On the first weekend in May, from May 2nd to May 4th, we will open an exhibition of ceramics by LA artist, Melvino Garretti. Join us Friday, May 2nd from 7:00 to 9:00pm for a reception for the artist and on Saturday, May 3rd, for an artist talk at 3:00pm. Gallery hours on Saturday May 3rd and Sunday, May 4th, will be from 12:00 noon to 6:00pm. Thereafter, gallery hours are by appointment only. ALSO, please note that on Sunday from 3:00-6:00pm, distinguished Nuyorican poet, Willie Perdomo, and emerging poet and writer, Rich Villar, will read from and sign their new poetry books. (An admission price of $15 applies for this segment of the afternoon. Refreshments will be served.)
We have been collecting artworks by Melvino Garretti, since we met him in Los Angeles 30-some years ago, when our dear friends, Walter Gordon and Teresa Sanchez, took us to visit his studio. We’d admired their collection of Garretti’s works and were chomping at the bit to meet him. We came away from his studio that unforgettable Saturday afternoon with an armload of ceramics: platters, vases, and various other objets d’art. Over the years our collection has grown to include his paintings, works on paper, and of course, much more of his unique vases, jars, platters, and other pieces.
Melvino came of age as an artist in Los Angeles in the 1970s, during an especially prolific time particularly for African American artists, Alonzo Davis, David Hammons, and John Outterbridge, although it would take decades more before their works received the recognition it deserved from collectors and curators of “the mainstream” art world.
Garretti had an equally interesting background as a performer and set designer before honing in on the visual arts. He studied ceramics with Richard Bennett at Great Barrington Pottery in Housatonic, Massachusetts and was an apprentice under the renowned LA ceramics artist, Michael Frimkess. He received his MFA in painting from the San Francisco Art Institute in 1978.
According to New York’s Museum of Art and Design, “Michael Frimkess studied ceramics in California with Peter Voulkos, pursuing the abstract expressionist sculptural mode of his teacher. On a visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, [Frimkess] was introduced to historic ceramics, specifically Greek and Chinese pottery. Frimkess began modeling his forms on what he had seen, decorating them with narrative imagery, often with satirical or humorous intent.” That influence is prevalent in Garretti’s work, although Melvino has forged his own distinctive style and signature.
The thing that struck me when I first met Melvino and his work was the sheer volume, variety and complexity of work he produces. While his paintings are amazing, his ceramics distinguish him as an innovative and exceptionally creative artist. His works have been exhibited at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Los Angeles Design Center, San José Museum of Art, numerous galleries and interior design showrooms in California and New York, as well as in Europe.
In those days when I first met Melvino, I’d never met an American black man with an Italian name, so I was curious. When I asked him how he came to be named Melvino Garretti, he said that in observing the art world and how it functioned, he noticed that the Italians were among the most revered artists in art history books and with the most commercial success, so he decided to add an “o” and an “i” to his own name, in order to bring some of that attention and success to his own career.
We are excited to present Melvino Garretti’s most recent works We look forward to introducing him and his art to you. Come hear him talk about his process, his background and history, and his take on contemporary art in both Los Angeles and in the world today.