Art, design, and architecture at JoAnne Artman Galleries 

By James Reed

One of the countless pleasures put on hold by the pandemic is the aesthetic and intellectual thrill of viewing art in person. Museums are off-limits, galleries are shuttered or open by appointment only, and art walks are on ice. While architecturally significant outdoor spaces, sculpture gardens, and public plazas thankfully remain largely accessible, the social, intellectual, and aesthetic aspects of appreciating art in-person and indoors is sorely missed.

As we spend more time in our personal spaces, the importance of art in the home is perhaps more valued than ever. Gallery owners have pivoted to online exhibitions and socially distant sales, with encouraging results reported. 

In an encouraging move in a difficult economy, JoAnne Artman Gallery has increased its gallery space in North Laguna’s Gallery Row, now offering two locations. Mary Finlayson and Michael Callas are among the many artists on display in the two galleries. Both artists have paintings focused on architecture and design in their oeuvres. 

Art of and about homes seems appropriate to celebrate as we spend so much time in ours. Still, it’s the eye-catching, joyful color of these paintings that speaks to us in this challenging time. 

Michael Callas grew up in Orange County. He says the combination of the area’s natural beauty with its planned communities and highly curated environments has had a heavy influence on his artistic process. Callas’ paintings are done entirely with spray paint and stencils. Rooted in Pop Art, Street Art, graphic design, drafting, and his life in Southern California, Callas combines text, character archetypes, and bold color within each work. He studied architecture before pursuing art full-time, which is evident from his series of paintings titled Case Study (Southern California Modern). Made between 2011 and 2014, the Case Study work depicts a familiar world of modern design steeped in a kaleidoscope of color. It is a combination of cultural references that Callas  considers “archetypes of an American dream,” offered up by the visionary architects of the Case Study housing project.

Mary Finlayson is a San Francisco-based artist originally from Vancouver, B.C. Finlayson’s interest in painting interior spaces portrays how environments reveal identity. Rendered with vivid color and an emphasis on texture, Finlayson creates spaces that are partly real and partly imagined. Considering interiors as portraits that contain their own narratives, her compositions explore the stories that each space tells about the people who inhabit them. Flattening the perspective of each scene, her still lifes provide a voyeuristic glimpse into each curated space. 

Najavo Weaving and Bird, 2020, by Mary Finlayson
Pink Room with Baldessari and Girard Figures, 2020, by Mary Finlayson

JoAnne Artman Gallery
326 and 346 North Coast Highway
Laguna Beach

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