Now more than ever, the dialogue of the day play out through the visual arts. Here, the artists who lead the cultural conversation and ask the important questions that push us all forward.
Shantell Martin’s work in The May Room, as part of her 2019 series on Governors Island. Photo by Timothy Schenck
L.A.-based artist Jennifer Guidi
Filled with news alerts and notification pings on repeat, today’s world is fastmoving and frenzied—but Jennifer Guidi’s processdriven contemplative work gives us a reason to pause. “I first saw her work in an exhibition at LAXART in 2014, and it was showstopping,” says Mike Homer, partner at David Kordansky Gallery. “It was really interesting to experience the vibration and calmness in the room where her work was being shown.” Guidi’s disciplined process is directly connected to the peaceful feelings her pieces evoke. Starting with an underpainting, she adds a thick layer of sand onto the surface. Then, while it is still wet, she uses a wooden dowel to make repetitive marks, adding more paint and sand on the edges of those divots. “Jennifer’s art is a contemporaneous vision of this very long tradition of rendering landscape or the feeling of being in a landscape, but through the lenses of abstraction and the mandala. In her work, you see the threads that connect her to a lineage of painters like Agnes Martin and Georgia O’Keeffe,” says Homer, who also highlights Guidi’s expressive use of color. “You see the chroma that is found in Southern California landscape, but also in its culture, like the hot pink that you might find in an L.A. sunset and in a Body Glove surfboard,” he says. Her current show at David Kordansky Gallery Los Angeles introduces painted bronze sculptures to her repertoire, and also builds upon her methodology. “She had the idea to paint the ridges of the indentations that she makes in surfaces of her paintings,” Homer explains. “This seemingly small, added element to her process created a whole new level to the depth of her work. It also added new levels of color and dimensionality to the paintings; it was like a flower blooming.”
Artist Jennifer Guidi works with a variety of mediums, including sand, acrylic paint, gouache and more for her meditative works. Her show In the Heart of the Sun runs Nov. 5 to Dec. 17 at David Kordansky Gallery Los Angeles, and features paintings, works on paper and sculpture. Pictured: "THE VARIOUS PLANES ON BEING AND LIFE” (2022, SAND, ACRYLIC AND OIL ON LINEN), 6 BY 36 BY 1 1/2 INCHES
“UNTITLED” (2022, ACRYLIC AND GOUACHE ON PAPER), 6 1/2 BY 5 INCHES, 17 3/4 BY 16 1/4 BY 1 3/4 INCHES FRAMED.
“AWAKEN IN HARMONY” (2021, SAND, ACRYLIC AND OIL ON LINEN), 60 BY 48 INCHES
“THE VALLEY BETWEEN” (2022, SAND, ACRYLIC AND OIL ON LINEN), 40 BY 80 BY 1 1/2 INCHES, ALL ARTWORKS BY JENNIFER GUIDI
In 2023, Martin will release her own typeface, Shantell Sans, on Google Fonts. The free type is based on her own handwriting. PHOTO BY MATT DOYLE
Here’s a term you’ve probably never heard before: visual jockey. “That’s someone who does live drawn digital or analog visuals to DJs and dancers and musicians,” explains Shantell Martin (shantellmartin. art). The Londonborn artist would know—it’s how she launched her career after moving to Japan in 2003. “That was a really strong foundation for my art career because, essentially, what I was doing as a VJ was, for hours and hours and hours, I was drawing live, drawing spontaneously, drawing intuitively... drawing without a plan, but just drawing to extract something or to extract marks or moments or feelings.”
PHOTO COURTESY OF RALPH LAUREN
She made quite a name for herself in the field, being named as a top 10 VJ by DJ Magazine, but then, in 2008, a trip to New York and Boston changed everything. She loved the two cities so much that she ended up moving to the United States one year later. With the move, Martin had to quickly carve a new hole in the industry for her art to stand out in. “I was drawing on cars and drawing on people and drawing on my walls, and then it was interesting because some of that stuff started to take traction,” she says, noting a mural she drew in her bedroom that ended up being on the cover of the Home and Garden section in The New York Times.“People really connected to the simplicity of it and the calmness of it, and the encouragement of it for others to potentially do the same,” she adds. Of course, that only continued to catapult Martin’s career.
