As Von Dutch’s name recognition reaches its pinnacle due to a commercially successful clothing line bearing the name of the influential pinstriper and “kustom kulture” lowbrow artist who first gained acclaim in the 1950s, Copro/Nason Gallery in Santa Monica has staged its second Von Dutch tribute art exhibition. The Von Dutch Tribute II exhibition is on display through Saturday, June 10th, at the Copro/Nason Gallery, 2525 Michigan Ave., Santa Monica. Admission is free.

In June of 1996, Copro/Nason gallery curated its first Von Dutch Tribute exhibition in honor of the late, legendary craftsman. This milestone exhibition featured original flying eyeballs, pinstripe panels, monster illustrations, sculptures and a Dutch-built 1947 Kenworth body mounted on a Ford truck chassis. About 25 artists were featured in the show including Coop, Von Franco, Stanley Mouse, Frank Kozik, Anthony Ausgang and others who were directly inspired by Von Dutch’s painting, pinstriping and craftsmanship.

Von Dutch earned his reputation in the 1950s as the premier pinstriper of cars and motorcycles in an age of mushrooming interest in hot rod and “kustom” car cultures, according to Copro/Nason. Von Dutch’s most widely-recognized image is the “flying eyeball” he often painted on the hot rods he customized.

In the 1960s, he focused his expertise on restoring antique motorcycles, developing a regard for machines as works of art.

In the 1970s, Von Dutch spent time at the Movieworld: Cars of the Stars Museum in Buena Park, where he customized and worked on numerous creations including building automobiles from scratch and fabricating their elaborate displays. Through the 1980s, Von Dutch found new means of expression for his craftwork in the form of a steam-powered television set. He also put his fascination for guns and knives on display when he began to create handmade guns and approximately 100 knives with exquisite brass etchings. The weapons were crafted without the aid of measuring tools, according to Copro/Nason.

Von Dutch (Kenny Howard) died September 19, 1992. In tribute, his work formed the catalyst (along with Ed “Big Daddy” Roth and Robert Williams) for the 1993 Kustom Kulture exhibition at the Laguna Art Museum, which celebrated Southern California as the birthplace of custom culture and Von Dutch a main progenitor. This exhibition was the first significant museum show to bring hot rod-influenced artists to the attention of a new audience not used to thinking about automobiles as “art,” according to Copro/Nason.

Thirteen years later, Von Dutch’s art still influences a new generation of artists and, as evidenced by the successful clothing line bearing his name, has achieved the status of an internationally recognized brand-name of “hip” popular culture. Von Dutch’s daughters sold the rights to his surname and his “flaming eyeball” logo after his death.

Von Dutch himself expressed disdain for money and marketing. “There’s a struggle you have to go through, and if you make alot of money, the struggle don’t go away,” Von Dutch had said. “It just makes it more complicated. If you keep poor, the struggle is simple.”

The Von Dutch Tribute II exhibit includes many of the artists in the original tribute exhibit, as well as new artists paying homage to the work that inspired them.

Information, (310) 829-2156.

Urban Rays, an art and architectural presentation by the Urban Office of Offensive Architecture (UOOA) project featuring works by Brazilian-born Los Angeles-based photographer Andrea Oliveira, opens with a reception at 6 p.m. Saturday, June 10th, at SPARC (Social and Public Art Resource Center), 685 Venice Blvd., Venice. The exhibit remains on display through Saturday, July 29th.

The project will focus on the homeless paradigm that exists in Los Angeles’s downtown Skid Row where thousands of homeless persons and drug addicts live within a few square blocks.

In SPARC’s main gallery, UOOA will install a room-sized soft-sculpture house, made entirely from material scraps donated by American Apparel’s downtown factory. Using simple knotting and braiding techniques, UOOA creates an artist’s vision of alternative and conceptual housing utilizing resources and methods already existent within the area adjacent to Skid Row, according to SPARC.

UOOA was established in Paris by American architect-in-training and designer Wilber Williams. Its interdisciplinary projects utilize public spaces for art events that comment on marginalization in today’s society.

The project at SPARC examines the cultural identity of urban homeless persons, and alludes to the way that the homeless scavenge locally-accessible materials and transform the materials into new objects, products or environments.

Information, (310) 822-9560.

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