By Michael Aushenker
When TAG Gallery in Santa Monica showcases a trio at its latest art exhibit, two out of three of the creators at the Bergamot Station co-operative will hail from Mar Vista: Lorraine Bubar and Pam Douglas. Bubar and Douglas, along with Pasadena’s Katie Crown, will celebrate the trifecta of new works at a Saturday, Sept. 7 reception at 6 p.m.
“I love having a deadline,” said Bubar, who will enjoy her third solo show as a TAG member.
Retired from working with middle and high schoolers at Mar Vista’s Windward School after teaching art for 12 years, Bubar now devotes her time to creating art and traveling the world with her husband, Ron Fine.
Bubar and Fine, who have two daughters, have been all over – the Joshua Tree desert, the Sierras, Costa Rica, even Antarctica. The ecosystems and fauna and flora from these varied environments, as well as trips to Asian countries such as Japan, China, India and Malaysia, have directly influenced the 12 fragile, layered paper works she will have on display at the exhibit.
“They look like color block prints, but they’re cut out of paper,” she said of her art.
“So many cultures do paper cutting,” she continued, noting the Asian countries as well as Eastern European Jewry where “paper cuts were used to mark (life cycles).”
Bubar’s goal has been to “elevate the craft into a more painterly way.”
In addition to these far-off lands, Bubar has drawn inspiration from her own neighborhood, namely what she says is the second largest community garden in Los Angeles, the Mar Vista Community Garden.
“It’s an amazing place,” she said.
For the past 28 years, Bubar, a former commercial animation artist and an avid runner, has enjoyed the mix of creative people and working class in the community.
“The whole Westside is attracting more creative people,” she said.
Douglas said she has seen “newcomers come in; young families with children, professionals who are well off” and occupy the post-war houses around her block.
“It’s a great location, with access to things and nice air quality from being so close to the ocean,” Bubar said.
“It seems anachronistic to be in this community,” Douglas added. “It’s like we were going back in time. This is an extremely traditional street with lovely single-family homes. When we first moved in, some little ice cream truck came out; it felt like ‘Leave It to Beaver.’”
Like Douglas, Bubar appreciates Mar Vista’s proximity to Bergamot – about 15 minutes away by car.
“I’ve really enjoyed being a part of TAG,” she said. “It’s actually a very supportive and diverse group. We run the gallery, hired the director, and we each had to contribute a certain amount of time together.”
From her days working at special effects firms such as West Indigo, Bubar said she has carried over the “graphic element” into her work. Also, “there’s always movement in my piece (and) my appreciation of craftsmanship. As everything goes more toward computers, I really want to emphasize a hand-crafted aesthetic.”
Douglas, on the other hand, does not see a concrete connection between her art and her screenwriting.
For the past 20 years, Douglas, a professor, has taught screenwriting at the USC School of Cinematic Arts. The author of “Writing the TV Drama Series” and the upcoming 2014 tome “The Future of Television,” Douglas has received Emmy nominations and Writer’s Guild Awards for her dramatic scripts for episodic television and television movies such as “Between Mother and Daughter,” which won the Humanitas prize. But her best known work, she conceded, may be her episode of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” (“Night Terrors”), of which she is not as proud.
For Douglas, the fine arts have always been “my mistress, not my wife.” While writing has been her bread and butter, the Vassar College and Columbia University alum said she finds more freedom painting.
“The way I paint is exploration, discovery and surprise,” she said. “The industry is a very focused type of work where you have to deliver on deadline. You’re communicating to a public through a filter (via) the production process (where) so many crafts are involved.”
Titled The Life of Air, Douglas’ portion of the show beginning Sept. 7 closes out a trilogy comprised of her 2011 TAG show The Life of Water and 2012’s The Life of Fire. Whereas she had employed raw linen and transparent plastics, respectively, in her previous series, this time around, Douglas turned to silk with its “porousness and ephemeral nature.”
“The paint and ink set on it in a very delicate way,” she said.
With the support of John Spencer, a space architect and founder and president of the Space Tourism Society, Douglas said she has found the piece of mind to create when she is not teaching. Whether it’s painting in her home studio or in her backyard art space, Douglas divines her muse at her Mar Vista environs.
“I’m surrounded by very talented, creative people,” she said, including her singer-songwriter daughter, Raya Yarbrough.
TAG Gallery is at Bergamot Station, D-3, 2525 Michigan Ave., Santa Monica.
Information, taggallery.net; lorrainebubar.com; pamdouglasart.com.