If you like to giggle, come with me to a magical kingdom hidden at the end of a long cul-de-sac, and discover the startling, creative ideas inhabiting people’s minds. You might feel wonderment, astonishment, even sadness or confusion, but it’s guaranteed to be an adventure.
We’ll enter the huge white-walled inner spaces of Bergamot Station — a collection of more than 30 galleries presenting unique artistry that surprises and shocks.
When I last visited, I erupted with giggles at the huge ribbons of wood in happy colors that wiggled and swirled across the room. They were so silly I couldn’t stop smiling. I asked the receptionist what the artist, Patrick Nickell, was like, and she said, “Oh, he’s really a funny guy.”
I thought so. Standing there, I imagined those shapes locked up inside his brain before he sawed, hammered and painted, then let them loose to skip across walls and floors.
Another gallery, not yet assembled, had giant canvases with dribbles and drabbles of every conceivable color that looked like paintings by a drunken gorilla — a very happy one.
Then, I entered the funhouse of Koji Takei, with chairs flattened against walls, musical instruments reassembled into strange conglomerations, and lopsided, distorted objects found only in dreams, perhaps nightmares.
“We’re All Doomed,” was Cameron Gray’s strange title for a series of enormous pictures looking like bright blotches of sunflowers. But up close, I was shocked to discover that each was ominously composed of tiny, one-inch squares of guns, skulls, babies and tanks.
I walked away confused by the dichotomy. Sometimes it’s best not to look too closely into someone’s brain.
Moving on, I marveled at Kate Harding’s mind. How could she think of sewing together scraps of earth-toned leather jackets?
There were zippers, snaps and pockets, but you’d never guess, because at a distance, they appeared like leaves on trees, and other gifts of nature.
The Gallery of Functional Art had enchanting creations of chairs and couches made of corks, nickels and glass jars — they were actually comfortable — especially the squishy ones of cork. There were clocks with second hands tipped with feathers, bowls made of buttons, and placemats of smooth, shiny pebbles.
If you become saturated with all the creativity, you can head over to the tree-shaded outdoor cafe for coffee or a bowl of homemade soup, look at the others sitting under umbrellas, and wonder what’s inside their brains.
Did you ever have a teacher who said, “You can’t paint an elephant purple”? After visiting Bergamot Station, you’ll realize that elephants can be polka-dotted, striped, flowered, or anything else a mind can imagine. Your creation might even end up in a gallery.
The Bergamot Station gallery complex is at 2525 Michigan Ave., Santa Monica.
Most galleries are open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturday.
Artists mentioned: Patrick Nickell, Rosamund Felsen Gallery (B4); Koji Takei, Robert Berman Gallery (D5); Cameron Gray, Robert Berman Gallery (C2).