October 19, 2021 #1 Local News, Forum, Information and Event Source for Venice Beach, California.

Artist Melanie Daniel pieces together radically different cultures

Drawing from her experiences living in Israel for the past 20 years – seven of which she has spent in the mixed Arab-Jewish city of Jaffa – Canadian-born artist Melanie Daniel (pictured above) will open a solo exhibit of new paintings at Shulamit Gallery in Venice tonight, May 21.

“Piecemaker” is a striking body of work that reflects Daniel’s negotiation of her own hybrid identity and moments of cultural dislocation.

This selection of paintings presents dichotomous motifs, sublime color palettes, abstracted landscapes, and dreamlike settings that confound concrete storylines.

Unique formal and compositional elements unite to create a sense of unease that is rooted in the artist’s personal experiences living in her adopted home.

In her practice, Daniel excels at defying traditional narrative frameworks, achieved through the use of dense and disorienting compositions, the melding of abstraction and figuration, and by deploying jarring color combinations activated through thin color fields and areas of detailed brushwork. In “Piecemaker,” the story is always unresolved, as Daniel prefers to create psychologically fraught scenes that evoke both reverie and anomie.

This tension between memory and fantasy highlights her own personal negotiation of Jaffa’s diverse backdrop, where local Arab and Jewish cultures co-exist to create a vibrant, complex, and at times, fraught sociopolitical environment.

Throughout the exhibition, which will run through June 27, Daniel continues to incorporate conflicting cultural motifs, referencing Canadian landscape painting embedded with traditional Arabic designs.

Shulamit Gallery is located at 17 North Venice Blvd., Venice. For more information, call 310.281.0961 or visit shulamitgallery.com.

Patchwork Landing, 2015, 55.25” x 63”
Patchwork Landing, 2015, 55.25” x 63”

How many pieces will be in this exhibition?

Ten paintings will be exhibited in the main space of the gallery, all oil on canvas. Formats range from large (80 inches) to tiny (25 inches). Each painting was created over the past six months of intense studio work. The shippers come to my studio, take all the paintings away for crating, and they’re finally flown out to their overseas destination, in this case, Venice. I love that part – walking back into an empty studio. I enter these high-energy six-month cycles during which I can produce an entire solo show. Then, I chill out for a month or two, recharge the creative juices and get back to work on the next show.

What do you think makes this exhibit unique?

This exhibit fits its venue hand in glove. The Shulamit Gallery’s mandate is one that emphasizes cultural tolerance and socially engaged art or art of a hybrid nature. As the show’s title “Piecemaker” hints, all paintings are an attempt at piecing together elements of two radically different cultures: Canadian and Middle Eastern. Just imagine highly charged forest landscapes with enough neon pink to lend them a slightly apocalyptic sensibility, populated with furtive characters and Arabesque patterns.

Can you tell a story of one of your favorite works, and how that piece came to be?

One piece, “Scruffy’s Emerald Secret” is a favorite of mine. It’s moodier that the others and I can identify with the bare-footed loner sitting on a tree stump, hunched over his campfire. Behind him looms this tall green patterned tree, a beautiful freak specimen. It shouldn’t be there, but it is. The man shouldn’t be there, but he is. Where is his family? Why is he alone?

How did this exhibit come together?

Shula Nazarian saw my works at the Untitled Art Fair in Miami several years ago and that sparked a dialogue and finally an invitation to do a show here in Venice. I’m very lucky to be working with such a committed and open-minded person.

Will you be in Venice for the opening reception?

For real? I’m flying half way around the world just to say, “I’m so stoked to be here!” I can’t wait.

Where do you live now?

Today, I’m far from where I started. I grew up in British Columbia, and one year while travelling in India, I met an Israeli. The rest as they say is history. Presently I live in Jaffa, a unique neighbourhood south of Tel Aviv where Palestinians and Israelis coexist. It’s an oasis of sanity in a country hell bent on revisiting the Dark Ages.

Can you talk about the title 
of the exhibition?

