Stella Im Hultberg was born in South Korea, raised in Seoul, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and later in California. She studied Industrial Design and worked as a product designer before serendipitously falling into the art world in late 2005.
Hultberg’s paintings are conceived in varying combinations of ink, watercolor, and oils on paper, wood and canvas. Her lyrical depictions of women combine decorative elements and graphic patterns, melding the figurative with the illustrative and a looser more painterly component. Ever present, this tension between the gestural and the controlled describe space in her dynamic compositions. Her palettes tend towards the monochromatic, moody and dark, but are punctuated by moments of contrast and vibrancy.
Her mannered figurative style, both elegant and selectively awkward, is at times reminiscent of early 20th century artists like Egon Schiele, Aubrey Beardsley or Gustav Klimt. Though beautiful, her figures are strangely displaced, subtly distorted, and at times melancholically encumbered with ornamentation, as seen in a recent series in which her nudes are laden with heavy blooms. Darkly beautiful, Hultberg’s feminine imaginary is an ambiguous terrain of melancholic desire.
Having grown up in Hong Kong, Korea and Taiwan, she has a diverse blend of cultural influences to pull from. After a decade in NYC, she now lives (and works) in Portland OR with her daughter and husband.
Thank you to all those who came to the opening reception of Brian Viveros’s “Tougher Than Leather” and Ken Flewellyn’s “SHINE” last weekend. The gallery was packed to the brim with art lovers, and Viveros had a never-ending line of fans waiting to share their love of his work with him. He was signing books, posters, and taking pictures – overjoyed by the response to the work. Flewellyn’s second solo with the gallery, “SHINE” was a great pairing to Viversos’s “Tougher Than Leather” with a collaborative piece by the artists acting as the cherry on an already great show.
Anaheim Convention Center 800 W. Katella Ave, Anaheim, CA 92802
For 14 years, DesignerCon has been a destination for designer toy brands, collectible artists and the people who love them, hosting world-renowned brands like MEDICOM, KidRobot, Mighty Jaxx, and Giant Robot. Now, for the first time ever, the convention will have a traditional art space dedicated to the lowbrow, pop surrealist and outsider art movements that flourished in Southern California. On the heels of Littletopia that drew crowds at the LA Art Show, Beyond Eden is spearheaded by Thinkspace Projects founder Andrew Hosner, as a way to connect DesignerCon attendees directly to the larger art world. Many artists who are prominent in the designer toy realm also have thriving fine art careers. Most notable at the moment is KAWS, who is best known for his OriginalFake series of vinyl toys, but recently made a $14 million sale of one of his museum-quality artworks.
The addition of Beyond Eden to Designercon is perfect for the evolution the convention has been undergoing for the past several years. Many avid fine art collectors actually get their start collecting designer toys—something that Designercon founder Ben Goretksy can attest to, personally.
Picking up where Greg Escalante’s Littletopia left off, Hosner’s Beyond Eden will be exhibiting many of the artists DCON attendees already know and love, plus the galleries who rep them, and other artists in their repertoire.
The inaugural archway welcoming attendees into the new section will be designed by Carlos Ramirez, formerly of The Date Farmers artist collective. The Date Farmers were a collaboration of artists Carlos Ramirez and Armando Lerma, best known for paintings and assemblages steeped in California’s Mexican-American experience, referencing street art, posters of the Mexican Revolution, and popular tropes of Hollywood and the media.
Galleries that will be part of this year’s programming include:
Founded in 2005, Thinkspace has garnered an international reputation as one of the most active and productive exponents of the New Contemporary Art Movement. Maintaining its founding commitment to the promotion and support of its artists, Thinkspace has steadily expanded its roster and diversified its projects, creating collaborative and institutional opportunities all over the world. Founded in the spirit of forging recognition for young, emerging, and lesser-known talents, the gallery is now home to artists from all over the world, ranging from the emerging, mid-career, and established.
La Luz De Jesus
Established in 1986 La Luz de Jesus Gallery is the brainchild of entrepreneur and art collector Billy Shire, considered primarily responsible for fostering a new school of California art and prompting JUXTAPOZ Magazine to dub him “the Peggy Guggenheim of Lowbrow.” Showcasing mainly figurative, narrative paintings and unusual sculpture, the exhibitions are post-pop with content ranging from folk to outsider to religious to sexually deviant. The gallery’s objective is to bring underground art and counter-culture to the masses. Past shows have been groundbreaking, exhibiting artists, such as Manuel Ocampo, Joe Coleman, and Robert Williams.
One of Los Angeles’ premier art galleries specializing in contemporary pop surrealism, new contemporary, and street art. KP Projects is home to several of the most significant artists working today. The gallery’s focus is to continually champion emerging and mid-career artists who push beyond the boundaries of formal definition.