The artist recently debuted a line with Hoek Home, where her linear art is displayed across transformable furniture from coffee tables to wall art. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE NBMMA
Since, she’s been a scholar at the MIT Media Lab (there’s still a mural that she drew inside) and a fellow at Columbia, and has worked as an adjunct professor at NYU Tisch School of the Arts. She’s taken over the Whitney Museum shop and had a retrospective at the New Britain Museum of American Art; she’s even collaborated with B&B Italia. But one project especially stands out: a dance she choreographed with the Boston Ballet in 2022. Martin had no choreography or dance experience, but used the correlation between the movement of her art and the story that she wanted to tell with the practice. Martin says, “The way that I approached it is, I can configure and I can choreograph a drawing, so, therefore, I can choreograph a movement.” The story, during which 11 Boston Ballet dancers illustrated the life of kites, showed from March 3 to 13. Within her art, Martin continues to use experiences like this to inspire her work. “I don’t know if it’s anyone specifically,” she concludes, “but I’m inspired by people who challenge themselves, who push themselves, who experiment, who are consistently progressing.”
PHOTO BY CONNIE TSANG
Anna Weyant, “Sophie” (2022, oil on canvas), 113 inches by 76 ¾ inches by 2 inches
“I think that the show is pretty fun. It’s quiet but also a little campy with a sprinkle of violence,” says New York-based artist Anna Weyant of her upcoming show, Baby, It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over, opening Nov. 3 at Gagosian’s 980 Madison Ave. gallery in New York.
Weyant in her studio in New York
The Canadian-born, Rhode Island School of Design- and China Academy of Art in Hangzhou-trained artist has taken the art world by storm as the youngest artist represented by blue-chip gallery Gagosian. Her figurative and realistic paintings depict tragicomic themes—where darkness and violence often lurk just beneath the surface of suburbia or juxtapose a bloom with a revolver. In somber, dark palettes, her work references the Golden Age Dutch masters, while exploring the painful narratives of today.
Like many artists, Weyant admits the feeling of success is ephemeral. “I’ve made a few paintings that I really liked. And I felt so great—like I could die and be satisfied. But I look at most of them now and I don’t see the magic. It wasn’t lasting. But the initial feeling is such a high.”
Anna Weyant, “Two Eileens” (2022, oil on canvas), 60 ⅛ inches by 48 ⅛ inches by 1 ⅛ inches
The artist stands in front of his piece. Jimmy O’Neal, “Beneath The Foundation” (acrylic and mirrorized paint on panel), 96 inches by 108 inches
“I wanted to create a mark that was representative and would reflect society in the time that this physical body is existing,” says artist Jimmy O’Neal. The SCAD alumnus has an oeuvre that spans from the late ’80s till now—his work always pushing the envelope, yet rooted in the traditional story of painting.
“The Theatre” (acrylic on acrylic panel), 94 inches by 152 inches
Today, O’Neal lives and works on a 20-acre property in a quiet corner of the world, Woodruff, S.C., where he continues to create pieces that aim to blur the lines between our perceived and unperceived realities. The creative mind of O’Neal doesn’t lend itself simply to “canvas, goo, repeat”—instead, O’Neal has dreamt up and invented a variety of projects that cross the lines between science, art, perception and time. For example, he is credited with creating “Brain Machine,” a rudimentary EEG cap that he connected with a device similar to that of an Etch A Sketch to create art based on brain waves and eye motion—simultaneously taking out the human stroke entirely and putting the human condition at the center of the work and process.
Jimmy O’Neal, “Any Available Associate” (acrylic mirror paint on acrylic panel), 90 inches by 61 inches
O’Neal also often creates installations that are kinetic and, on occasion, frenetic. Using his lens-based painting technique, O’Neal strives to reflect the world around us; his stroke is both a truer view and distortion of reality so that we may see more clearly. In the creation of his work, O’Neal captures “real-time” signifiers of this reality and provides us with glimpses into the Universal Gnosis—our inner knowing of that which we cannot consciously articulate. O’Neal has exhibited in galleries and museums across the country and has long-standing relationships with galleries in Los Angeles and Atlanta, having just wrapped an exhibition at Bill Lowe Gallery titled About Now: An Introspective in October. “There is so much we haven’t figured out how to get out of our minds,” says O’Neal. “There is a realm that we have not grasped and have not gleaned. That is what I want to capture in my art.”
