L.A. by Day – L.A. by Night

Los Angeles is a peculiar Southern California city. There’s an inexplicable appeal to a city that’s both scenic, yet obnoxious – a vast town rich in culture and history, yet perceivably lacking in other ways. Who other than Shag to capture the intrigue of LA through colorful and contrasting views that are as different as night and day, literally.

In 2005, Shag held two simultaneous shows in Los Angeles under one simple theme – you guessed it, Los Angeles. The exhibit as a whole featured 22 paintings, which included 11 various themes of Los Angeles culture and landmarks during the day (LA by Day), and 11 more of the same subject matter under the blanket of night (LA by Night).


In LA by Day, Shag has characterized the outdoor enjoyment that so many people in LA take for granted. Nearly every painting from the series personifies someone in trendy sunglasses or illustrates people sharing in a Southern California outdoor pastime, like a round of golf in The Secret Cul-de-Sac, a picnic as portrayed in Venus of the Underpass, or an outdoor stroll by a famous landmark, like Tail o’the Pup in San Vicente Dog Walk.


Los Angeles has no lack of character, which is in part found in its famous landmarks and architecture. In The Bird Watcher and The Amoralists Shag captures the unusual saucer-like Chemosphere home in the hills overlooking Los Angeles. The octagon shaped home was built by American architect John Lautner in 1960 and was once deemed “the most modern home built in the world.” Shag also blended two well-known Los Angeles landmarks in LA Modern (Day) and LA Modern (Night). The two architectural landmarks, the Cinerama Dome (built in 1963) and the Capital Records tower, designed by Welton Becket and built in 1956, are arguably the two most identifiable buildings in Hollywood. It’s fitting Shag would incorporate these two buildings, not just because their images are synonymous with Los Angeles, but because they were built during Shag’s favorite social and architectural era.


In addition to the overall eclectic architectural style strewn across a very broad cityscape, LA’s character also comes from its geographical location. Los Angeles is sandwiched between a beach lover’s paradise and a ski enthusiast’s dream – the Pacific Ocean and the San Gabriel Mountains. And rising high above in the center of it all is the beautiful skyline of downtown LA, which Shag has painted so playfully in both The Secret Cul-de-Sac and The Relentless Party. Both of these paintings tie in so many of the elements that define Los Angeles, and are easily the best from the series.


With all the landmarks, sun and endless options of leisure throughout the “City of Angels” also comes a side of LA that sometimes makes it feel more like the “City of the Self Absorbed.” Los Angeles tends to be the breeding ground for cell-phone loving, look-at-me (and my pet) narcissists. You don’t have to look too far in LA to find a self-centered “wannabe” and in Shag’s exhibit you don’t have to look past too many paintings to see Shag characters that exemplify the reputation. Carolwood Driveway, 8:00 PM brings it all together with the fancy pet, faux-fur lined dress and the private chauffeur. At the other end of the spectrum you have the introvert narcissist, the Unabomber-type that wants attention from behind the mask. There was a period of time many years back when freeway shootings in Los Angeles were a regular occurrence, so much so that the phenomenon was spoofed in the Steve Martin film LA Story. In Shag’s The Shooter, the gunman’s turtleneck and cat-burglar mask gives him more of an “international man of mystery” image, and less of a reclusive sociopathic one. He even appears to have a mystery babe silhouetted by the shadow of night, peering from the freeway overpass (It seems every mid-century super-villain has their go-go gold digger vixen.)

Very few original paintings are ever recreated as serigraphs. However, Shag did create a very limited edition of just 149 larger-sized serigraphs of The Secret Cul-de-Sac, which sold out very quickly and can now only be acquired from collectors willing to part with the rare print or from speciality galleries.


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