By Barbara Bishop
I’m really excited. I just bought my first piece of original art for my new home. And for me, it was from the most unlikely place. But it was really the perfect place, now that I think about it.
When I first came to Los Angeles, I stayed in a run-down studio apartment in Venice; a friend of a friend’s apartment. I slept on the floor in a sleeping bag, with remnants of beach sand at the bottom of the bag. Kind of depressing; thank god it was for only a weekend.
The highlight of my trip to La La Land was the larger than life, brightly colored, seascape mural on a huge slab of concrete near the beach, created by an artist named Wyland.
Robert Wyland, commonly known as Wyland, is an American artist best known for his 100 Whaling Walls, large outdoor murals featuring images of life-size whales and other sea life.
It represented the free-spirited energy of Los Angeles to me. I knew then I wanted to move here. Seven years later, I did.
As the years went by, I always appreciated the whimsical art of Wyatt; always visiting his galleries in while in Carmel, Laguna Beach, San Francisco, Lake Tahoe or San Diego. Fast forward to last week; it’s been more than 30 years since I first gazed upon Wyland’s concrete, sea-life masterpiece In Venice.
I attended a gallery opening last week for Wyland. Yup, the same guy who painted that huge ocean mural. His first gallery in Santa Monica. On 4th and Broadway, it’s a small place, filled with his work. That night, the space was also filled with fans, friends and family.
The Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce, of which I am a board member, had a ribbon cutting for his new digs. I would not have known about the event if I wasn’t involved in the Chamber.
After the ribbon was cut, Wyland stood at the front door, welcoming guests and taking photos with them. I took my photo with the artist, shook his hand and walked inside the gallery.
I was served a glass of wine; I sipped it slowly as I walked around, admiring his art. His work is very bright, uses lots of color and is always reflective of the ocean and sea life. He also has one of a kind sculptures, mainly dolphins and whales, using many elements, including glass, wood and metals. Prices were clearly out of my range for most of his work.
I wasn’t there to buy anything anyway. None of it would really go with my new apartment. Unlike the place in Venice Beach I crashed at so many years ago, my apartment is a 1920s original architectural stunner, meticulously cared for, for almost 100 years. I furnished it “Vintage Hollywood Glam,” using greys, browns, beiges and silvers, with touches of turquoise. My special nod to the Pacific Ocean. The only thing that was missing was that unique piece of art, filling the spirit of the place.
It was getting pretty hot and crowded in the main room of the gallery. I ducked into a smaller, less populated room with the AC on full blast. I looked around. There were about 6 of his pieces displayed. Nice.
And then, I found my unique, one-of-a-kind, original piece of art.
It was understated, unlike most of his work. Beautifully framed, it was a sketch of a sea turtle swimming up to the top of the sea. The colors were brown, gray, beige and silver. The sea was sketched in turquoise, a color Wyland does not use very often. (He uses a deep blue most of the time.) And it was one of a kind. An original.
I talked myself out of it, saying that I could not afford it, and even if I could, I shouldn’t be spending money on art. I had just begun to enjoy a recovery from the 2008 (for me it was 2009) economic disaster. The piece was under $2,000, but it was hard for me to substantiate the purchase.
I spoke with the gallery representative, who went out of his way to make it affordable for me. I am paying it in payments, with a 10% down payment. And Wyland will sign it. I’ll have it in a couple of months.
It spoke to me. It was the perfect size. The perfect colors. I could feel the energy of the turtle emerging from the sea; taking a deep breath. That sea turtle was me.