O’Neal’s exhibit About Now: An Introspective on display at Atlanta’s Bill Lowe Gallery.
Eduard Angeli, “The Studio” (2017, charcoal and sanguine on burlap), 74.8 inches by 94.5 inches
Debuting his first exhibition in the United States, Eduard Angeli’s Cities on Water paintings will be on display at The Society of the Four Arts in Palm Beach from February to April 2023. Angeli was born in Austria, but began spending considerable time in Venice, Istanbul and St. Petersburg. Hence the title of this exhibition, with 11 large works depicting motifs from these three cities.
“Il Redentore” (2013, charcoal on burlap), 74.8 inches by 118.1 inches
A landscape painter, his favored medium is charcoal and his motifs derive from, but do not outright imitate, nature. Instead, they evoke hidden reality beyond simple appearances, which is sometimes translated as loneliness or sentimental melancholy. This places him in a line of descent from 19th century Symbolism and the “metaphysical” painting of Giorgio de Chirico. “Angeli is a unique talent, a 21st century painter of powerful, haunting images that can be assimilated to 19th century European Symbolist landscape,” says Dr. Philip Rylands, president and CEO of The Society of the Four Arts in Palm Beach and curator of the Cities on Water exhibition. “The Four Arts is proud to present his first U.S. exhibition.”
Eduard Angeli, “The Lanter, #217” (2005, charcoal on paper), 59.8 inches by 40.2 inches
Angeli is highly successful in his native capital of Vienna, where he has been given exhibitions in the Rupertinum, the Historisches Museum, the Belvedere and twice in the Albertina. He has also exhibited in the Museo Correr in Venice, and spent 10 years as a board member of Vienna’s University of Applied Arts.
“The Expectation” (2021, pastel on canvas), 59.1 inches by 59.1 inches
Since this is Angeli’s first exhibition stateside, it is an honor that goes to The Society of the Four Arts, a nonprofit cultural organization that offers the crème de la crème of artistic expressions through live events, concerts, exhibits, workshops, films, children’s programs and more—all on the waterfront in Palm Beach.
“Lido, Winter” (2006, pastel on paper), 40.2 inches by 59.8 inches
Antonia Wright, “Be” (2013, HD video)
“My interest in using the body as a principal tool enables me to undermine the boundaries of politics, to challenge social conventions and to test the endurance of viewers,” says Miami-based artist Antonia Wright in her introductory biography. The Cuban American artist has received praise and recognition for her utilization of art, her body and expression to expose societal realities.
“Are You OK?” (2011, HD video)
Most recently, Wright spotlighted her reaction to the women’s reproductive rights crisis with a solo show in collaboration with Spinello Projects. Through the exhibition titled I Came to See The Damage That Was Done and the Treasures That Prevail, she presented a body of work with highlights including a digital artwork installation, Women in Labor. Here, she created a sound art composition that used data signification to protest the changing laws around access to safe and legal abortions.
Antonia Wright, “Hang-her” (2022)
With the help of computational algorithms, Wright produced a visual representation of the new increase in mileage women are forced to travel to access care. To amplify this, she collected sounds of women in labor, including her own in 2015, encouraging her audience to engage in the experience of labor through sound. “All the works in the exhibition confront the idea of autonomy for the female reproductive body and what remains of our rights in our current post-Roe v. Wade moment in history,” shares Wright. “There are several works showing the pregnant body and the anxieties and beauty of that symbol. There are pieces about protest—smashed glass, barricades, sonic warfare—because the whole show is a protest—I want to galvanize those who rage against the new anti-choice laws. Our bodies are marked targets yet still undeniably powerful.”
"And So With Ends Comes Beginnings” (2019-2020)
Up next, she’ll be showcasing a large-scale project in collaboration with Ruben Millares of a 40-foot-long light sculpture entitled “Patricia y Vida” for the city of Miami Beach on display during Art Basel Miami Beach outside the Faena Hotel.
In Philadelphia, see Saladeen’s art at Corridor Contemporary, where his newest exhibition, No Middle Cla$$, is on view through the end of December.
