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Crenshaw’s Orthodox L.A. Gallery Hosts Contemporary Art Exhibit
By Cora Jackson-Fossett, Staff Writer
Published October 28, 2021

Shalandrea Houchen poses outside the colorful Orthodox L.A. gallery on 54th Street in Los Angeles’ Crenshaw District. (Courtesy photo)

Orthodox L.A. hosts the creative works of 10 emerging artists in a new exhibition entitled, “What’s Your Vibe?”  The interactive multimedia installation is on display until November 1 at the gallery, which is located in Los Angeles’ Crenshaw district on 54th Street near 4th Avenue.

Produced and curated by Shalandrea Houchen, known professionally as Shay Renee, the exhibit theme is “Back to School” and contains an array of canvases depicting various scenes alluding to absorbing information in a multi-sensory, classroom setting.

As Houchen explained, “These interpretations were created by each featured artist to reflect their ideal learning space, all the while encouraging the viewer to cherish their inner child. Many of the paintings were created during the pandemic, which was a pressured-filled time for the world.  The fact that these artists were even able to express themselves during that time is really commendable.”

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The artists are Torin Ashtun, Yedidyah Butterfly, Perri Danielle, Isis Dua, Jonah Elijah, Cortney Herron, Devin Mercadel, Nkechi Odili’Obi and Marley Van Peebles. Some of Houchen’s artwork is displayed as well.

Houchen stand before three pieces by the artist N.K. entitled “She Is,” “Admire” and “Akoben.” (Cora J. Fossett/L.A. Sentinel)

Describing the talents of some of the featured presenters, Houchen said, “Devin Mercadel is an L.A. native who paints, draws and makes furniture.”  Mercadel is also skilled in creating with acrylic print and clothing.

Herron, also born in L.A., is “one of the most successful, working painter’s in this space right now,” noted Houchen. “She’s absolutely amazing as well as an all-around beautiful woman.” Herron combines different mediums of muted colors to reflect the Black female perspective in portraiture.

Odili’Obi or N.K., uses various fabrics as the foundation for her artwork and Houchen shared, “N.K. says she just likes the texture and the effect of painting on fabric.”  She also acknowledged the contributions of Dua, who employs acrylic on canvas in the majority of her work. Houchen asserted, “Isis’ dedication to unique expression shows through every piece.”

Pointing out other works on display, Houchen highlighted that Van Peeples, embellishes his creations with dinosaurs, and defined Elijah’s mural, “First Day of School,” as an “illustration of pop culture being recorded.” Commending the immense talents of Ashtun as well, Houchen declared, “Torin is the most prolific artists of her time!”

“First Day of School,” acrylic on wood painting by Jonah Elijah. (Cora J. Fossett/L.A. Sentinel)

The gallery is open by reservation via email and every weekend.  Also, the venue has sponsored a full moon ceremony, black light yoga classes, and paint and sip events. A free paint and sip session for children will take place on Saturday, October 30, from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m.

“We will provide paint, canvases, juice and snacks for kids to enjoy.  Adults are welcome too, and can relax on our patio while the kids paint and have fun,” said Houchen, who added that space is available for 15 children to participate on a first come basis.

This installation is another component of Houchen’s paint and sip combined with pop-up gallery events, which people can commission to celebrate milestones such as birthdays, anniversaries and retirements.  In a previous Sentinel interview, she labelled the painting classes as an opportunity for individuals or organizations to learn about Black history, culture and art along with communing in a positive space.

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Louis Gabriel, owner/operator of Orthodox L.A., opened the gallery in November 2019 to provide space for the community and artists. “COVID slowed us down, but it also allowed us to turn this space into a distance-learning pod for nine children who are students at City Language Immersion Charter on Venice and Crenshaw Blvd.,” he said.

Artist Marley Van Peebles embellishes his artwork with dinosaurs. (Cora J. Fossett/L.A. Sentinel)

“During COVID, I also networked with people in the community and found an artist to do the mural on the front of the building in early 2021. This past summer, we did a show with four emerging artists and in mid-November,  an artist from New York will have an exhibit of water colors paintings.  So, it’s been really great,” said Gabriel, who is also a furniture-maker.

Orthodox L.A. is located at  2712 W. 54th St., in Los Angeles. To learn more about programs and events, visit https://linktr.ee/whatsyavibe or email [email protected] or contact @artbyallnatural on Instagram.

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