On November 10th, LAAFA hosted its 2018 Graduation & Exhibition at the Rebecca Molayem Gallery! The exhibition featured artworks by not only the graduates, but alumni and instructors as well.


Below is the full list of all the 2018 Commencement Graduates from our programs:

Some of the 2018 Commencement Graduates: (Starting from top left, clock-wise) Nikita Budkov, Kevin SK Simon, Matt Jordan, Nattanapat Tanatitiyotin, and Amaro Koeberle.

Over 80 artworks were displayed in the gallery, making it the largest exhibition of artworks LAAFA has ever hosted!

Can Tanatitiyotin

Matt Jordan

Nikita Budkov

SK Simon

Below are some of the featured instructor artworks that were on display at the exhibition:

Ryan Wurmser

Ron Lemen

Leon Okun

Rohini Sen

Chris Soohoo

Christina Ramos

On behalf of LAAFA, we want to thank everyone who participated in this 2018 Graduation & Exhibition! It was a such a fun and commemorating event. See you guys next year for the 2019 Graduation and Exhibition!


For this blog post, I’m bringing attention to the forgotten art of restoration botched by, believe it or not, old Spanish ladies. One might even think it is an ongoing trend, but in their defense, they were just doing the best they could with the limited resources available to them. What I am talking about is the recent “restoration” of a 15th century statue of the Virgin Mary by María Luisa Menéndez, a local woman in Asturias, Spain.

At left, the 15th-century statue of Virgin Mary before being “restored” (right) by a local woman in Asturias, Spain. Photo DSF/AFP/Getty Images.

As a local tobacco shop owner, María took the lead in giving the 15th-century sculptures of Mary, Saint Anne, baby Jesus, Saint Peter and a second Virgin Mary a neon makeover with fresh eyeliner and lipstick. “I’m not a professional painter but I’ve always liked painting and the statues really needed painting,” she told El Comercio. “I painted them as best I could using what I thought were the right colors. The neighbors liked them too. Ask around here and you’ll find out.” She also made it very clear that she had received permission from the local clergy to do so according to local media reports.

Apparently local news outlets did find some locals in support of Maria, but then again, the town only has 16 residents. The regional minister for culture and education in Asturias, Genaro Alonso, however, fully disagrees, calling the amateur work more “a vengeance than a restoration,” according to the newspaper La Voz de Asturias.

To make things even more interesting, when people started researching these statues, they found out that apparently they had been restored by professionals only 15 years earlier! But their reason for not painting them as Maria did? The wooden family had never been painted in the first place. Upon examining the damage,  Luis Suárez Saro who was the original restorer said that, “They’ve used the kind of industrial enamel paint they sell for painting anything and absolutely garish and absurd colors. The result is just staggering. You don’t know whether to laugh or cry.” he told the Guardian. An infrared examination will be undertaken by Saro to determine just how much damage has been done and if it can be reversed.

But of course, this isn’t the first time the art world has seen this kind of murder. Back in June of this year, a Spanish art teacher tried to restore a 16th-century statue of Saint George on horseback from the Church of San Miguel de Estella in Navarre, Spain.

Before and after a misguided restoration on the statue of St. George at Navarre, Spain’s Church of San Miguel de Estella. Photo via Twitter.

A cartoonish makeover nonetheless that many began to draw comparisons to Hergé’s comic book character Tintin:

And then there was the mother (or father, in this case) of all botched historical art works – one that even made it as a skit on SNL – the Ecce Homo incident of 2012 in which 83-year-old Cecilia Giménez decided to give an almost century-old fresco of Jesus Christ a makeover from her local church in Borja, Spain.

Before and after restoration to Ecce Homo in 2012.

Why are these historical art works left to the hands of these amateur Spanish women? The answer lies within the church institutions and artworks themselves. Many of these artworks that were commissioned by churches centuries ago never once thought about the longevity of these artworks. Over the years they are exposed to different elements that rapidly speed up process of deterioration. These small town churches with only about 1,000-10,000 residents barely have enough money to fund themselves and therefore seek humble volunteer services of its residents to help with maintenance of their church. So when the church notices an artwork or statue that needs a little pick-me-up, they soon find out how much professional restorers/conservators charge for their services. Having no money whatsoever, the church/clergy then looks upon the humble volunteer services of its residents and hires who they see “fit.” That is how you then end up with these three masterful artworks that should honestly have their own display cases in the Museum of Failure.

Meme of Bob Ross with “Beast Jesus” as his painting.

Hi-ya folks! Not sure if you’ve heard, but there was Disneyland exhibition/auction event in Sherman Oaks for most of August! I was fortunate enough to go check it out before it closed and stuff was auctioned off, so now it is my duty to share with you some of the magical and nostalgic artifacts of Disney.