“Art was something that I always loved to do,” says King Saladeen. “I just didn’t know that it could actually be done.” Even so, the West Philly native took a successful jab at the industry, first starting by painting and selling T-shirts out of his car while working in real estate. His work became so popular that he started sneaker customizations as well. And then the recession hit. “I had to find a regular job,” he remembers. “But it was actually the time that got me to really think about what I wanted to do in life.” To date, he credits his late friend John Thompson, who really pushed him to pursue a career in the arts, for the inspiration to go for his dream. Thompson was his first true believer, and is the inspiration behind “JP the Money Bear,” one of the artist’s most well-known pieces. It was 2011 when Saladeen officially decided to pursue art full time. After gaining a following in Philadelphia, he moved to Miami, eventually attending Art Basel Miami Beach where he made connections with other artists and galleries. When Instagram entered the chat, Saladeen’s reach extended even further (of note, he has over 100,000 followers), leading him to snag local projects like collaborations with Neiman Marcus, Boyds and Uniqlo.
“I think my inspiration comes from being from the inner city,” Saladeen says. “I’m the only person in my family that’s ever been self-employed off of a gift. … The inspiration is really just seeing how far you can go in life with a God-given talent.”
He even painted a 200-foot mural in Philadelphia International Airport in 2019. “Those were the most prolific hometown collaborations,” Saladeen adds. Nationally, solo exhibitions and shows dot his portfolio, including plenty of appearances in Soho and a collaboration with Teen Vogue in Malibu—as well as a big break with Jordan Brand. “It was a project called A’s for Jay’s, which was for public schools in Philadelphia,” he explains of the basketball-inspired panels he painted. The program gave free shoes to students with straight A’s who attended West Philly High and Kensington High. “I want to use my art as a vehicle to do a whole lot of things other than just painting on canvases and selling out shows,” he says. This mindset led him to start the Create, Motivate, Inspire Foundation (CMI215 Inc.) in 2016, and he continues to give back to his community through book bag drives, neighborhood basketball tournaments, turkey drives and more. Saladeen is also an avid supporter of cancer research, and has participated in the Philly Fights Cancer foundation, as well as other local efforts like the American Cancer Society. In combination with his philanthropic efforts, Saladeen continues to grow his art portfolio, more recently with an NFT project with Gary Vee and a DesignerCon-exclusive drop of his newest character, Teddy, with eBay.
Alexis Smith, “The Girl Can’t Help It” (1985, mixed media collage), 26 ½ inches by 18 ⅞ inches by 1 ½ inches
The mystique of Hollywood’s allure comes to life at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego’s La Jolla campus through Alexis Smith: The American Way. On display until Jan. 29, 2023, the multiroom exhibition pays homage to Los Angeles-based artist Alexis Smith and stands as the first retrospective of the visionary’s work in more than 30 years.
Artist Alexis Smith
“Alexis Smith has long been considered a central figure of art in Los Angeles and has continued to have an impactful presence in the region—and yet, her work has not received the critical attention that it deserves,” shares associate curator Anthony Graham. “Smith’s singular career working in collage expands our understanding of American art and provokes us to think critically on the culture we share.”
Installation views of Alexis Smith: The American Way at Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego include the Marilyn Monroe-inspired “Men Seldom Make Passes at Girls Who Wear Glasses” (1985, wall painting with two framed mixed media collages), a focal point of the multiroom display.
Drawing upon her California roots, Smith’s pieces explore themes of feminism, self-realization and identity constructs as they relate to pop culture, film, literature and Hollywood-influenced American mythology. Created between the 1970s and 2010s, the 50 artworks featured in the exhibit range from intimate collages to wall paintings to monolithic installations. Highlights include “Your Name Here” (1975), a director’s chair outfitted with the artist’s name on the back—a nod to the reinvention that’s become the norm in Hollywood since Smith was actually born Patti Anne Smith. “MCASD is the perfect place for this major and long-overdue retrospective of Alexis Smith, who not only has strong ties to Southern California... but also with the museum itself, as one of our collection artists,” notes MCASD David C. Copley Director and CEO Kathryn Kanjo.
