Sculptor, painter and Santa Monica Art Studios co-founder Yossi Govrin is a very busy man

By Kathy Leonardo
“Be careful!” exclaims Santa Monica Art Studios co-founder Yossi Govrin as a new exhibit is loaded in.

He, co-director Sherry Frumkin and their staff oversee each exhibition at the 22,000-square-foot converted airport as well as manage the complex’s 35 artist studios. But for Govrin, that’s a side gig.

Over the past 35 years, Govrin has also won acclaim as a sculptor, painter and mixed media artist, earning commissions for Hollywood films and historic national memorials alike.

Govrin’s notable commissions include a bronze monument for late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, which stands outside Tel Aviv City Hall in Rabin Square, the site of his 1995 assassination. Locally, his work includes the bronze Donald Douglas monument at the Santa Monica Airport

With fellow artist and girlfriend Krista Augius, Govrin created works commissioned for the set of “Iron Man III,” including a 20’-by-14’ sculpture suspended by a one-ton ring as well as three figurative sculptures in the movie.

The De Re Gallery on Melrose Avenue currently features Govrin’s “Blue Torso” sculpture, featured in “Fast & Furious 7.”

He and Augius also created a bronze hand of Joe Walsh that was privately commissioned by the Eagles guitarist. The couple has also exhibited together, creating art installations that feature interactive environments with sculptures, chandeliers, mirrors, and paintings.

Their celebrated Night Watch series of figurative sculptures is a collaborative effort involving hemp and cement. The installation debuted at established art fairs such as Art Market San Francisco and the LA Art Show.

“It is hard to split my time between being an artist and all the work I’m doing at the studios since we host so many events,” Govrin said.

But he isn’t the type to drill down on any single effort at the expense of other opportunities. Instead, Govrin finds it best to work on multiple projects at the same time.

“I like to work on four different media at the same time: bronze sculptures, hemp-and-cement sculptures, paintings, and prints, as they are all related,” he said.

Govrin also shows his own work. He and Augius will be featured among more than 30 artists in a new Santa Monica Art Studios exhibit that opens
on Saturday.

Also opening that day — in Arena 1, a smaller gallery housed within Santa Monica Art Studios — is an international exhibition titled  “KachoFugetsu: Flower Bird Wind Moon.”

Curated by Kio Griffith, this curatorial international exchange project features more than 40 established or emerging Japanese artists.

Govrin invited Griffith to show at Santa Monica Art Studios after bringing some of his own work to Japan.

“I recently had a show in Japan that raised my curiosity about exhibiting Japanese works,” explained Govrin. “Asian artists have proven to be very playful, meaningful, and artistic as well as technically well executed. The Japan show at Arena 1 Gallery is an exciting opportunity to show contemporary Japanese artists and their different styles. Most of the artists or their works are coming from Japan to participate.”

Griffith, who was born in Japan, is also an artist and has been a curator since 2003. When organizing a new exhibition, he explained that he tries not to approach it with preconceived ideas or expectations.

“It’s more exciting for me to find out how two unrelated works of art can exist in the same space,” Griffith said. “The people [at Santa Monica Art Studios] are very friendly and open to new ideas.

Govrin and Griffith have collaborated previously.

“Yossi has a keen sense of capturing the uncanny moment in his cinematic sculptures,” Griffith said.

* * * * *

The new exhibit at Santa Monica Art Studios opens from 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday at 3026 Airport Ave., Santa Monica. Call (310) 397-7449 or visit

 See Govrin’s “Blue Torso” sculpture, featured in “Fast & Furious 7,” through June 19 at De Re Gallery, 8920 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood. Call (310) 205-7959 or visit

 To find out more about Yossi Govrin, visit