September 17 - November 12, 2011
Opening Reception: Saturday, September 17, 5:00 to 7:00 pm
C2 Gallery

ROBERT BERMAN GALLERY presents PAID TO PLAY – an overview of the oft overlooked Southern California artists rooted in illustration, commissioned to create imagery for record albums, magazines, advertisements, et al. A genre dirtily linked to commercialism but nonetheless full of innovation, technique, artistic expression and speed.

“Fueled by a combination of intense demand, sleepless nights and brutal competition, the four men at the center of LA’s airbrush market – Dave Willardson, Charles E. White III, Peter Palombi and Peter Llyod – embarked on careers that produced iconic work for Playboy, Levi’s, the Rolling Stones, along with major studio films such as American Graffiti and Tron.” - Overspray: Riding High with the Kings of California Airbrush Art.

And the wrangler of these men was Mike Salisbury – the art director of West magazine, the Sunday supplement of the Los Angeles Times, beginning in the late 60s – who was for illustrators what Ferus Gallery was for beat artists – a platform to project Los Angeles cool to the world at large.

Though the visuals defined a generation, most west coast illustrators never landed the fine art jump with the aplomb of their east coast contemporaries like James Rosenquist, Tom Wesselmann and Andy Warhol. But perhaps the most convincing testament to the relevance of a movement largely branded as irrelevant would be the 1969 West magazine cover painted by Ed Ruscha, commissioned by Salisbury, which fetched $578,500 at auction in 2009.

Included in the exhibition are works by Willardson, White, Palombi, Llyod, George Petty, Bob Zoell, Mick Haggerty, Lou Beach, Van Hamersveld, Ben Talbert, John Altoon, Jim Heimann, Mark Ryden, Dennis Mukai and others.

Alex Murawski, Bob Hickson, Mark Ryden, Brian Zick, David Willardson and accompanying studio, Jose Cruz, Kim Whitesides, and Mark Fredrickson,
What's So Funny, 1985, Mixed media, 18 inches x 10 feet

Mark Ryden, Untitled, ca. 1980's, Oil on board, Image: 9.5 x 8 inches; Framed: 14 x 12.5 inches

1959 Art Students at Chouinard Art Institute, from left to right: Joe Goode, Jerry McMillan, Ed Ruscha, Pat Blackwell

1965 "The Cool School" from left to right: Charlie White, Ed Ruscha, Joe Goode

Millard Sheets, Design for the Facade of Home Savings, Torrance, c. 1960, Watercolor on board
Signed by the artist on recto, Image: 11.5 x 32.5 inches

Millard Sheets, Design for the Mural at the Former Home Savings, Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, c. 1955
Gouache and watercolor on board, Annotated and signed by the artist’s son, Tony Sheets, in in on verso, Image: 19 x 27 inches

Millard Sheets, Design for the Facade Home Savings, 11234 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, c. 1959
Gouache on board, Annotated and signed by the artist’s son, Tony Sheets in 2003, in ink on recto, Image:19 x 36.75 inches

Millard Sheets, Design for the Mural at the Former Home Savings, 2600 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica, c. 1970
Gouache and watercolor, Annotated and signed by the artist’s son, Tony Sheets on verso, Image: 12.5 x 34 inches

John Van Hamersveld, Atomic Banana, 1970, Ink on photo stat paper render with rapidograph pen and ink
Signed on recto, Image: 26.5 x 18 inches

Charles White III, Egg on Floor, 1973, Acrylic airbrush on board
Signed on recto, Illustration for IDEA magazine cover, Japan
Image: 17.25 x 13.5 inches

Dennis Mukai, Going for Baroque, c. 1979-80, Acrylic airbrush on board
Signed on recto, Illustrated in Playboy, Image: 18 x 15 inches

Dave Willardson, Cigar Girl, 1985, Acrylic airbrush on board
Signed in ink on recto, Mock up illustration for Tribecca Cigars
Image: 30 x 15 inches; Framed: 31.25 x 16.75 inches

Mark Ryden, Untitled (Video Game Illustration), 1984
Acrylic on board, Signed in Acrylic on recto
Image: 32.5 x 26.5 inches; Framed: 45.5 x 39.75 inches

Charles White III, Michelen & Hill (Jukebox), 1972
Acrylic airbrush on board, Signed on recto
Illustration for Michlen & Hill poster, 27.75 x 16 inches

Charles White III, New Printing Press, 1981, Acrylic airbrush on board, Signed on recto, 19 x 28 inches

Dave Willardson, Hi Yo Nader, Acrylic airbrush on board, Signed in ink on recto
Illustration for political campaign poster commissioned by the Nadar Group
22.5 x 18.5 inches

Dave Willardson, Betty Page, 1985, Acrylic airbrush on board
Signed on recto, Christmas editorial illustration for LAX magazine, 40 x 30 inches

Peter Palombi, Nate’s Health Foods, 1974, Watercolor airbrush on board
Signed and dated on recto, Illustration promotional materials, 17 x 16.5 inches

Peter Palombi, L.A. Lakers, c. 1985
Acrylic airbrush on board, Signed on recto, 38 x 26 inches

Everett Peck, King Chicken, 1985, Acrylic on Arches paper, Editorial illustration for LAX magazine
23.75 x 31.25 inches

Tommy Steele, The Steve Miller Band - Abracadabra, 1992, Airbrush ink on board
Signed on verso, Album cover illustration for The Steve Miller Band, 14 x 14 inches

Lou Beach, Police, c. 1980, Mixed media collage, Album cover illustration for The Police
18.25 x 18 inches

Peter Lloyd, Bored, 1970, Airbrush on board, Signed on recto
Illustrated in OUI magazine, 15.5 x 12 inches

Patrick Nagel, Untitled (Bow and Arrow), c. 1975
Acrylic on board, Singed on recto
33.5 x 17.75 inches

Patrick Nagel, Untitled, c. 1980
Acrylic on board, Signed and annotated on recto
Illustration for Playboy; stamps on verso
22 x 15 inches

Margo Nahas, Hard Rock Hotel, Hawaii, c. 1989
Airbrush and multimedia on board, Announcement illustration for Hard
Rock Hotel, Hawaii
19 x 13.5 inches

Len Steckler, Untitled, 1950, Watercolor on canvas
Singed in pencil on recto, Illustrated in Ladies Home Journal
16.75 x 23 inches

Bob Zoell, Indian, circa 1978
cell-vinyl/c, Signed on recto
Image: 11.5 x 8.5 in; Framed: 23.25 x 19.75 in


At Bergamot Station Arts Center      Santa Monica California