Bergamot’s autumn open house taps fashion, literature and the subconscious

By Christina Campodonico

Yvette Brown’s “Natalie” is among the dreamlike visions on display at Lois Lambert Gallery

You could say staring at Yvette Brown’s paintings is like looking into a dream. Her suspended figures, usually painted on multiple canvases and wrapped in layers and layers of free-flowing robes, look like they are caught in the matrix of some reverie. In this dreamland, they could be falling from the sky, or floating in a deep abyss.

“I create images that tap into the rich vein that lies between our dreams of flying and our nightmares of falling out of control,” writes Brown in her artist statement for the show “With or Without External Forces.” “Is a figure filled with the elation of soaring? Or is there a violence bubbling just beneath the veneer of beauty?”

You can ponder that question and more this Saturday during Bergamot’s Fall Open, when Lois Lambert Gallery (Suite E3) fêtes Brown and her work starting at 4 p.m. Neighboring galleries also open their doors from 4 to 8 p.m. for this autumn showcase of everything newly and currently on display at the storied Santa Monica arts center.

Peter Fetterman Gallery (Suite A1) is also tackling the contours of the human form in “The Fashion Show,” a collection of rare and vintage fashion photographs spanning the 1930s to the 2000s. Some beauts include a Norman Parkinson photo of Audrey Hepburn ensconced by a towering wall of pink flowers (taken during a Glamour magazine cover shoot) and a gorgeous but not-entirely-safe-for-work William Claxton photo of Peggy Moffitt modeling Rudi Gernreich’s infamous monokini (aka the topless swimsuit).

But by and large, the collection’s photos (the majority from the ’30s, ’40s, ‘50s and ’60s) recall a more discrete time, when sex was merely hinted at through fashion (perhaps a suggestive pose) and glamor was supreme. Photos of well-dressed women moving through New York, Paris, Florence and London are an elegant escape into a bygone era and will be a treat for anyone who appreciates high fashion and vintage photography.

Ikon Ltd. (Suite D3) also invites gallery-goers to step into the past with a showcase of artist-writer Harland Miller’s images inspired by Penguin Books’ classic covers, starting at 5 p.m. The British-born text artist is known for riffing on the covers’ iconic orange-and-white palette (which usually bares a very serious literary title) with witty and sardonic headings of his own, such as “Who Cares Wins” and “I’ll Never Forget What I Can’t Remember.”

“I love it as a color field,” Miller told UK’s Flux magazine. “If you look at a lot of Rothko, when he got into the maroon phase he was dealing with a lot of oranges. … There is a Rothko which is essentially a Penguin book … the same format, the orange-white-orange, just without the graphic furniture.”

William Turner Gallery’s (Suite E1) exhibition of Greg Miller’s new work in “West Wind” also riffs upon another type of literature: pulp fiction. Miller’s densely collaged works featuring women lounging, swimming and contemplating recall the covers of the sensationalist genre as well as mid-20th century advertising and glossy magazines.

Bergamot Fall Open is your last chance to see “West Wind” (the closing reception starts at 5 p.m.), but the rest and many more will be on view throughout the fall. Plus the surrealist-driven Copro Gallery (Suite T5) throws an after party for its eclectic bunch of artists from 8 to 11 p.m.

Bergamot Fall Open happens from 4 to 8 p.m. at various galleries within Bergamot, 2525 Michigan Ave., Santa Monica. Free. Visit visitbergamot.com for the full list of participants.

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