New LA gallery seeks to do good and give back

New LA gallery seeks to do good and give back
From Etienne Rougery-Herbaut's New York Series. Courtesy Etienne Rougery-Herbaut's website.

Over the weekend, a new gallery in Los Angeles opened its doors with an agenda to do well and give back. On March 2nd, the Brannan Mason Gallery welcomed viewers to its new 4,500-square-foot gallery space in LA’s art district. In addition to highlighting and supporting contemporary artists, the gallery will also focus on positive social impact and building community.

Founder and namesake of the gallery, Brannan Mason wanted to create ‘a space that goes beyond the traditional scope of representing artists and organizing exhibitions,’ according to the gallery’s site. To do so, the gallery will feature exhibitions dealing with distinct causes that encourage conversation and open-mindedness. Moreover, at least 10 percent of the earnings earned on artworks will be invested back into the community through vetted non-profit organizations. Each donation will be made in the name of the buyer of the works. As the gallery grows, Brannan Mason Gallery hopes to detail the impact of the donated funds through case studies showing how the effects of their donations are felt in the community.

To mark its opening, the gallery’s inaugural exhibition is called ‘Cornerstone’, which will feature Etienne Rougery-Herbaut, a French photographer making his debut in America, and Samdi (Xavier Delatour), a Haitian artist. The first show at the Brannan Mason Gallery will benefit the Immigrants’ Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Southern California.

‘Cornerstone’ will centre around a photography series by Rougery-Herbaut depicting those who are underrepresented but are very much so a cornerstone within their family, community, or city. ‘The work challenges the viewer to examine their own attitudes and beliefs towards the topic of immigration and realize these photographs as windows into the ethos of America, a collective of immigrants whose descendants came here willingly or were forced but are indispensable cornerstones to this nation.’

Gestural and abstracted, Samdi’s paintings will hang juxtaposed against Rougery-Herbaut’s crisp photographs. Finding inspiration in his own life experiences, Samdi’s works ‘speak to a more universal human experience, beyond prejudice and assumption’ utilizing symbols like crosses and hearts embedded in the faces he paints. Based in Port-au-Prince, Samdi helped to found the Saint Soleil School of Haitian Painting in 1973.

A series of six collaborative works will be displayed in ‘Cornerstone’ combining Rougery-Herbaut’s black and white photography with Samdi’s vibrant painting. A second series contains Rougery-Herbaut’s works printed on salvaged Parisian glass then painted by Samdi.

During Brannan Mason Gallery’s first year, each month will focus on a different exhibition, each running around four weeks. For every exhibition, an opening celebration will introduce the artists and exhibitions but also the cause benefitting from the show. The gallery has also launched a podcast called ‘BMG Sessions’ to accompany their exhibitions, offering more information on the artists they work with the causes they highlight. The first two episodes evolve out of conversations with both Samdi and Rougery-Herbaut, during which, they discuss their works, their inspiration, and their exhibition.