Ron Pippin

I ran into a friend of mine recently in a restaurant, and while greeting her with a kiss on the cheek, I accidentally knocked out a “Bluetooth” earpiece that allows her to answer the phone without touching a phone with her hand. “Oops! My Bluetooth!” she said as it fell in her salad.

I once had swaths of time and space when I wasn’t connected to any one and cell phones were shaped like small refrigerators. Now, I feel like I forgot my foot if I don’t have mine with me. I think about this a lot as I continue to resist the urge to be reachable by email or have access to the internet when I’m not sitting in front of the computer at the end of the day. At my studio, there’s nothing but a radio (okay okay, it’s cable), glass jars, chairs, tables, easels, turpentine, paint, brushes and canvases. That’s it.

I constantly marvel over how technology has integrated itself into our very being making us practically unrecognizable to our prehistoric selves. This was on my mind when I walked into the Obsolete Gallery and discovered, among other treasures, the work of Ron Pippin. There I found an antique canoe with a plastic heart inlaid in resin suspended from the ceiling next to a zebra skull with a piston jutting into it’s jaw beneath a glass museum case.


Burchell Zebra Museum Box, 2005
skeletal taxidermy, mixed media, found objects, wood,
plexi glass 45″L x 13″W x 20″H Ron Pippin
Courtesy Obsolete Gallery

Kimberly Brooks: What do you seek to impart by aesthetic and combination of materials you use in your work?

Ron Pippin: My work is often related to ideas about the relationship of Science, Art, and Nature. My scientific aesthetic is primarily drawn from the 19th Century, when, I feel, science still had a relationship to beautiful forms.


Homage to Ancient Ancestors, 2007
Vintage photograph, mixed media, found objects, test tubes, 9 x 12 in.
Ron Pippin
Courtesy Obsolete Gallery

KB: Is there a moment or experience that set you on a certain path?

RP: As a child I was extremely shy. I discovered that by making pictures I could get attention by having people look at my pictures instead of them focusing their attention on me. In kindergarden my Halloween, Thanksgiving,Christmas and Easter pictures were displayed in the hallway of the elementary school. This you could say was my first exhibition, so the die was cast at a very early age.


Lizard Box
Skeletal Taxidermy, mixed media, found objects.
Ron Pippin Courtesy Obsolete Gallery

KB: Tell me about your process. How do you make art?

RP: My process of working is to reach inside of myself and pull out every shred of willpower and discipline I can find and force myself to be in the studio every day, whether I feel like it or not. When I was in my early 30’s I decided that since life is so short I would make a commitment to making art –I haven’t regretted it one day.

KB: what would you like people to experience when they see your work?

RP: What I hope people take with them after looking at my work is really nothing particularily lofty or mysterious. The work is simply about our humanity and our connections with one another and our world.

Angel of the Rising Sun, 1992
Taxidermy, saddle, mixed media, found objects
78″ x 66″ x 60″
Ron Pippin
Courtesy Obsolete Gallery

Ron Pippin has been a working artist for more than forty years. He has participated in over eighty solo and group shows worldwide and has been prominently featured in leading art world publications. His awards and commissions are numerous and can be found in various permanent collections including the Hirschhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C. His current exhibition at Obsolete, features a forty-year retrospective of select work.

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Liat Yossifor

For everyone living in Southern California right now, the heavy black smoke spewed by the wildfires has thrown the entire region into an altered state. The palette, which is often so bright, has descended into a muted orange grey. Visual anchors that we count on — the sun, the moon, the horizon — look surreal and abnormal. A silent dread building up over years of drought preceded this. But now that it’s here, we are in it. And it’s all-enveloping.

“Tender Among us I”, 62 x 72 in. Oil on Panel. Liat Yossifor

In Liat Yossifor’s latest series of paintings, “The Tender Among Us,” she depicts and captures the thick fog of war and the ambiance of battle scenes. For the majority of Americans who are aggravated by and constantly worrying about the war, but are not serving in it, it remains in the abstract — the gulf between picking up a new package of socks at Target and what it must be like to man a checkpoint in Baghdad post suicide-attack is enormous. Yet gazing at these paintings, especially in person, has a way of wrapping around you and shrinking that gulf.

Kimberly Brooks: What inspired you to make this body of work?

Liat Yossifor: I have been thinking about the romantic landscape of battle scenes as seen throughout art history and the relationship of cinematography in war films to painting. Recently, I have also begun researching various war monuments and their peculiar forms and the way they memorialize war.

Some of my new small paintings and sketches include references to bronze figurative monuments. The paintings serve as a continuation of the sculptural, war-like figurations which are part of a new series of work entitled “The Dawning of an Aspect.”

“Tender Among us II”, 62 x 72 in. Oil on Panel. Liat Yossifor

KB: What is your process of making these paintings?

