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BIG COUNTRY #17 copy.jpg

David McDonald, Big Country #17, 2024

Hydrocal, Plaster Wrap, Liquid Watercolor, Sand, Cold Wax Medium

8 x 13 x 7.5 inches


Kim Schoenstadt, No Laughing Series: Time Marks and Interruptions, 2024 Acrylic paint and hand embroidery on Belgian Linen

12.5 x 20 x 1 inches

Kim Schoenstadt and David McDonald

Non-Linear Differential Equations and Boundary Value Problems


Opening Saturday, August 3rd, 4-7pm

Closing Reception Saturday September 14th, 5-7pm

(Closed August 28-31)

Los Angeles artists David McDonald and Kim Schoenstadt have both produced recent works that examine the relationship of color to form. Where the color is not applied over the surface as a final step, but rather is deeply intrinsic to the objects. The colors and forms define each other equally, there is no clear indication of which came first. Their respective sculptures (McDonald) and paintings (Schoenstadt) offer a cavalcade of evidence making color feel like a raw physical ore, a medium unto itself. In doing so they prompt discussion on how perspective can influence perception.

McDonald’s new series of sculptures are aptly titled Big Country, in that despite their modest size they engage with expansive discourses. His process of making them is inseparable from the ideas embedded in the works. Playwright Edward Albee, a longtime supporter and collector of McDonald’s work, noted “Really fine sculpture takes us beyond the “facts” of the material – metal, wood, whatever – into metaphor. It takes us beyond the concrete (no pun intended) into the implied….” Writer and collector Geoff Tuck further observed McDonald's process “requires deliberate focus and awareness of a world of possibilities before one makes three or four simple choices.” McDonald mixes pigments into Hydrocal, the shapes he then casts are fleeting. Ephemeral forms existing only briefly as cavities in a large sand tray. He has worked with these materials for years and knows them intimately. This process purposely allows for a collaboration with entropy. McDonald builds in ample and essential moments for chance to effect the outcome. After casting, the pigments can take days to fully settle. Furthermore, he will frequently continue to refine them. These objects are fully imbued with color, the hues visible on the surface run to the core. He is able to sand elements down or saw them into parts and retain the same shades, often melding these sections into new wholes.


Over time there is an ebb and flow between autonomy and disorder, requiring a consistent stream of slight adjustments to course, reactions to each unexpected change. McDonald likes to refer to a thought from an early 19th century Japanese text, The Book of Tea, which reads “The truth lies in the comprehension of opposites.”

Kim Schoenstadt also spends great deals of time meticulously researching materials to then be able to let chance play a role. She carefully studies the weave and thickness of countless linen options to see how they will accept paint and stitching. She has recipe books kept with a chemist’s precision, noting paint mixtures for particular results. Her new paintings are constructed more like sculptures. These works combine three elements. Acrylic paint is applied in two ways: first as a stain, then as cut collaged strips, she then incorporates hand-embroidered lines in the form of text and shapes into the compositions as well. With her carefully stained swaths of color, like Pat Steir, Hermann Nitsch, or Helen Frankenthaler, there is a blend of confidence in application technique and in the physics of liquid behaving in expected and unexpected ways, they are controlled experiments. She balances this ceding of control to fluid properties through the addition of the labor-intensive stitched elements, as well as the thick strips of impasto color collaged on. This heavier color is first pushed and shaped over glass, coerced to the right proportions, then peeled off and cut into the desired form, opposite in both texture and fabrication to the stained elements. This material contrast in how the works are first engineered is essential to these pieces.

Schoenstadt’s deep engagement with influential Modernist architect Eileen Gray has been an ongoing aspect of her oeuvre and the new paintings incorporate references from Gray’s life, working method, and imagination. Schoenstadt sees parallels between personal and global events in Gray’s time and ours –pandemic, unrest, migration, fear of 'otherness,’ censorship and book banning… “people trying to control other people by controlling what ideas they're exposed to.” While not unknown, many of Gray’s achievements have been overlooked, and are still due greater attention. Her work was literally concealed and defaced by Le Corbusier. Schoenstadt’s works reference specific Gray designs from textiles, murals, furniture, or architectural features. They also include Schoenstadt’s own compositional elements, and are constructed using widely different color palettes. The allusions all seem waiting in plain sight to be observed in these paintings, obvious to those familiar with Gray’s designs yet compositionally interesting to those who are not. Paralleling Gray’s larger historical legacy, one only needs to be aware of her work to then see its broad influence in the world.