Dark Art Emporium
The Dark Art Emporium is located in Long Beach, CA close to Los Angeles and Orange County in Southern California.The Dark Art Emporium is host to a variety of unique art pieces which would not normally be seen in an art gallery including taxidermy, oddities, strange photography, etc.
Modern Eden Gallery
Modern Eden is located in San Francisco’s historic North Beach neighborhood. Established in June 2010 by local artists Bradley Platz and Kim Larson, the gallery regularly exhibits new works of representational painting and sculpture. Our aesthetic ranges from realism to surrealism, with a program that focuses on elevating Bay-Area artists in the global art market through the sophisticated use of digital channels and the organization of groundbreaking exhibitions.
Tierra Del Sol Foundation
A strong and vibrant community is one in which all of its members contribute to the strengths and assets for the common good. Tierra’s mission is to empower people with disabilities to fulfill their potential and desire to become productive citizens who are accepted, included and valued for the contributions they make to the economic, civic, and cultural vitality of the community. We are actively working towards the day when people with any type of disability are fully recognized as an integral part of our community – as neighbors, co-workers, and contributors.
The 2019 DesignerCon will be held at the Anaheim Convention Center on November 22 – 24, 2019. The
convention center is located at 800 W. Katella Ave, Anaheim, CA 92802.
More will be announced as details are confirmed.
Founded in 2005 by Ben Goretsky, DesignerCon brings together artists, manufacturers, distributors, and
retailers in the designer toy / vinyl collectibles market and has grown to incorporate everything in the
design world including apparel, plush, printing, sculpture, designer toys, and both fine and urban art. The
steady growth DesignerCon has enjoyed correlates with its popularity in today’s art nerd, geek culture;
collectors and designer toy lovers alike wait through the night for new releases, pre-orders for new artist
collaboration apparel are sold out within minutes, and artists use the convention as an opportunity to
announce exclusive releases and collaborations. www.designercon.com
Galleries that will be part of this year’s programming include:
Thinkspace is pleased to present Tougher Than Leather our fifth solo-exhibition with Brian M. Viveros. The dynamic show will present some of Viveros’s largest and most accomplished paintings to date. His phenomenally detailed and hyper-realistic paintings create a world that is a complete universe unto itself.
In anticipation of Tougher Than Leather, our interview with Brian M. Viveros discusses his new body of work, best place to get tacos, and some solid life advise.
SH: We have some solid interviews with you for past exhibitions, Matador and Dirtyland, but for those that are not familiar with you and your work, can you give us a brief look at your artistic background and zodiac sign?
BV: Sure, my name is Brian M. Viveros. My art is rooted in a world introduced to me by my father, who was always drawing, he showed me Frazetta, fantasy art, Conan the Barbarian comics and took me to wrestling and boxing matches as a kid. Pretty much everything he introduced me to would later play out in my paintings, becoming aesthetic components for the ‘Dirtyland’ world I’ve created today. I have no formal art training, I didn’t go to art school, but all of these components from my childhood have shaped me as an artist – my childhood fixations, my open mindedness to fantasy, and my Hispanic upbringing. When I decided to pursue the fine art thing with paintings of these kick-ass Woman of Power, using all of these elements that I surrounded myself and grew up with, things just came together.
My Zodiac killer sign is SCORPIO.
SH: What is the inspiration and themes you explored for this body of work?
BM: The show is titled ‘Tougher Than Leather,’ featuring a new body of work that is very personal to me. I’d been through a lot these past couple years losing my father, my grandmother and my dog. I wanted to do something that was dedicated to the fighter in all of us, inspired by those that are fighting for their lives, fighting inner demons and fighting cancer. This new body of work took me into new directions with themes of battle, new warriors and it’s my first time presenting elements from my world as their’ own piece like ‘Sacred Gloves’ which is a detailed rendering of boxing gloves that form an anatomical heart wrapped in rose thorns.
SH: Is there a particular piece in this exhibition you feel really challenged you? If so, why and what makes you proud of this piece.
BV: I think I’m gonna have to say the most challenging piece is the large-scale bullfighting piece entitled ‘Tame The Beast’ which features my iconic matador in battle with a raging bull. I’m very proud of this piece on so many levels because it has pushed me beyond the normal portraiture format I’m used to, it allowed me to create this full epic scene I’ve had in mind for some time now. I’m proud to see this piece come to life.
SH: Who are some of your favorite artists in the scene, or in a different medium altogether?
BV: I dig what Michael Reeder’s doing and his use of color and shapes. I dig what my homie Dan Quintana is doing, he’s always inspiring to me and I’m diggin’ Ken Flewellyn’s new set of work for this show, he KILLED IT!
SH:A Netflix movie is being made about your life, who would be cast to play you and what kind of movie would it be? Try to describe it with similar movies.