“I’m particularly excited to see the return of Smith’s iconic wall-based collage “Men Seldom Make Passes at Girls Who Wear Glasses” (1985), which formerly welcomed visitors in the museum’s entryway, because it emblematizes just how large of an impact she has had in the San Diego community for so long.” California dreaming, indeed.
San Francisco artist Koak
Tightrope walking is something we’ve all done. Well, metaphorically. That’s the feeling San Francisco-based artist Koak embraces every day with her work. Her pieces are at once familiar and surreal. In other words, they reveal the human condition. “I don’t particularly like to feel safe. I’m a bit addicted to not always knowing what I’m doing, and the unexpected hurdles that entails,” she says. “So, challenging myself with new techniques, materials, processes or concepts is a key part to how I work. An example of this would be the way I incorporate the sifted pencil shavings from my drawings into my paintings. I can’t recall when this started, but it’s become a staple in the studio for building up my line work in paintings. Over the years, it’s morphed, created new challenges, informed other works like sculpture or drawing.”
“Little Tuber” (2022, flashe themselves within it.” and graphite on canvas), 61 inches by 48 ½ inches
Koak, who will have a major show—Letter to Myself (when the world’s on fire)—in January at Altman Siegel Gallery to coincide with the renowned FOG Design+Art Fair, has been lauded this year by The New York Times and Galerie magazine, and for good reason: Her work reflects our collective mood in an uncertain world. Call it an artistic barometer for the ages. “My current inspiration has been the sense of tension we’ve all been living through,” she says. “The fear of fires and floods, worries about the future or just the general bombardment of anxiety that can sometimes border on the absurd. I’ve been envisioning the show I’m currently working on as a sort of letter to myself about that anxiety—a collection of paintings, drawings and installations that focuses on natural and environmental disasters, while also exploring the sense of surreal detachment, humor and even lightness that can accompany these darker experiences.”
“Strange Loop” (2021, bronze), 64 inches by 50 inches by 74 inches
The artist, who also has upcoming shows in London’s Union Pacific and Seoul’s Perrotin, says she’s forever fine-tuning her work (the hue of a painting, the curve of a sculpture, the angle of a smile) until the notes feel right. “I keep nudging those small elements until they don’t feel simple, bland or expected,” she says. “It’s not a work that feels happy or sad—but something at odds with itself, with depth and complexity. All of this is in the hope that the work resonates with what it’s like to be human enough so that viewers can see a bit of themselves within it.”
Dark Corridor” (2022 acrylic, graphite, flashe and chalk on linen), 79 ½ inches by 59 inches
Chicago artist Theaster Gates is making his mark in the Windy City and around the world with his genre-busting projects.
Talk about a major multihyphenate: In his wide-ranging career, renowned Chicago-based artist Theaster Gates has made headlines for his pottery and ceramics; compelling exhibitions on race and inequality like 2020’s Amalgam, at Tate Liverpool; his musical work as bandleader of The Black Monks; and, closer to home, both his work as University of Chicago professor in the Department of Visual Arts and in giving new life to a large swath of the city’s South Side via his Rebuild Foundation.
Through his Rebuild Foundation, Gates has transformed a historic 1923 savings and loan on Chicago’s South Side into the vibrant Stony Island Arts Bank.
Indeed, Gates has not only resisted being pigeonholed as a particular kind of artist—“I feel like in some ways I’m living, and in living there are multiple forms that my artistic practice takes,” the artist told Time in 2019—he has transcended the idea of what an artist is and does, using his talents to effect change in Chicago and beyond in ways that are increasingly more impactful as his influence spreads. Notes David Levin, University of Chicago Senior Advisor to the Provost for Arts, of Gates’ appointment to his newest role as the University’s special advisor to the president for arts initiatives, “Theaster is a brilliant artist and thinker whose work brings pressing issues into view in ways that are at once penetrating, revelatory and astonishing,” Levin says. “I am so excited to work closely with him on a host of new initiatives that will continue to demonstrate the critical role of the arts at the University of Chicago, across the city and around the world.”
Gates served as co-chair at the 2019 Hirshhorn Gala at Lincoln Center in New York.
Phillip K. Smith III, Lucid Stead (2013) was exhibited in Joshua Tree, Calif.