She explains that “One of the things I find really interesting was her indomitable spirit. She was sidelined as a woman, an architect, an artist, and a designer. She had no rules because nobody cared. So she was constantly pushing, constantly doing projects for a ‘location unknown and client unknown.’ Eileen was confronting a lot of contemporary issues of science, of literature, of what was happening around her. Throughout her projects, including the famed E-1027 house, she literally embedded words and symbols throughout.” Kim’s Morse Code series of paintings grew from thinking about how Gray’s use of signs, symbols and codes provided a path to address urgent topics she could not broach otherwise. Schoenstadt altered a basic running stitch into dots and dashes, exchanging length for time to embroider messages directly onto her works, expressing political opinions in stitched Morse code. Smaller fragments of thick paint in these pieces are carefully and asymmetrically placed to act as irritants or misdirections.


Throughout Schoenstadt’s work constructed elements like the embroidery and paint interact with looser organic stains. Ideas of boundaries come into play as symbols, referential shapes, and coded messages become part of the porous interplay of materials and concepts, ultimately clarifying one another.


Every object has a color, yet colors themselves don’t exist independently, only an aspect of reflected light. They rest in our imagination within a category that hovers between the palpable world and intangible realm of ideas. Like when a slight movement of muscles in the voice box turns a thought into an audible sound wave in the world, these artists prompt moments where the physical and abstract brush.


McDonald and Schoenstadt materialize artworks that pull color into a fixed state.


Kim Schoenstadt was born in Chicago, Il. and currently lives in Venice, CA. She received a BA from Pitzer College, Claremont, CA.

One-person exhibitions include Perez Art Museum, Miami; Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY; Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, NL; Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, CT; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, DC; Santa Monica Museum of Art, Santa Monica; Utah Museum of Contemporary Art, Salt Lake City; Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, LA; Susan Inglett Gallery, NY; Sabine Knust Gallery, Munich, Germany; Chimento Contemporary, LA; and M29 Richter & Bruckner Gallery, Koln, Germany.


Group exhibitions include the Prague Biennale, Prague, CR: Poland Biennale, Lodz, PL; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Sprueth/Magers Gallery, Munich, Germany; LA Louver Gallery, Los Angeles; International Print Center, NY; Over The Influence, LA; Getty Center, LA; Wattis Institute for Contemporary Art, SF; and Institute of Contemporary Arts, London.


Her work is held in the permanent collections of institutions such as the Hammer Museum, LA; LACMA, LA; MOCA, LA; MOMA, NY; MCA, Chicago; and Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, NL.


David McDonald was born in Liverpool, England, and then had a nomadic childhood. His family moved to Venezuela, back to England, to Canada, to Brazil, and back to Venezuela, before he moved to the US to attend Boston University. After graduating he enrolled at the Museum School in Boston and began his engagement with art. He went on to earn an MFA from CalArts in 1992. After which he lived in Topanga Canyon for 16 years, during which time he began regularly exhibiting in Los Angeles, NY, Boston, Santa Fe, and San Francisco.


He has received multiple awards and grants, including: a Guggenheim Fellowship (2013); Pollack Krasner Grants (twice, 2023 and 2006); Skylark (2008); Montello Foundation (2019); and from the City of Santa Monica (2012). On the Guggenheim Fellowship he traveled to Japan and participated in a traditional silent zen retreat in South Korea. He has pursued a practice of Zen Buddhism since the 90’s that has continued to the present. He currently serves as a Senior Teacher and Abbot at the Dharma Zen Center in LA.


McDonald’s work has been reviewed in the The New Yorker; the LA Times; the Wall Street Journal; LA Weekly; Boston Globe; among other publications. He has taught at USC; Cal State Long Beach; New Roads School; and the Veterans Administration. His first solo gallery exhibition in LA was with Thomas Solomon’s Garage, and more recently his work has been presented at Five Car Garage, PRJKT LA, and Ochi. He’s also had recent solo exhibitions with 5. Gallery, Santa Fe, and David B. Smith, Denver. And has had work on view with exhibitions 2d in Marfa. In the Spring of 2024 he had a two-artist exhibition at Satchel Projects, NY and will have another in the Fall of 2024 at Goat Gallery, Landers, CA.

Kim Schoenstadt 

No Laughing Series: 30, 2023

Acrylic and hand embroidery on Belgian Linen 26 x 26 x 1.5 inches

David McDonald

Big Country #15, 2024 

Hydrocal, Plaster Wrap, Liquid Watercolor, Sand, Cold Wax Medium

6 x 9 x 7 inches

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