KP Projects/ Merry Karnowsky Gallery is proud to present a special group exhibition celebrating the gallery’s incredible 25th Anniversary and continued legacy in the Los Angeles art scene. Once a small but refined counter-culture space, the gallery has grown to become a respected powerhouse in the contemporary art world. Embracing the emerging movements of Pop Surrealism, Low Brow, New Contemporary, and Street Art, Karnowsky’s keen eye that supported the early careers of artists Shepard Fairey, Todd Schorr, Mark Ryden, Camille Rose Garcia, Kent Williams, Friends With You, Toshio Saeki, Victor Castillo, Mercedes Henlwein, Vonn Sumner, as well as photographers Vivian Maier and Henri Dauman has sustained her reputation and vision for two and a half decades.
According to American Art Collector Magazine editor Sarah Gianelli (June 2022 issue) “Gallerist Merry Karnowsky is something of a legend in the Los Angeles art world. Recognized for her pioneering role in elevating the Surreal Pop and Lowbrow art movements that originated in the late 1980s from the streets into the spotlight.”
“[Merry’s] gallery was the first I saw take the work that I loved from underground culture and bring it into a white cube space,” says Heidi Johnson, founder of Hijinx Arts, an artist management and public relations firm. “She created awareness of these incredible artists and built value in the movement early on, bringing it to a landed market and newly percolating young collectors…Merry is and has always been right on the pulse, in tune with both artists and the collectors.” Heidi Johnston Hijinx PR.
Exhibitions by Greg ‘CRAOLA’ Simkins, Audrey Kawasaki, Masakatsu Sashie, Jennybird Alcantara, Jeff Soto, Johny ‘KMNDZ’ Rodriguez and many more have continued to push the boundaries of expression in contemporary painting. Todd Schorr met Karnowsky in Los Angeles in the late 1990’s and became her inaugural show with wife, artist Kathy Staico Schorr. They have been represented by Karnowsky since opening 25 years ago.
“In subsequent years Merry has gone on to represent many of the top artists in the Lowbrow/Pop Surreal world and has developed an extremely loyal fan base of collectors,” says Schorr, adding how essential Karnowsky has been in so many aspects of his career. “She’s not only my home gallery but has become a great friend as well.” – Todd Schorr
Beyond her gallery walls, Merry has represented artists in broader capacities by facilitating large scale murals commissioned by Warner Music, DTLA, The House of Blues, Anaheim, and Shepard Fairey’s “Time For Peace” mural at LA Brea and 2nd Street. In 2011 Karnowsky partnered with Cedd Moses to curate a site specific exhibition called 5 LITE which took over 5 storefront spaces in Downtown Los Angeles. The exhibition featured legendary artists Ed Moses, Robert Irwin, Larry Bell, Laddie John Dill, and Robert Wilhite in conjunction with the Getty’s Pacific Standard Time initiative.
Los Angeles writer Shana Nys Dambrot has more to add about Karnowsky in American Art Collector magazine : “Merry’s legacy is secure, in LA and beyond; but as she enters a new quarter century she continues to expand and deepen the gallery’s vision and cultivate new audiences for contemporary art. As a critic it’s pleasurable and fertile ground to cover!”
In celebration of Karnowsky’s ongoing legacy, more than 30 artists at all points in their career will come together in a show that pays homage to the aesthetic for which Karnowsky has long provided a platform moving into its 25th year.
Featured Artists :
JENNYBIRD ALCANTARA / JEAN-PIERRE ARBOLEDA / VICTOR CASTILLO / TODD CARPENTER / DEEDEE CHERIEL / JON CHING / GREG “CRAOLA” SIMKINS / DALEK / JIMMY DANKO / / SHEPARD FAIREY / CAMILLE ROSE GARCIA / LOLA GIL / STEVEN R. GILMORE & GINA ROSA STELLINI / ALEX GROSS / MERCEDES HELNWEIN / ANDREW HEM / MEL KADEL / AUDREY KAWASAKI / JOHNNY ‘KMNDZ’ RODRIGUEZ / KUKULA / TRAVIS LOUIE / ALAN MACDONALD / CAROLYNDA MACDONALD / TARA MCPHERSON / ERIC NASH / LORI NELSON / BUNNIE REISS / MASAKATSU SASHIE / TODD SCHORR / KATHY STAICO SCHORR / JEFF SOTO / VONN SUMNER / MISS VAN / KENT WILLIAMS
“The story of The Salon des Refuses is the stuff of art-historical legend that serves as my north star when considering the type of gallerist I strive to be, and the type of artists I wanted to represent. I want to hold space for artists with a clear vision, skill, and determination that challenges the status quo rather than serves it. And I wanted to create a beautiful environment that does not distract from the work and intention. I am very proud of the fact that many of the artists and movements I’ve nurtured over the years have grown and thrived organically with very little initial endorsement from the artworld gate keepers. It shows the power of art to connect and resonate with people in a very pure and sustainable way. When I opened my gallery, there was the assertion that high and low culture could simply not blend together or be legitimately considered. It’s taken some time, but history has, and continues to be made.” – Merry Karnowsky