BV: Hmmm, I can’t see a real person playing me but I like this question. I like the idea of a film about me being a stop motion animation in the style of the Brothers Quay films, mixed with a touch of some live action. It would be a super surreal visual journey of a little kid exploring his artistic life and mind, going through different doors in his head; a combination of Alejandro Jodorowsky’s ‘The Holy Mountain’ and Pink Floyd’s ‘The Wall’ on acid HA!
SH:What is the best technical advice you’ve received in regards to painting / being an artist? What is the best philosophical advice you’ve received?
BV: My father always told me to work hard for what you want and believe in what you’re doing. Even when others doubt you and don’t believe in you, you must always believe in yourself. He would also say “create your own worlds” and I always liked that. I also love this advice from Andy Warhol, “Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.” That always drives me to just focus and not worry about what’s going on out in the real world.
SH: Are you a podcast, tv/ movie streaming service, or music in the background type of painter? What were you listening to during the development of this show that you would recommend to others?
BV: Both! I like to play movies and music at the same time. I like sounds, I like noise, I like things turned on. While working on this show I was listening to a lot of the new Tool album, some old DJ Shadow stuff, the first Interpol album, The Cactus Channel, some Ravel, classical and some weird underground sounds my friend sent to me. Podcasts I’ve been digging are Joe Rogan, The Lonely Palette, Chet Zar’s Dark Art Society, and Grilling JR that’s a wrestling one HA!
SH: What do you think the role of artists in society? How does other artwork inform how you move through life?
BV: Through art we are connected and united, through art we are free and not alone. Through the experience of being an artist, inspiration comes from everything and other artists all the time. It’s like a constant need or an addiction to create and want more and see more. It helps you to grow and keeps me inspired.
SH:What is the coolest or most exciting thing to happen to you thus far in life and is it because of or connected to your work?
BV: The most exciting thing to happen thus far is connected to my art, it happened after my first solo exhibition in Switzerland back in 2005. It will always be and remain, the most surreal magical day of my life, being invited to spend the day with my favorite artist H.R. Giger in his home in Zurich. To this day I still can’t believe that happened. He was so nice, we traded prints and I got to sit in the alien chair and see everything in person that I had only seen in books as a kid. It will always be something very special to me and a day I will never forget.
SH: Fun Hypothetical: A world-renowned chef wants to make a dish inspired by your artwork and favorite food. What would be the dishes ingredients and what is it similar too?
BV: HA! That’s a good one! Probably would have to be a taco, everyone knows my deep love for tacos so here it is ‘The DirtyTaco.’ It would be simple and tasty carnitas because I love me some good carnitas and you don’t need a lot for a good taco. It would taste like the tacos from SALUD! in San Diego, made with homemade tortillas. As a variation, we could serve a taco salad, with a crispy taco shell helmet like in my paintings. HA! I think I just jumped the shark with that one HAHA!!
Join us for the opening of Tougher Than Leather Saturday, October 12th from 6 – 9 pm.
On view concurrently in the Thinkspace project
room is Shine, featuring new works
by Los Angeles based artist, and Thinkspace family veteran, Ken Flewellyn. A
realist painter fascinated by the intersection of diverse cultures, personal
histories, and Hip Hop, Flewellyn creates portraits of women that challenge our
assumptions about identity and cultural homogeneity.
Inspired by his lifelong love of Hip Hop and
his coming of age as a boy during its golden age in the 80s, Flewellyn’s work
has always been about music and its impact on his personal vantage point and
outlook on the world. As a cultural form, Hip Hop emerged from a localized
cultural moment only to evolve into a variegated and international form that
would systemically embrace the freedom of appropriation, and the complexity of
multiple voices. This idea of cultural heterogeneity has influenced recurring
themes in his imagery and has shaped his belief in the positive power of
Borrowing motifs and inspiration from Japanese
culture and aesthetics, a visual influence in his home since childhood,
Flewellyn often depicts women in traditional Japanese garb, silks, and kimonos.
The subjects, however, remain anonymous, visible only by hands, body, and
gestures, seldom, if ever, are faces or individuals revealed in their entirety.
The subject’s identity, as a result, is relayed by the presence of revelatory
objects, tattoos, and accessories – external clues that point to something
beyond the seen and allow for the aesthetic to prevail over individuation or
the distraction of specificity. That being said, however, Flewellyn depicts
real women based on actual people – friends, and strangers – anchoring his
imagery in reality rather than unrealistic idealizations.
The juxtaposition of formal cultural garb and pop-cultural accouterments keeps the work fascinating. These tightly cropped compositions are always informed by the presence of Hip Hop imagery, whether in the form of boom boxes, tapes, gold chains or typography. Playful and energized with tactility and detail, they’re both sensual and contemporary – solemn and light. Each painting featured in Shine is adorned with the sumptuousness of gold and includes hidden Hip Hop references to its golden age throughout, all as an ode to the genre that has never lost its shine.