LY: My paintings are done in one sitting, or, more accurately, are worked on as long as I can keep the same layer of oil paint wet (up to three days for a single painting). The process is fast and focused, especially for large scale paintings. Essentially, I sculpt figure-like elements in a dark palate out of a thick layer of oil paint with quick repetitive brush strokes. This method encourages the viewer to experience the work slowly and panoramically.

“Blue” 72 x 64 in. Oil on Panel. Liat Yossifor

KB: Was there a certain experience or moment that led you to create these works?

LY: Since I began my new series of landscape paintings, I have been completely engrossed in the work of El Greco. Filled with stormy, irrational brush strokes that symbolize conflict even in some of his most quiet pieces, his backgrounds move me. I was especially fascinated by “The View of Toledo.”

“View of Toledo” El Greco 1541-1614

Last month, I saw it at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It was as if the past and present coexisted perfectly at the moment I viewed it. I have had this experience before when seeing a historical piece in person, but this experience was like no other.

KB: What message or mood do you seek to impart to your viewers when they see your work?

“Dusk” 72 x 64 in. Oil on Panel. Liat Yossifor

LY: I feel that my viewers are ultimately faced with the language of painting. There are so many things which I draw from while painting – among others: art history, field photography, and film – and I hope this allows the viewers to relate to the work from a boarder context and to feel a sense of timelessness.

Liat Yossifor graduated with an MFA from the University of California, Irvine, and a BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute. Most recently, in 2007, Yossifor exhibited her new work: in a solo show at the Pomona College Museum of Art entitled “The Tender Among Us,” in a group show at the Torrance Art Museum, and a project show at the Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects entitled “The Dawning of an Aspect.” Previously her work has been shown in solo and two-person exhibitions such as: “Portraits of Yfat” at Angles Gallery, LA; “New Paintings” at Anna Helwing Gallery, LA; “The Black Paintings” at Noga Gallery of Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv, Israel. She has been included in group exhibitions at the Lyman Allyn Museum, New London, CT; Museum of Modern Fine Arts, Minsk, Belarus; New Wight Gallery at UCLA, LA; University of California Gallery, Davis, CA; Claire Trevor School of the Arts Gallery at UCI, Irvine; Occidental College Art Gallery, LA; and Deep River Gallery, LA. She was also included in several art fairs such as Art Basel Miami Beach; the Armory fair in NY; and Art Forum Berlin. Read more about Yossifor in theNY Arts magazine article “Training Ground” by Carrie Paterson.

Liat Yossifor in her studio

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Katherine Guillen

I just got back from New Orleans where I saw but a glimpse of the heartache and devastation that Katrina wrought. And yet, to be an artist is to have a silent fascination with the sight of such decay; with the moldy walls of an abandoned building, the rust on a faded green car or the way a drop of oil slicks over a polluted puddle of water.


When I recently interviewed this week’s First Person Artist, Katherine Gullien, her answers gave that fascination, and my trip to New Orleans, a certain oxygen, and it made me view it, through the prism of her work, in a new way.

Kimberly Brooks: What is the inspiration behind your work?

Katherine Guillen: Mold spread through my garden this year. All it would take was one infected plant leaf to lean on another and soon there would be puffy white spots traveling up the stem. It was both life and death; just as a new development might be at the edge of the desert. The idea haunted me all summer.


Because of the sprawling nature of Los Angeles, I drive a lot. Often as I braced the curve of the off-ramp I have visions of earth being scraped and cut-into in ever deeper spirals. The compulsion we have as a society to create and therefore destroy ourselves has inspired most of my recent paintings.


“Foundations of Sentiment” by Katherine Guillen 20×26 in. Goauche and Transfer on Paper Courtesy Junc Gallery

KB: Tell me about your process of working, any routines that might be curious or exemplify a larger message you are trying to communicate?

KG: I started painting a few years ago. I would sketch very controlled lines and then practically color in my drawings. Then I gave up on sketching and would take notes, sometimes in stick figure simply to remember the idea. Lately I have been trying to push myself to respond more to what I have already put down. The intuitiveness and mystery that comes from thoughts that lay on the other side of my consciousness’ wall seem to present themselves only when they have long silent periods of cajoling and something to hold onto. Many of my favorite pieces have actually come from misinterpretations of a forgotten sketch. That moment when the idea somehow jumps the wall is exactly the reason I make art. Before and after is work, like any other work almost. But finding those moments where everything aligns is definitely what keeps me painting.


Oddly, I have very little art work up in my house. In fact, my walls are white. I think I am so visual that anything (even a little messiness) outside me is easier to latch on to than what I find if I can just get inside my head. I wish there was some solution to this. I almost feel like people must doubt how much I truly like art if I don’t have any up. But it isn’t a matter of like — I almost too sensitive to it — it will just take me over.

Katherine Guillen
is a Los Angeles-based artist whose current exhibition at the Junc Gallery lasts through November. She is featured as an “emerging artist” in the upcoming STEP magazine and she is will also be featured in the Giant Robot-GR2 show in February. Prints and publications can also be found at


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