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Opening Night: Audrey Kawasaki, Tara McPherson, and Deedee Cheriel at Merry Karnowsky Gallery

Last weekend, Los Angeles rain didn’t stop crowds from turning out to the Audrey Kawasaki, Tara McPherson, and Deedee Cheriel show at Merry Karnowsky. The line was over a block long while inside the gallery, not an inch of wall space was spared. In addition to colorful new paintings, the adjacent room debuted smaller works by Cheriel, McPherson’s process sketches and a wall of prints. As we mentioned in our preview, there was an air of fantasy throughout, but each artist distinguished herself with personal motifs.

Last weekend, Los Angeles rain didn’t stop crowds from turning out to the Audrey Kawasaki, Tara McPherson, and Deedee Cheriel show at Merry Karnowsky. The line was over a block long while inside the gallery, not an inch of wall space was spared. In addition to colorful new paintings, the adjacent room debuted smaller works by Cheriel, McPherson’s process sketches and a wall of prints. As we mentioned in our preview, there was an air of fantasy throughout, but each artist distinguished herself with personal motifs.


Left to right: Lola, Audrey Kawasaki, and Leah Whitaker of Static Medium print studio.

Kawasaki’s “Hirari Hirari” (onomatopoeia for a petal, leaf or feather slowly falling) found new inspiration in the kimonos her mother gave her as a child. It is relatively unusual to find human figures depicted in kimono scenes, making hers a modern association between subject and setting. Her signature dreamy young girls look both contemporary and traditional. They are outlined in bold lines and colors but are as flow-y as the flora and fauna that surrounds them. Kimono colors have a strong poetic significance. For example, Kawasaki’s choice of black corresponds to elements of water, north, winter and wisdom, while her more often-used red alludes to glamour and love.

Tara McPherson’s showing “Supernova” set in the blackness of deep space, tells a different story about love. “Supernova explores the power of women as creators. The title painting shows a mother universe and the explosive birth of a star… a supernova created from the death of her heart. Rebirthed and renewed to create life and love again in a magnificently endless cycle,” she explains. “The show explores love, creation, and feminine power in the depths and darkness of space and other surreal environments.” Her wistful female characters drip with sparkling droplets as they emerge from pools of water. Even in their state of isolation and contemplation, they are empowered. McPherson places her heroines at the center of the universe, accompanied by her cute and creepy ‘nebula’ characters. Their thoughts and emotions literally radiate from them, as little red hearts and stars inside floating bubbles.


Left to right: Natalia Fabia with Tara McPherson at opening night.

Deedee Cheriel credits a similarly spiritual influence for her show, “In Search for More Than Another Shiny Object” – the St. Francis Prayer. “I thought it could be a great meditation on peace, and perhaps through the process of making work on this subject, I too could be transformed to be something that is a more peaceful addition to the planet,” she shares. Her half-animal figures express themselves in brightly colored patterns rather than words, waving like flags overhead. This self described ‘punk rock haiku’ represents everything from life, love, family, nature, to traditional song and dance.

New works by Audrey Kawasaki, Tara McPherson, and Deedee Cheriel are on view at Merry Karnowsky Gallery through August 30th, 2014.

Audrey Kawasaki:

Tara McPherson:

Deedee Cheriel:

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