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Current Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions
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Frederick Hammersley (1919-2009) 1964 Collection Palm Springs Museum of Art
There are several exhibitions that I wish I could have seen this month.  Pandemic has locked down the
option of seeing them in person.  Galleries have been quick to put up online exhibitions.  This represents a
curious extension of a growing presence of the art marketplace on the web.  Over the last years,
discussions with dealers demonstrate that an increasing number of art sales are totally negotiated via an
electronic interface.  The dealer posts an image, the buyer sees the image and makes an e-mail offer to
buy.  I suppose the buyer gets an e-notice from the shipper about delivery.  I find it incredible that
someone would buy a piece of art without physically seeing it.  Is this de-evolution of art?  Perhaps this is
the further evolution of “conceptual art.”  “It” has an image; therefore it is.
Lino Tagliapietra  2009
The last chance I had to look at real art, in the flesh, was at the Palm Springs Art Museum on the
last day before they closed.  PSAM is a terrific regional museum.  The basis of the museum
started in 1938 – but it changed its name and programming in 2004.  It would only exhibit art and
performance, relinquishing the earlier natural history part of its program.  PSAM has a
phenomenal collection – benefiting from the culturally astute Hollywood set and wealthy
benefactors who continue to play in Palm Springs.
Lino Tagliapietra has an exhibition of 25 pieces up through April 12.  Quoting from the museum
wall text: “One of the greatest living artists working in glass, Lino Tagliapietra was born in 1934 in
Murano, Italy and became an apprentice glassblower at age 11. Even at a young age,
Tagliapietra exhibited an immense dexterity for glass and, at age 21, was appointed the title of
“Maestro,” an honor reserved for only the best glassblowers.”
Joni Gordon 1980
Since I cannot review current contemporary exhibitions in LA – I am writing a historical piece from
my decades of LA art scene immersion.  This piece recalls Joni Gordon of Newspace Gallery.
Joni Gordon (1936-2012) started working in galleries during her undergraduate years at UCLA in
the late 1950s exploring early art interests.  She did not want to be an artist and being an art dealer
wasn’t even in the back of her head.  A group of UC Irvine students, led by the painter Jean St.
Pierre, had opened a gallery in an unfashionable area of Melrose just west of Western (probably
directed to his location by Jean Milant who had opened a print studio and gallery (Cirrus) just a
couple blocks further west).  When Joni happened into Newspace she was intrigued by the energy
of the founding artists.  The gallery was on the verge of financial collapse and Joni came to the
rescue becoming the owner and operator.  Though not rich, her “acquisition” cost her 26 cents for
the key and $200 per month rent.
Under Joni Gordon, the new Newspace opened in 1975 with a show of paintings by St. Pierre.  The
show sold out.  A bit later the playwright Edward Albee dropped in buying a big Christopher
Georgesco sculpture.  Albee remarked after Joni’s death, “She was intelligent, sensitive and ...
much more aesthetic than commercial but she knew what she was doing. She had a very good mind
and a very good eye.”
Martha Alf, 1977, Collection of Doug Simay
My interest in Los Angeles contemporary art really started in 1978, I was 28 years old.  I came across
a glossy paper “magazine” called Visual Dialog (I think they only published two issues).  It was in that
journal that I saw a photo of a pear drawing by Martha Alf (considered by some to be a San Diego
artist).  That caused me to search out Newspace Gallery.  I bought an Alf drawing from Joni in June of
1978.  It was the beginning of a long visual relationship with Joni.  Visiting Newspace led to Cirrus (in
the year before Jean moved downtown) and Ed Lau of Space on Santa Monica Blvd.  
Marjorie Nodelman (1979) Collection of the Oceanside Museum of Art, Gift from Doug Simay
Newspace was a cramped gallery with glass block bricks as its storefront. Marjorie Nodelman
(first shown by Newspace in 1979) was a San Diego artist championed by Joni.  Marjorie’s
exhibitions were outrageous.  Marjorie’s paintings at that time were large, stretched, shaped         
canvasses with themes revolving around warfare and battle.  The figurative images were very
Pop.  She called the series “Military Industrial Complex.”  My ultimate friendship with San Diego
painter Nodelman began by seeing her work at Newspace.
Astrid Preston “Cleo’s Well”, 1982, Collection of Doug Simay  
Astrid Preston was represented by Joni very early on.  It took me a while to understand and
appreciate Astrid’s work.  The drawing “Cleo’s Well” marked Astrid’s evolution from the abstract
to figurative.  Buying “Cleo’s Well” in 1983 began my admiration of Astrid’s ever-evolving artistic
output.  Astrid remained with Newspace until 1986 with close to yearly exhibitions.  Her gallery
associations evolved through Patti Aande Gallery (San Diego), Jan Turner Gallery (LA), Peter
Blake (Laguna Beach), Craig Krull (LA), and RB Stevenson (San Diego).  The last two dealers
currently represent her.
Astrid Preston “Two Curved Roads”, 1983, Collection of Doug Simay
Astrid Preston “Crossing the Solitude”, 1985, Collection of Doug Simay
What follows are some of the artworks that I bought from Newspace.  They represent a cross-
section of artists that Joni Gordon championed.  Most went on to be represented by other dealers.  
There is always friction between artists and dealers.  There can be no doubt that Newspace was an
important incubator for new artistic talent.  She introduced new artists and helped them to establish
their identities.  As these artists matured and have become senior members of the art’s community,
we can all remember the gumption and dedication that Joni Gordon brought to LA’s artistic world.
Patricia Patterson, “The Party”, 1982,  Collection of Doug Simay
John Sonsini, Newspace exhibition poster, 1983, Collection of Doug Simay (Gift of Joni Gordon)
Joni Gordon and Ed Lau of Space Gallery were the two most important art dealers in my early
years of collecting.  They taught me the mechanics of being a collector and how an art-buyer
and dealer negotiated shared interests.
Dan McCleary, “Michael Abatemarco”, 1985, Collection of Doug Simay
Joni Gordon said: “I knew I had no interest in … making art, but I had the sincere desire to be
near it — and you could only do that if you owned it.”
Lisa Ferrante, “La Vida Feliz”, 1988, Collection of Doug Simay
Over the course of its tenure, Newspace Gallery had 12 assistant directors.  It was perhaps
under Joni’s wing that Suzanne Vielmetter learned her earliest lessons.
Kristen Leachman, “Rod #1”, 1997, Collection of Doug Simay
The last show at Newspace in the fall of 2006 was called “Good to Go”.  The 114 artists
represented at some time by Newspace were in that exhibition.  Joni Gordon retired. She moved to
Bend, Oregon where she died from a massive cerebral hemorrhage in 2012.
Tiffanie Morrow, “untitled (from “My Friend Flicka”), 1998, Collection of Doug Simay
I have known and know a voluminous number of LA art dealers.  Joni Gordon is little remembered
but hugely important.  As Edward Albee wrote in 2006 from New York: “Joni Gordon is not only a
great gal but she is intelligent, knowledgeable, and sympathetic.  Would that all galleries and
gallerist could say this.”
Ryan Sweeten, “untitled“, 2002, Collection of Doug Simay
Offered for Sale from the Doug Simay Collection
Lisa Ferrante
“La Vida Feliz” 1988
Woodcut with worked tin frame
28 x 30 inches                             $2,000

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Get out (when we can), look at art; have fun.
Doug Simay    March 2020  

Art for Sale