Almost Holden Collective Presents: Human Conditioning
Featuring Artists, Lauren D’amato, Spencer Davie and Lisa Mathis
Almost Holden Collective | 2821 Ocean Park Blvd | Santa Monica, CA
By Alexis Murine
Photos By Natasha Dangond
I have been very fortunate to grow up with some very talented and creative individuals, watching their skills develop over time, styles evolve, and techniques refined. One of these great creative minds I’ve had the pleasure of knowing since high school is Lauren D’amato. Her morbidly beautiful subject matter has always spoken volumes to me, and her prowess extends from painting, to illustration, to screen printing, constantly taking on new artistic challenges. So, when I was invited to Almost Holden Collective’s new art exhibition “Human Conditioning”, featuring Lauren, her boyfriend Spencer Davie, and Bay-Area screen printer Lisa Mathis, I knew I couldn’t miss it.
After crawling up the congested freeways to Santa Monica, my friends (including my fantastic photographer Natasha Dangond) and I arrived at the Almost Holden Collective. AHC is a gallery space run by a group of twenty-somethings that were looking for a place to showcase their creativity, hosting a hidden recording studio and screen printing station. Walking in, the main gallery room is long and thin, like most of the patrons present, with complimentary “two-buck-chuck” and homemade AHC cookies on display, appealing to the transitionary adolescents, in front of a blackboard painted wall. Music thumps along to a projector screen playing random collaged images and vintage horror movies in a darkened room to the left, colors bouncing off rows of chairs set in front of Lisa Mathis’ candle-lit tableau.
We were greeted by familiar faces, Lauren sporting all black, electric blue penciled eyebrows, and a felt fedora with a picture of a strange man she and Spencer had met that had recently passed away stuck in the hat’s brim. Spencer wore white Chuck Taylor’s, button down, sweater with a pewter feather pin affixed to the breast, Buddy Holly glasses and freshly bleached and Kool-Aid-ed pale pink hair. Punk sophisticate, both of their specific looks are cultivated and as artfully displayed as were their creations behind them.
Lauren and Spencer had met in an art class at Orange Coast College, and quickly realized their artistic influence on each other. Both styles unique, but similar in aesthetic, they recently created a small book, Murder of Two. As described in their own words:
“This is a compilation of our separate works, an amalgam of science, the occult, and death. We are pursuing the concepts of our relationship, passion for art, and how they have become inexplicably entangled. We have constructed our own tenements of love and death through the empirical, the mystical, and our murder of two.
Spencer’s featured artwork is primarily black and white ink drawings, almost sculptural in the amount of depth and detail achieved in the layers of strokes. Lauren’s are a combination of illustration and screen printing, either digitally colored or painted with watercolors. Both artists show the elegance of darkness, the exaggeration of the human form creating a sense of foreign familiarity, the vivid colors of decay.
Unfortunately Lisa Mathis was unable to attend the opening because of car troubles, so I didn’t have a chance to meet her, but her artwork is complex and very striking in person. Most of the pieces featured were images screen printed onto glass, appearing simple in their complexity, often taking dozens of screen printed layers to achieve a particular image. Lauren had arranged a shrine-like table, with Jesus and George Harrison glowing by the light of veladoras, with more abstract pieces hanging above.
Although Natasha and I have tried, there is no better way to experience Lauren D’amato, Spencer Davie and Lisa Mathis’ art than to see it in person. The “Human Conditioning” show will be running until June 22nd 2013, so if you are in Santa Monica it is a must-see, and the fellows at Almost Holden Collective are very welcoming. I am so proud of my talented friends and cannot wait to see what the next show has in store.