Downtown gallery interweaves abstract artists in new show
There must be some magic behind the scenes of 10 West Gallery’s latest show.
The artwork harmonizes across the bright, white storefront. High-contrast abstracts with piercing lines somehow bring out the softness of demure figurative pieces.
10 West is a collaborative gallery, meaning each of its artists has a stake in the gallery’s success, but each contributing artist is also an individual with a distinct style. That’s clear in the latest exhibit, which is on display until May 16.
“The artists that are in 10 West really melt together. As different as each work is, it really melts together,” Karen Zazon, one of the artists in the show, told the News-Press.
The gallery, located at 10 W. Anapamu St. in Santa Barbara, is directed by Jan Ziegler — an artist herself with an eye for contemporary artwork.
Ms. Ziegler has an extensive background curating art, but she doesn’t constrain 10 West’s artists to a theme or a particular style for each show.
“Sometimes I don’t even know what I’m going to get before I get it,” she said. “And so basically, they bring in everything, and I design the show with what they do bring in.”
Oftentimes, artists bring in their latest work, and Ms. Ziegler sorts them by vibrance, texture and subject matter.
“Part of the show is that it has to look good as a show, not just each individual piece though that’s how it’s sold. But we don’t want people when they walk into the gallery to be overwhelmed by too much,” she said.
She centers each piece at eye level and rarely stacks paintings, so each piece has its moment. It feels like a museum, except everything’s for sale, of course.
The current show is united by a feminine energy, a coincidence during National Women’s Month.
A deep-relief painting juts out from the center of the back wall “Considering Eve” by Lisa Crane conveys womanhood. Ms. Ziegler positioned the piece prominently, the crux of an incidentally feminist show.
While the female form has long been a motif in Ms. Crane’s portfolio, Ms. Zazon painted curvy torsos into her repertoire during the lockdown.
“I happened to be in that COVID frame of mind where we’re isolating, and it gave me the opportunity to have fun. So I got out of my head with some figurative work,” she said.
The pandemic filtered out distractions and allowed her to enjoy her time in her studio. She started collaging vintage sheet music and poetry into multi-layered paintings.
Other 10 West artists experimented with new techniques as well.
Pamela Grau began screenprinting and using bright colors.
“All of a sudden, color was brought into my work. I think my work is getting more colorful, and I think I’m in a happier place,” she said. “I think the work is coming from a more playful place.”
Her studio is her favorite place, so isolation has come naturally.
Her aesthetic, apart from her new prints, is meditative. She lives mindfully, and it seeps into her paintings.
Two of her paintings in the show are representative of a deep, meditative mindset.
“Collective Consciousness in a Unified Field” appears to be a collection of oysters with metallic pearls but is actually constructed out of reused take-out cups.
Pat McGinnis also reclaimed materials for his art. He gathered scraps from the destruction of the Ellwood oil plant, sealed the metal and positioned the remnants playfully as sculpture.
The sculptures sit on pedestals in the center of 10 West Gallery, a rustic touch in the stark white environment.
Vibrant paintings with stark lines catch attention as guests wander into the gallery space. Jo Merit, who explores a variety of color palettes, wanted to represent the sunset in her latest work.
The paintings, full of geometric lines, fit the mid-century vibe that first prompted Ms. Merit to start painting.
This is just her third show at 10 West, though she’s collaborated with Ms. Ziegler a long time through the Abstract Art Collective.
“I think she has a really good eye for hanging things,” Ms. Merit said. “She makes sure that everything is displayed at its optimal placement, and she’s really good at playing things off each other. She really has a good eye.”
Although the pandemic has paused Thursday art walks and temporarily closed galleries last spring, 10 West has maintained a customer base.
The gallery’s latest sales have been mostly local, though some Californians on day trips come by looking for unique art.
Ms. Ziegler has remained busy, and she feels fulfilled working with buyers and engaging a community.
“I can’t say enough about Jan as the director,” Ms. Zazon said. “She goes the extra mile to sell our work. It’s such an asset to us as artists.”
Ms. Ziegler said she loves hanging each new show. She gets a rush of excitement each time.
“Each new show feels so fresh and new, so it always feels like the best show ever.”