“Piecemaker” was a word that occurred to me when I began to notice that many of the Islamic designs I was using reminded me of patterns commonly found in American quilting. Members of quilting guilds often use the moniker “Piece Maker.” For me, it conjured the nearly hopeless notion of peacemaking, which when placed in a conflicted Middle Eastern context, sounded about right. I noticed that when I painted an Arabesque star in a more didactic manner, truer to a traditional color scheme, I could preserve something of the original design. But that wasn’t what I was after. So, I started painting the same stars in a chunky, random manner, which made them look more like Shaker quilts. Most of these quilt designs originated in the Middle East, only to be adopted by Europeans and eventually exported to the New World so long ago. I don’t try to fuse these two identities or elements, because I don’t think I can or even want to resolve this strange narrative for the viewer or myself. They are simply that: pieces from very different worlds which hold enormous potential for more storytelling.

What’s next for you?

I also work with a gallery in New York, so my next year will be in preparation for the next show there. My short-term plans involve a happy week in Venice meeting new folks, watching surfers, and savouring as many burritos and quesadillas as opportunity permits. No one understands Mexican food in the Middle East and I’m hooked.

Related Posts

Pali High Debuts Fall Musical Avenue Q Live on Stage

October 12, 2021

October 12, 2021

Pali high students bring the musical Avenue Q to the stage for a limited time. Video brought to you by...

UCLA awarded $1 Million Dollars Towards Enabling Safer Bike Commutes

October 11, 2021

October 11, 2021

The Civic Bicycle Commuting team along with partners is one of six competitors for the Civic Innovation Challenge backed by...

Barn Owl Nesting Box Program Comes to The Westside.

October 5, 2021

October 5, 2021

The barn owl nesting box program from Citizens for Los Angeles Wildlife is helping these birds create a network of...

Missing Woman Last Seen in Venice Beach

September 29, 2021

September 29, 2021

Jessie Jean-Baptiste last seen Saturday By Sam Catanzaro Police are seeking a missing 25-year-old woman last seen in Venice Beach...

Canstruction Fights Hunger Through Art

September 27, 2021

September 27, 2021

International hunger relief fundraiser Canstruction makes an appearance at the Westfield Century City mall and we have the highlights. Video...

The Rich History of Prehemptive CBD Creams

September 27, 2021

September 27, 2021

The following is a question and answer with Paul Herve, founder of Prehemptive CBD creams, based on the formulas of a botanical...

Top-Rated Poster Printing Services in Los Angeles

September 10, 2021

September 10, 2021

So you want a piece of promotional artwork that is eye-catching and makes a statement. Maybe you’re a store looking...

Comedian Fuquan Johnson One of 1 of 3 Dead Following Suspected Overdose at Venice Party

September 7, 2021

September 7, 2021

Early Saturday morning incident remains under investigation By Sam Catanzaro Comedian Fuquan Johnson was among one of three people who...

Gambling and Mental Health: Tips For The Casino

August 31, 2021

August 31, 2021

With the advent of online casinos, gambling has become a more popular pastime than ever before. It’s estimated that a...

Final Weekend of Marina Drive-In Movie Summer Series With New Movies Added

August 28, 2021

August 28, 2021

WHERE: Marina del Rey Boat Launch Ramp, 13477 Fiji Way at Parking Lot #2 COST: $20 per vehicle, per movie...

Market Report: What is the Difference Between a Peach and a Nectarine?

August 25, 2021

August 25, 2021

Today at the Santa Monica farmers market Murray Farms answers all of our stone fruit questions in this video brought...

Main Street Traffic Closures Return This Weekend

August 20, 2021

August 20, 2021

Sharing an Open Main Street back for second time this summer August 21 – 22 By Sam Catanzaro  The summer’s...

Venice Restaurants Vie for Michelin Stars

August 19, 2021

August 19, 2021

Prestigious guide returning to California next month By Kerry Slater The Michelin Guide is returning to California next month after...

Venice Outdoor Venues Offer Maskless Event Experience

August 15, 2021

August 15, 2021

When mask mandates were lifted across California last month, the citizens of Los Angeles County breathed a collective sigh of...

What to Wear When Attending the Breeders’ Cup 2021

August 13, 2021

August 13, 2021

Choosing the right clothing is a big part of the fun of going to a popular horse racing event such...