Photo credit: Tara Ziemba/Getty Images

That’s From Disneyland! housed one of the largest private Disneyland memorabilia collections Southern California has ever seen. Collector Richard Kraft partnered with Van Eaton Galleries to transform a 40,000 square foot former Sports Authority Store into a “FREE, family-friendly, interactive museum that celebrates the unique history and artistry of Disney theme parks.”


Frontierland section of posters all estimated at $2,000-$4,000 each. The Original Mark Twain & Keel Boats Attraction Poster (fourth from the right) SOLD for $17,000.

Rivers of America “Indian Settlement” Animatronic Dog (Disneyland, ca. 1960’s), estimated at $5,000-$7,000. SOLD for $7,000.

After 25 years of hoarding artifacts from Disneyland in my home, office, and countless storage facilities, I’m swinging open the doors to my collection and throwing a bon voyage party for everyone who shares fond memories of Disneyland. This FREE exhibit is my way of saying goodbye to my beloved treasures from the Happiest Place on Earth.


The best part about this exhibition? Richard is donating a portion of the proceeds from the auction to the Coffin-Siris Syndrome Foundation and CHIME Institute For Early Education, both of which benefit children with special needs, like Kraft’s daughter.

Disneyland Hotel Neon Letter D, estimated at $25,000-$30,000. SOLD for $86,250.

Growing up in Southern California, Disneyland was my home away from home. My parents used to bribe me when I was a little girl by saying that if I didn’t cry during my doctor’s appointment (as the mean nurse injected me with a needle the size of my head), then they would take me to Disneyland. I, of course, immediately held back my tears and hoped for the best. There was even a time in my young-adult years where I’d find myself at the park at least three to four times a month! But due to the (absurd) surge in prices recently, that “home” became really away from home. This exhibit, however, managed to rekindle that part of my life and the love for the art of the magical world of Disney.

This exhibition had everything you could possibly think of – from the finely designed trash cans found in Fantasyland to the small “Ride closed due to winds” signs. Here are more images of the stuff that was being auctioned off. As you’ll see, I have notated the estimated prices followed by the whopping selling prices at the auction.

“Enchanted Tiki Room” Animatronic Jose Prop. Estimated at $50,000-$75,000. SOLD for $425,500.


Disneyland Main Street Mail Box Prop. Estimated at $1,000-$2,000. SOLD for $25,000.


Original “Art of Animation” Attraction Poster. Estimated at $5,000-$7,000. SOLD for $17,000 (Realized Price).


“Dumbo the Flying Elephant” Attraction Vehicle (Disneyland, 1960’s). Estimated at $100,000-$150,000. SOLD for $483,000.


Original Haunted Mansion Stretching Portraits (Disneyland, c. 1969). Estimated at $50,000-$75,000 each. The stretching portrait of three men sinking into quicksand sold for $350,000 (Realized Price), two-times more than the other three stretching portraits!


1972 Disneyland Map. Estimated at $200-$400. SOLD for $1,900 (Realized Price).


Disneyland Service Vehicle Original Concept Drawing (Disneyland, c. 1955). Estimated at $900-$1,200. SOLD for $1,300 (Realized Price).

There are literally HUNDREDS of more items that were sold in auction. If you’d like to check out the catalog, click here.

White – the color of pureness, light, cleanliness, softness, and perfection. Ironically, it’s also the color they use at mental hospitals (because of its calming effects, mind you). But how can a color with such a pure and soft feeling be one of the most notoriously deadliest pigments in the history of pigments?

Lead white has been used as far back at the 4th century B.C.E. by the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans. It was commonly used in the preparation of ointments and plasters as well as cosmetics, but this pigment was highly valued by painters because of its dense opacity.

Stacking White Lead (from Dodd, G. British Manufactures, 1884).

To make their paint, artists would grind a block of lead into powder, exposing highly toxic dust particles. The pigment’s liberal use resulted in what was known as “Painter’s Colic,” or what we know now as lead poisoning. But why is lead deadly? Lead gets directly absorbed into the body and penetrates the nervous system. Once in the nervous system, the lead disrupts the normal function of calcium in your body and can cause mental disabilities and high blood pressure.

But with side effects like these, painters across time and cultures didn’t seem to mind. Lead white was always the practical choice up until the 19th century because of its density, opacity, and warm tones. It was irresistible to artists like Vermeer and later the Impressionists like Van Gogh. Its glow couldn’t be matched, and the pigment continued to be widely used until it was banned in the 1970’s.

The Milkmaid (De Melkmeid) by Johannes Vermeer, c. 1657–1661. The Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam inv. A2344.

Details of Vincent van Gogh (1853 – 1890), Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, February 1890. Credits (obliged to state): Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (Vincent van Gogh Foundation).

Suffice it to say, there is nothing pure about this color, but one can’t deny its brilliance and radiance in paintings. Luckily nowadays we have various synthetic options that can somewhat achieve the lead white effect, but nothing will ever be as resilient as the original deadly pigment.

