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Topanga Canyon Gallery: Earth And Sky

Special To Topanga Journal

Perhaps there is nothing more feminist than the Earth. It is both dark and light, the sun always chasing the moon, the light inches ahead of the dark, the sky in equipoise between the earth below and the universe above, yin and yang continually in balance. Topanga Canyon Gallery will present in September four Topanga artists that represent these feminist qualities of our world in an exhibition they have titled Earth and Sky. The four artists are Donna Geist Buch, Jonna Gill, Connie Cambardella and Moises Mendoza. 

Kriss Perras headshot by Alan Weissman

By Kriss Perras

Geist Buch is an artist and musician and assemblage artist. She creates mixed media works that balance between abstraction and representation. She’s a self taught artist but also studied at Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles. 

For this series, Buch Geist says her paintings are, “acrylic, mixed media which includes texture mediums, different types of water based paints,  some have inks, charcoal pencil, pastels or an undercoating of leafing — gold or silver. This body of work is painted on canvas or wood panels. My assemblages are also mixed media: paint, paper, texture mediums, found objects, including man made objects, as well as natural occurring elements.”

“I find that there is nothing more beautiful and inspiring than nature, even in its most harsh of times. It has expression just like humans do.” Donna Geist Buch

The title of the exhibition being Earth And Sky, Geist Buch’s paintings are earthy delights. The eye catches abstracted forms of nature and semi-representations of trees or rocks, water and sky. Geist Buch says she finds inspiration for this series in balance between the abstract and representation.

“The earth and the sky are tangible references in time and I wanted to capture that. I find that there is nothing more beautiful and inspiring than nature, even in its most harsh of times. It has expression just like humans do. I wanted to capture that expression by utilizing the dramatic differences of night and day, playing with the dramatic effects of light effecting the earth and sky. My Assemblages were inspired by earth elements, as well as my imagination to create a sculptural formation.” 

Gill is a mixed media artist, photographer and metal smith who started her professional career in New York City. She studied several disciplines in Parsons School of Design, The Fashion Institute of Technology and The Art Students League Of New York. She blurs the lines of preconceived reality, challenging one to cinder the existence of what was not perceivable prior. With her jewelry work she mixes the earth’s elements to bring healing energy and joy.

When asked how does the emotional impact of wearing a piece of jewelry connect a person to the earth and sky, Gill said, “The basic components of jewelry come from the earth in the form of metals and gemstones. Working with jewelry for as long as I have, I’ve found gemstones and minerals from the earth to be magical. One may purchase a piece of jewelry because they are attracted to it aesthetically or emotionally; however, I think the wearing of a piece of jewelry comprised of metals and stones connects you to the earth, if only on a subconscious level. Starting out in the field of jewelry making, I was attracted to stones mainly for their beauty, color, feel, and texture. In the process of continually handling them, I became quite attracted to the metaphysical properties of the stones and have become quite sensitive to the vibration that each stone emits. Gemstones can positively affect your health, your mood, in a very real and tactile way and metals can amplify these properties. The emotional impact of wearing jewelry connects a person to the earth because the elements are a gift from Gaia, generated from primal source; the same source energy that flows through us.”

Getting a little more personal with this artist, we asked how did this project connect her to the earth and sky?

“This project made me concentrate more deeply on the earth, sky, the living, breathing home to humanity. According to scientists, the earth has been around for approximately 4.5 billion years, and we have managed to practically destroy it over the last 100 years alone. Through industrialization, coupled with I suspect immense greed, we have brought our home to the place where it is today: polluted water, dying species, declining air quality, worldwide temperatures so hot that people have been dying from the rising heat levels. I believe that Industrialization is not evil in and of itself, but forward strides must always be taken with consideration and responsibility to that which is precious, that which sustains us. The sky, (air), the earth, should be considered first and foremost today. Sadly, regulations and policies have been put into place in the recent past to protect the earth, which are currently being stripped away. One must start the day with gratitude for what one has, and carry that gratitude throughout the day and throughout one’s life. With that being said, I believe we should be thankful for the gift of earth, that which nourishes and sustains us and our priorities must hastily be put into place to protect her. My 2D work which will be exhibited at the Earth And Sky show as well, include a few illustrations in charcoal and pastel of a race of mystical beings that I have been told live in the Sun. Allegedly, they watch us through the sun and send us love in hopes that we will collectively realize that which is truly of utmost importance and act accordingly. They also hope that we will realize once again, where the source of our existence lies and that which is our true reason for being.” 

Cambardella is a photographer that connects the daily rhythms of life, nature, music and lifestyle. Her images transcend into feeling every beat, movement and splendor of beauty around us. 

When asked how her images help the viewer experience the earth and sky, Cambardella said, “They will transcend you into nature and expose the splendor of beauty that surrounds us, which is often overlooked. My wish is for the pictures to evoke emotion and awaken your senses to be one with nature. Hopefully in that moment, take your breathe away, fill your heart with peace, and connect you to exploring these wonders of our world.”

Deciding subject matter can be difficult sometimes. Cambardella has images from the local area return us to the beauty of our community. When asked how she decides what to photograph, she said, “With relevance to seasons, emotions, and the daily rhythms of life. I truly dig deep to what inspires me from within at that given time in my life. There’s usually a very fine line to what you see and how I feel inside my heart.”

Mendoza is a mixed media collage artists exploring the possibilities of surfaces and textures in still life and landscape imagery. Landscape is his primary inspiration, yet he uses form and shape cutting and remixing them into stylized abstracts. 

When asked if he thought his images contained ideas of climate change, Mendoza said, “When painting landscapes, as I am for this show, ideas of climate change are pretty inescapable. Especially as a California native, seeing the effects first hand around me with droughts and fires becoming the new normal, it tends to infiltrate most aspects of life, including my art. My work is non-political, I don’t tend to have messages or a narrative embedded in them. Instead I try to achieve a specific feeling, hopefully capturing the idyllic settings around us while they last. In the back of my mind I know these places may someday be unrecognizable, so for the time being I want to remember them in my own way.”

Mendoza’s work is unique and captures many aspects of California landscapes. When asked what techniques he brings to his work that enables him to open himself to his art, he said, “My work has a pretty specific technique to get it to look the way it does. A mix of graphic shapes and collage that I stumbled upon in my time in art school. I like to think it’s bold and a little loud, something that hopefully draws the eye from across the room. My personality is quite the opposite of those things. I am reserved and even timid around crowds of people, but with my art I can much more easily express myself and have it be an outlet for my inner extrovert. I’m one of those artists who would rather have the work itself speak on my behalf. Not out of apathy but rather a necessity, because I don’t feel I can adequately put into words the emotions and reasoning behind the work.”

Earth And Sky will be on exhibition September 5 through September 30. Please join the artists at their reception September 8th from 5:00 to 8:00 pm at Topanga Canyon Gallery, located at 120 N. Topanga Canyon Blvd. , Topanga, CA 90290.  


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