From the Coachella Valley to Milan, Phillip K. Smith III has captured the world’s attention with his mesmerizing light-based works, many of which are large-scale, sitespecific installations. The L.A.-born, Palm Desert, Calif.-based artist has been interested in making art for as long as he can remember.
The artist in his studio with “Portal Variant 2” (2021)
“My parents always said I was a great kid because I would sit quietly drawing from a very young age,” he shares. “I’m the same way today! I think through drawing, so every project that I create starts through drawing.” Smith started his career in the architecture field, eventually shifting into public art. “Through a series of opportunities from Lucid Stead to Reflection Field at Coachella to The Circle of Land and Sky at the inaugural Desert X, I was able to become a full-time artist,” says Smith, who also creates smaller, color-shifting sculptural light works that can be installed inside. “Light is an incredible medium and a force to be reckoned with,” he says. “It is entirely unforgiving, in that it can highlight imperfection or choose not to follow along with your idea.
Reflection Field was shown at Coachella in 2014.
Through many early failures, I’ve discovered that light is meant to be conversed with. If you remain open to light showing you a path forward, it will lead to discoveries beyond your imagination.” Smith has been quite busy working on several upcoming projects, including Three Parallels, a site-specific exhibition at Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (smoca.org) running through next summer, and Light + Change (Nov. 25 to May 7, 2023) at Palm Springs Art Museum (psmuseum.org).
A detail of Phillip K. Smith III’s Three Parallels (2022), currently showing at Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art
He also has three public artworks being installed in North Scottsdale, Ariz.; La Jolla, Calif.; and Bellevue, Wash. But no matter where he shows or what he creates, the desert remains a connecting thread through all of his work. “I don’t think I could be making work like mine if I lived somewhere else,” shares the artist. “The desert provides daily natural light phenomena for me. From the shifting light and shadow texture of the mountains to the colors of the lit sky at sunset and dawn to the geometric purity of cacti and agave, I am happily surrounded by the desert’s examples of pure beauty each and every day.”
The Circle of Land and Sky (2017) was shown at the inaugural Desert X exhibition in Palm Desert, Calif.
Photography by: FROM TOP: PHOTO BY TIMOTHY SCHENCK; PHOTO BY BRICA WILCOX/COURTESY OF THE ARTIST; GUIDI ARTWORK PHOTOS BY BRICA WILCOX/ COURTESY OF THE ARTIST AND DAVID KORDANSKY GALLERY; PHOTO BY MATT DOYLE; PHOTO COURTESY OF RL1; PHOTO COURTESY OF THE NBMMA; PHOTO BY CONNIE TSANG; WEYANT ARTWORK PHOTOS BY ROB MCKEEVER © ANNA WEYANT/COURTESY OF GAGOSIAN; PORTRAIT COURTESY OF THE ARTIST AND GAGOSIAN; PHOTO BY MIKE JENSEN; PHOTO BY MIKE JENSEN; PHOTO BY JIMMY O’NEAL; PHOTO BY MIKE JENSEN; ANGELI PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE SOCIETY OF THE FOUR ARTS PALM BEACH; WRIGHT PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE ARTIST AND SPINELLO PROJECTS; SALADEEN PHOTOS BY PHIL KRAMER; PHOTO COURTESY OF THE ARTIST; PHOTO BY JOSHUA WHITE; SMITH GALLERY PHOTOS © PHILIPP SCHOLZ RITTERMANN. 2022; PHOTO BY MARIA KANEVSKAYA; PHOTO COURTESY OF: THE ARTIST AND ALTMAN SIEGEL, SAN FRANCISCO; PHOTO COURTESY OF: THE ARTIST, ALTMAN SIEGEL, SAN FRANCISCO AND PERROTIN; PHOTO COURTESY OF: THE ARTIST, ALTMAN SIEGEL, SAN FRANCISCO AND PERROTIN; PHOTO BY BENJAMIN LOZOVSKY/BFA.COM; PHOTO BY: KELLY TAUB/BFA.COM; PHOTO BY: BENJAMIN LOZOVSKY/BFA.COM; PHOTO BY STEVE KING; PHOTO BY LANCE GERBER; PHOTO BY LANCE GERBER; PHOTO BY LANCE GERBER; PHOTO BY LANCE GERBER