Mulling lead-white on porphyry stone. Photo credit to Larry Groff,

Our alumnus, Nikita Budkov, was recently featured in an exhibition that welcomed new artists! This exhibition took place at the Hillside Fine Art Gallery, located in the college town of Claremont, CA. The Hillside Fine Art Gallery has been featuring art by award-winning professional artists belonging to the California Art Club. As I have talked about before in another blog post, this year marked the club’s 107th Gold Medal Exhibition, in which Nikita was fortunate enough to participate.

Rodolfo Rivadermar (left) and Nikita Budkov (right).

Because this was a huge deal for us here at LAAFA, I decided to ask Nikita a couple of questions for a mini interview to see how he was feeling about this new experience for him:

-What does it mean to you to be chosen for this exhibition?

This exhibition means a lot because it is a welcoming celebration to myself and two other artists of the Hillside Fine Art gallery. It is going to be my first opening night in this gallery.


-Tell me a bit about your painting, what was your thought process for it and why was it the piece that you chose to submit?

I have six pieces in the show, they are all different landscapes from Siberia, Moscow, Sequoia National Park, and Los Angeles. My idea was to show the beauty of nature overall.

“A Struggle with Emptiness” by Nikita Budkov.

“Glow” by Nikita Budkov.

-What advice do you have for our current (or future) students who are looking to submit to this kind of exhibition?

Go look at what the gallery has on their walls, make notes, keep it relatively the same subject, but always bring your own new ideas.

Congrats Nikita! We are happy that you represent LAAFA and wish you all the best in your art endeavors.

Hillside Fine Art is located on 445 W Foothill, Suite 101 in Claremont, CA. Special Artists reception takes place on Saturday, August 11 from 5pm-7pm. Regular gallery hours are from Wednesdays through Saturdays from 12pm-5pm. 

Welcome to a world of felt! This past weekend I had the honor of checking out the new installation by Lucy Sparrow, a London-based artist who works almost exclusively in felt by creating soft versions of existing objects. For her first big break in Los Angeles, Lucy has made an entire supermarket fully stocked with over 31,000 products all made by hand and signed by her! You will literally find everything in this market. Don’t believe me? See the images below:

I first read about this artist in 2015 when she exhibited Madame Roxy’s Erotic Emporium. Although details about this installation and the products that it housed would be considered NSFW (Not Safe For Work) for LAAFA, the simple idea of an artist creating products entirely out of felt was so peculiar that I instantly fell in love with her work.

All the products in this installation are available to buy and range from $15 to $200 and up (like, $50,000 and up). In a recent interview that Lucy did with The Cut, she mentions why she chose felt. “I decided to work with felt because I find that it’s a medium that is so synonymous with being a child. It’s an easy fabric to work with, it doesn’t fray, it’s available in all the colors you could possibly think of. So, I thought, I wonder if I could make an entire shop that if you’re daydreaming, it looks similar enough that you could go there thinking it was real.”

And so she did. Having the chance to experience this supermarket in person brought out the child inside of me. I was suddenly transported back to the days when I would pretend to shop with plastic groceries and be a cashier with fake money and a register that ding’ed just like the real thing. It was an interactive world come to life and now my perspective of supermarkets will never be the same.

Sparrow Mart is located on the second floor of The Standard hotel at 550 S. Flower St. in Downtown, and runs August 1, 2018 to August 31, 2018. The installation is open Tuesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. It is closed on Mondays.



One of our very own instructors, Adam Matano, has been selected for the ARC! The ARC is the Art Renewal Center, a non-profit and educational foundation that is leading the revival of realism in the visual arts. They host one of the largest online museums where you will find anything from old masters, contemporary art, articles, letters, and other online resources. This year they host the 13th annual ARC Salon Traveling Exhibition, and Adam Matano will be part of it!

Adam Matano, The Hunter, 2017, 81.28 x 111.76 cm | 32 x 44 in Resin.

We were very excited to hear this news here at LAAFA, so we quickly jumped to ask him some questions about his experience. Below is a mini-interview with Adam:

-What does it mean to you to be chosen for this exhibition? Especially as an “honorable mention.”

“I am very excited to be included in this exhibition. I was awarded 3rd place in the animal category and as an honorable mention in the sculpture category, which means I can participate in the physical show that will travel from New York City to Los Angeles and end in Barcelona, Spain. I will be in the catalog for all three shows, but physically I will only be showing at the L.A. show at Sotheby’s auction house.”


-Tell me a bit about your piece, The Hunter. What was your thought process for it and why was it the piece that you chose to submit?

