A painting by Kate Pincus-Whitney is part of The Pit's opening exhibition at the Palm Springs gallery: Paradise á la carte: Slouching towards Bethlehem (Topanga Point and Broadstreet) (2021), acrylic, polycolor, and gouache on canvas, 30x40 inches.
The pandemic has instigated some clever real estate transactions among art galleries. Top New York dealers, for example, opened outposts in “safe,” affluent suburbs of the Hamptons and Palm Beach, while L.A.’s elite sought larger spaces closer to clients or outside the city, in destinations such as Palm Springs.
The Pit, a Glendale gallery situated in a large industrial building, chose the latter scenario and opens its debut exhibition, “Oasis,” Saturday (June 19) at its new space at 258 N. Palm Canyon Drive in downtown Palm Springs.
The group show, loosely themed around nature, landscape, and memory, includes paintings by Amir H. Fallah, Matthew F. Fisher, Bella Foster, Elizabeth Huey, Becky Kolsrud, JJ Manford, Koichi Sato, Joani Tremblay, Paul Wackers, and Kate Pincus-Whitney.
The Pit prepares for “Oasis”, which continues through July 31.
“We were thinking about what brought us out to the desert and reflecting on the year,” says gallery co-owner Adam D. Miller, explaining the “Oasis” theme. “So many people wanted more space or to be in nature. There was so much idolizing of the landscape and nature and being away from the cities. A lot of the artists we work with have that subject matter in the work, so we started piecing together the show and called it ‘Oasis’ as a nod to Palm Springs and being in the desert — a perfect spot to build your own utopia.”
The artists explore idealized environments, from the domestic to the exotic, and their paintings range from representational to abstraction, with some teetering on the surreal, including Tremblay’s i’ve never been to jackpot nevada but I intend to go. panting. The artist, who lives and works between Montreal and Brooklyn, New York, infuses a transcendentalist quality into her imagined landscapes — constructed ideas of place — inspired by the modernist paintings of Agnes Pelton.
Fisher’s two paintings, Pale Northern Moon and To Lift the Masses, also assert a surrealist approach.
JJ Manford: Paul Klee Breakfast Nook (2020), oil stick, oil pastel, and Flashe on burlap over canvas, 66x56 inches.
Other standouts in “Oasis” include the 60-by-50-inch acrylic painting In the Balance of by Wackers, another Brooklyn-based artist. The composition blends interior and exterior, geometric and organic, and still life and landscape in colorfully refreshing fashion. “It could be the inside of a garden or looking out from someone’s window,” gallery director Lauren Every-Wortman suggests. “An oasis is not always what you think of, like going to Palm Springs. Anywhere can be an oasis for any person. For some people it’s a garden, for others a beautiful landscape.”
Likewise, Fallah’s two Wild Frontier paintings offer lush greenery but against backgrounds of electric fuchsia and lime green, and Foster takes the landscape into abstraction in California and The Morning Walk (Empire Mine State Park).
The show (and the gallery itself) also has an outsider streak, with works by Sato, Pincus-Whitney, and Manford.
Joani Tremblay: i’ve never been to jackpot nevada but i intend to go. panting. (2021), oil on linen, 48x36 inches.
Miller, a painter and ceramicist, and his wife and fellow artist Devon Oder signed a three-year lease on The Pit’s space in Palm Springs, and Miller’s parents are already looking for a new home in the desert. “It’s a family affair,” Miller says, adding that his 3- and 6-year-old children will briefly attend the opening before his parents whisk them away for the evening.
They will alternate exhibition openings in L.A. and Palm Springs. “Oasis” continues through July 31. The second show, featuring ceramics and artist-made furniture, runs Aug. 14–Sept. 25 and showcases more than a dozen artists and designers, including Christopher Miles and Katie Stout. Keith Boadwee’s solo exhibition runs Oct. 9–Nov. 20, followed by a Thea Smolinski-curated group show running Dec. 11–Jan. 22, 2022.