Is it the directness we were attracted to? Yes, that’s part of it. Leah Knecht’s artwork, large and hung on the walls of her bungalow—one Open Studios tour many years ago—lured us to take a closer look, each and every one with an openness and expressiveness we couldn’t resist. Landmarks of our cities such as the Rialto Theater and the Original Whistle Stop or a simple wall or moneylender shop; portraits that aren’t simply portraits, but a collage of one’s life.
Shakespeare, Gutenberg, and Raymond Moudy depicts an old building, most probably a warehouse, with large windows and “printers” painted on the brick. But this is a small part of the overall work, which has an old map in one corner surrounded by spines of real books—Alistair Cooke’s America, Herman Wouk’s The Winds of War, and Edge of a Continent by Donald Greame Kelley and History of Art by HW Janson. The bottom is a wooden printer’s tray with vintage letterpress blocks tucked into the various-sized compartments. Perhaps because we write, most likely because one of our favorite pastimes is a whole day committed to reading, this piece by Leah is a sentimental favorite.
A painted portrait—surrounded by photographs, letters, postcards, announcements, text, and given objects—are a peek into a person’s life, the layers of a personality, of the years spent doing and being, searching and finding.
If these images engage you, we highly recommend scheduling a stop at Leah Knecht’s during the next Open Studios Tour weekend, June 4-5.
History, gentrification, transformation, and throwaway culture are themes addressed in my work, mainly utilizing urban landscapes and signage as the structural device. Most of the settings are taken from Pasadena and surrounding cities, as I’m trying to capture the unique beauty and history of the area, although in an unconventional way.
My work can be described as a cross between representational painting and assemblage, or paintings that incorporate actual objects and ephemera. I like the tactile quality that it brings to my work, the meaning these objects imply, and the recycling aspect of using castoffs.
I construct the substrates before incorporating objects, after which the painting process begins. I do like to play with depth and illusion to draw the viewer in, and have them question what defines a painting. Sometimes this is in a large-scale format to encompass the viewer more fully.
On Saturday, June 4th, 2-4 p.m., Knecht Studio hosts Jerry Waller playing blues and rock, while on Sunday, June 5th, 2-4 p.m. one can hear innovative jazz by Trio Kait. Knecht Studio is #40 on the Open Studios map and is located at 1208 N. Oxford Ave., just south of E. Washington Blvd. in Pasadena.
Maps may be picked up on June 4 and 5 at Pizza of Venice, Merge Framing, McGinty’s Gallery, Hoopla Emporium, and Sidewalk Café. Many of these venues will also be exhibiting artists’ work.
The Open Studios Tour features over 75 artists in 41 locations around Pasadena and Altadena. This is a unique opportunity to meet artists, see where they create, hear some live music (find schedule below), enjoy a little nosh, and have your senses filled by incredibly varied and worthy art.
Open Studios’ “Evening of Art” is Friday, June 3 with an art preview at 6 p.m. and the live auction at 8 p.m. Last year, we were the highest bid on a collage by Shelley Powsner, which now hangs above our couch alongside work by Open Studios artists Ana Marini-Genzon and Kate Carvellas.
To see more participating artists—sculptors, jewelers, ceramicists, performers, and assemblage and textile artists—visit OpenStudios.gallery.
Peruse other Open Studios artists:
Steven Mark Greenfield
“Conversing with Ana Marini-Genzon”
“Through a Carvellas Eye”
Thing-maker Dave Lovejoy at Lovejoy Art
Aerial photographer Renee Rusak Strouse
Debbi Swanson Patrick at Telling Images
Leslie Delamater at L. A. General Store Design Studio