of 100 steel panels and lit by colored LEDs, and a plaza with two benches bearing the faces of 100 individuals. “When people sit, their faces join [in]. It’s their shared humanity.”
Photographer and moto enthusiast Eddie Lee has always been on the move—from his youth spent skateboarding to his 20-year career in action sports (he started snapping pics of snowboarders as a hobby while working at O.C.’s Sole Technology) to his just-released passion project, Timeless American – A Selection of Pre-1916 Motorcycles ($126). He envisioned the coffee-table book 10 years ago, when he realized a close friend’s collection was becoming quite significant. “I [wanted to] document as many as I could,” says the self-taught lensman, who left his job in 2014 to travel down that path. He invested $18,000 in equipment, staged each bike at the location it was kept and built on-site studios to create clean shots. (He launched his Costa Mesa photo biz, Iron Vault Studio, too.) Some days, he’d shoot one bike, other times up to three. “I did this mostly on my own, [so] there were days when my body was sore from lifting the bikes.” But his wheels kept turning, and the result is 264 pages of rides—like a punchy 1911 Flanders single-speed and a well-worn 1913 Henderson four-cylinder. “There are stories behind not only the bikes I’ve shot, but also those on the road today.” Speaking of, Lee rides a 2006 Buell Firebolt XB12R.
James Dinh photo by Cameron Gardner
Jamie Brooks doesn’t shy away from bold works that veer toward the gritty, while Kelsey Irvin’s artwork displays a calming, ethereal quality. Here, we compare Brooks’ veteran views as a gallerist with Irvin’s fresh take as a working artist.
What’s the best thing about O.C.’s art scene?
JAMIE BROOKS: That we’re in a period of expansion. The tipping point is imminent.
KELSEY IRVIN: We’ve noticed a movement of new collectors—not only collectors of established and midcareer artists, but also collectors of blue chip art. I think this is fantastic.
Where do you think the most exciting creativity can be found?
JB: Santa Ana is the current epicenter for creativity. The transformation of the city is entirely due to the commitment of the city, Cal State Fullerton and individuals to embrace, support and prioritize art. In doing so, art has revived the downtown, displaced neglect and created a vibrant community.
KI: I’m excited by the creativity from young people. Artwork created by kids is raw and authentic. I love seeing what comes out of them before they’ve been too impacted by the world. I notice this most often at Anneliese Schools, where they exhibit artwork by children on a regular basis.
And how do you see O.C.’s art scene evolving over the next 10 years?
JB: The relocation of the Orange County Museum of Art to its new location at Segerstrom Center will give national prominence to the museum and an invaluable resource to the community.
KI: I expect to see new media, especially digital forms, evolving. I do hope, however, that as modern times bring modern forms of creating, traditional forms—what we consider contemporary—will remain as important as ever.
Jamie Brooks photo by John Gilhooley; Kelsey Irvin photo by Benjamin Koppin