{ ART & CULTURE }

PLAYING FAVORITES

Local galleries’ most beloved pieces

BY BRIANNE BROWN

We asked local art galleries about their favorite or best-selling works of art. What about a specific piece makes it so appealing to the masses? Their answers ranged from the story the art tells to the universality of the subjects.

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Gallery Bonuccelli

Solana Beach’s newest gallery features the work of award-winning photographer and filmmaker Dominic Arizona Bonuccelli. Dominic gravitates towards photos that have a narrative and tell a secret story; a graduate of the University of Southern California’s School of Cinema, he has shot such luminaries as Stephen Hawking, Channing Tatum, Salma Hayek, Kenneth Branagh, Barack Obama, the Dalai Lama and Sting. Yet, despite these high-profile names, when asked about his favorite piece, Bonuccelli recalls a trip to Panama City, Panama, that yielded a photograph he entitled The Sandblaster:

I was shooting guidebook images for Lonely Planet in Central America on a four-month stint, and I happened across a lone man sandblasting a massive wooden boat in the harbor. He had fashioned his own makeshift goggles out of the screw tops of plastic gasoline cans, but they didn’t protect his eyes very well.

I gave him some cash for new glasses and asked if I could take his portrait. He fixed his shirt and struck the noblest pose, something akin to Don Quixote. It will always be one of my favorite travel images because it’s just iconic and simple, even stripped of color, yet there is obviously a profound story going on. The viewer can fill in the gaps with their own imagination.

Having celebrated the Cedros Design District gallery’s grand opening on March 17, Bonuccelli is excited for the future. He says, “Fellow photographer and long-time friend Remy Haynes moved to Solana last year, and I visited and fell in love with the mellow beach town vibe spiked with the vibrancy of the Cedros Design District. I love that it’s only a few blocks from the beach, that the traffic is chill and that I can bust my motorcycle 30 minutes east and I’m lost in the hills.”

Gallery Bonuccelli, 348 South Cedros Avenue, Solana Beach 442.333.5804 gallerybonuccelli.com

Martin Lawrence Galleries

Artist Mark Kostabi, whose exhibition at Martin Lawrence Galleries in La Jolla opens on April 21, embraces art that tells a story. Kostabi’s faceless figures speak a universal language with commentary on contemporary political, social and psychological issues. The artist notes that these figures are free of racial limitations and reflect society’s fear of individuality.

Kostabi’s work has been featured in The New York Times, People, Vogue, Playboy, Forbes, New York Magazine, Art Forum and Art in America.  His work is in over 50 permanent museum collections, including The Museum of Modern Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Guggenheim Museum, The Brooklyn Museum, The National Gallery in Washington D.C., The Corcoran Gallery of Art and others. Martin Lawrence Galleries is extremely proud to offer Kostabi originals, such as The Next Right Move, and considers the artist as someone who continues to leave an indelible impression on the art world.

Martin Lawrence Galleries, 1111 Prospect Street, Suite 140, La Jolla 858.551.1122 martinlawrence.com

Mark Kostabi, The Next Right Move, oil on canvas, 23.75 x 17.9 inches
Mark Kostabi, The Next Right Move, oil on canvas, 23.75 x 17.9 inches

Morten Gallery

Asking resident artist Norman Muller to pick his favorite piece would be akin to asking a parent to choose their favorite child. Morten Gallery’s master of abstract simply cannot choose among his original works, each oil on canvas painstakingly created using vibrant colors and textures that appeal to audiences who bring their own interpretation to every piece. When pressed, Muller could hardly choose a favorite color, eventually admitting a preference for reds with blue undertones before elaborating that all the colors of the rainbow hold a special place in his heart.

At Morten Gallery in La Jolla, perhaps the best-selling pieces are larger statement pieces—think 74”x 62”—that are commissioned by patrons and custom framed at the gallery. These patrons include both the adventurous art lover and the elite collectors of original pieces. Rather than impress upon his audience his own preferences, Muller creates works of art that ultimately become the favorites of anyone who is lucky enough to view them.

Morten Gallery, 1264 Prospect Street, La Jolla 858.203.3616 mortenartgallery.com

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Evgeny Yorobe Photography

Having recently opened his own gallery on Fay Avenue in La Jolla, native San Diegan and photographer Evgeny Yorobe cited Scripps Pier as one of his favorite spots in the city. It comes as no surprise, then, that this spot is the subject of Yorobe’s beloved “Corridor to the Sun.” Because the sun only sets at the end of the pier a few days out of the year, and weather can complicate obtaining the perfect shot, Yorobe’s previous attempts to capture the magic had fallen short. By a stroke of luck, however, he found himself drawn to the pier on the way to dinner one night, and the sunset lined up in spectacular fashion. The resulting image quickly went viral and put Yorobe and his work on the map.

Today, Yorobe often finds visitors to his gallery staring at the photo, utterly lost in its beauty. He imagines that the pier holds many of the same fond memories for them as it does for him. He says, “Looking at this piece hanging in my gallery or in one of my client’s homes floods me with memories of the past, and makes me smile with nostalgia and pride.”

Evgeny Yorobe Photography, 7660 Fay Avenue, Suite E, La Jolla 858.467.0952 sandiego-landscapes.com

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Legends Gallery

While Gallery Director Roree Ian Mayhew adores so many of the Dr. Seuss works currently on display at Legends Gallery in La Jolla, one work by English artist Mackenzie Thorpe has recently caught his eye. Man with a Fish is gorgeous in its simplicity, and the figure is a familiar one: a mainstay of Thorpe’s canon, the man is an everyman; a factory worker, a laborer; reminiscent perhaps of Thorpe’s own father or uncles, or one of the many other men of Middlesbrough, the factory town where Thorpe was born. Mayhew feels that this piece, in particular, is different: “There is a joy and lightness in his step that we have never seen before. … he is on his way to take home his catch to the family… and it will be enough.”

Legends Gallery, 1205 Prospect Street, Suite B, La Jolla 858.456.9900 legendsgallerylajolla.com

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