“The Hunter is a sculpture I did of a black African leopard. There is a strong juxtaposition in the pose versus what we may see on the surface when we think of such powerful animals. We’re at first taken aback, recognizing their incredible strength and powerful weapons, which, one on one, have the ability to kill us. What we fail to recognize is that there is much more to nature, theirs as well as our own, which given consideration and time will reveal something much more beautiful and complex given the chance. Leopards, specifically, are not the biggest, strongest, nor the fastest of the big animals, but they’re smart, and very adaptable. They are able to live close to man and are spread out on more contents than all the other cats. They’re the underdogs, as we are, surviving.”


-What advice do you have for our current (or future) students who are looking to submit to this kind of traveling exhibition?

“What is good about the ARC Salon exhibition is that it’s international and online. You have the opportunity to show with artists all over the world and potentially sell, without the added risk and expense of shipping. You can submit up to 3 pieces and to any or all your relevant categories. If you place in the competition, then you can join the traveling exhibition. Showing in person is ideal, because certain aspects of the work don’t translate in photos, such as scale, texture, etc. Also, you really need to walk around my sculpture to experience it. Every angle tells a different story.”











Congratulations, Adam!

Adam Matano will be showcasing his work at the Sotheby’s, Los Angeles from December 4 through December 13, 2018. Opening reception will take place on December 4, 2018 from 6PM-8PM.


By Ada Ruiz

June 26th, 2018 marked the death of public art. I’m probably exaggerating, but when a concept such as a “Private Mural” where you have to show the security guard that you are a verified account on Instagram and have over 20K followers in order to take a picture in front of it enters the art world, it makes us want to scoff and spit on all of the great masterpieces in the history of art.


Check out Justin’s article on VICE

Where do I even begin? This mural located at 7753 Melrose Ave. It is completely covered by a tent and in order to take a picture in front of the mural, you need to show that you either have a verified Twitter Account, or that you have more than 20,000 Instagram followers. Society calls them “influencers” because we look upon them to tell us what is “in” and what is “out” of mainstream.


There has been so many negative reactions against it (as it should!), and surprisingly it is by both sides of the 20K marker. But what does this mean about “public” art itself? Or when we analyze this deeper, what does this mean about our society? In this case, it’s not hard to connect the two. As an art historian, one of the many people we despise in the art world are private collectors. Aside from messing with the art market prices, they are responsible for lack in research of some important historical artworks and artifacts.

What does this mean about our society though? Very much like these restricted artworks and artifacts, this so called “private mural” is restricting the public from enjoying an artwork that is meant to be viewed by the public. It is, afterall, in a public space. But once again, certain things are left to be enjoyed only by those who hold a high position in society or mainstream media.

See you next month when another private mural pops up in this country. Only this time in order to get in you will have to show the security guard that you have 50,000 followers and pay him by cutting off one of your limbs.

Public art the right way!

Mobile Lovers, (presumed) Banksy, Bristol, 2014.

Photo credit:

Update: As of Thursday 6/28, the mural is now open to everyone thanks to “intense public pressure,” according to the people behind it. POWER TO THE PEOPLE!

…or maybe not…as with everything these days…it was a marketing stunt…for a Tumblr TV ShowBecause apparently that’s a thing now.

Neat. :/

by Ada Ruiz

Welcome to Clougherty Packing Co., home of the famous Dodger Dogs and of the poorly painted hog wild mural. If you haven’t already heard about or seen this place, I highly recommend a trip there at least once in your lifetime. This place is the Farmer John Brand Clougherty Meat Packing Company in Vernon, CA, which is a very small, smelly, industrialized city. As you’re passing through the city via South Soto St., you come across a vibrant mural depicting a quaint farm landscape with pigs roaming around freely and little kids chasing after them. You can also see some farm workers sleeping in hammocks, dogs chasing after quails, and a little girl selling lemonade with her partner who’s a pig.

Since I had been driving by it my whole life, I decided to stop and experience it from up close. When I finally did, I immediately wanted to regret my decision, but was too busy trying to catch my breath from laughing so hard. Just look at the faces!

A brief history of this mural:

In 1957, Barney Clougherty, who was the owner of Farmer John’s company, commissioned the painter known as Les (short for Leslie) Grimes. Les was known to be a talented painter of scenic backgrounds for Hollywood movie sets and spent the next eleven years working on the mural. What is unfortunate is that while working on painting the crystal blue sky of his landscape, Grimes fell from a fifty- foot scaffolding and died instantly, leaving half of the building unfinished. After his death, Clougherty hired another muralist named Arno Jordan to finish the mural.

What’s interesting to me, once I look past the horribly depicted animal anatomy, is the differences in styles.

These are the weird looking faced ones:









And these are ones that look muscular, almost human like and darker:









Nonetheless, it was a fun and amusing experience getting to see these murals up close after driving by it my whole life. If you can get passed the odors of what will remind you either of hot dogs cooking on the grill or puke, I suggest you come see this place for yourself.


3049 E Vernon Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90058