Striving with the Divine

with Regina JacobsonSimon Kogan and Duncan Simcoe - all premiering new artworks.

Striving with the Divine curators statement

Like it or not, most of us are striving on many different levels for the majority of our existence. We fight the daily battles of life, some overwhelmingly ocean sized and others inconsequential puddles, but still they drench us with discouragement, angst and frustration. Our human striving affects our inmost beings; our minds, bodies and souls.

    Early in 2012, after a long struggle, our friend and fellow Los Angeles curator, Ron Lopez committed suicide just few days before the brilliant Mike Kelly also took his own life -- despite all the successes of their careers. The age-old question of “Why?” fills our minds. "Why do people suffer?”  How often do we take our frustrations and blame it all on “God”? Natural disasters are called "acts of God” after all.  If one does not believe God exists, then, whom else can we blame?

    Trying to set the world straight during the horrific evils of Nazi Germany, the German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer strove against his fellow man and his belief inlove and forgiveness while simultaneously plotting the assassination of Hitler, for which he was later executed. William Wilberforce spent his life, 1785 – 1833 in England, striving against the darkest evils of slavery and hearts of men, effects of which we are still struggling to right today.

The persistent question has to be "why does God not act, intervene and make the world right?" Or, in the inimitable voice of the late Douglas Adams in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, "Who is this god-person, anyway?"

     This emotional and physical striving is ever a part of our human experience. A 2012 LA Times article questioned: "would thinking analytically undermine religious belief as it overrides intuitive thought?" But, the idea that the spiritual/intuitive might balance the analytical does lance at our hearts, certainly if they are hearts of flesh and not of stone. A Physical Therapist always exercises both opposing muscles in order to restore complete mobility and health. Why should this not also be true of the mind? Our three divergent artists all pose questions about balance. The honest narratives bare the tension and struggle presented by difficult choices and opposing forces. How are we to contend in this world that we don’t completely understand and can’t fully analyze?  We are drawn in to commiserate and participate in these beautifully haunting personal dramas.

Regina Jacobson’s paintings capture the moment of refection in the striving -- the combination of attraction and submission to something greater holding the strings of control.

Simon Kogan’s sculptures and hand pulled stone lithograph prints, along with his new experiment mixed media sculptural installations, painfully reflect the inner man striving with the greater powers as something in their eyes focus out into a deeper space beyond. 

Duncan Simcoe’s powerful tar paper “black drawings” calmly display the situation like a film that pans the set, to give us a clue to the challenges that will come as the story reveals itself in its own time.

In a lecture about composer John Adams, “The gospel according to the other Mary” (for the LA Philharmonic) Peter Sellers shared “Blades of grass do just fine and flourish, while people screw up their own lives…John has written music for entering and leaving the world...(forcing us into) dealing with your own spiritual life. …Those moments where we all go to our deepest spaces – whether we want to or not.”

 We invite you to strive with us. 


(LA Times "Analysis can undermine religious faith, study says" 4/27/12)
 "How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in your life you will have been all of these."
~ George Washington Carver
Psalm 46:10
“Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth
You're gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You're gonna have to serve somebody,
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you're gonna have to serve somebody.
~ Bob Dylan


Regina Jacobson

luscious figurative oil paintings question the fashion industry, how it molds society, and enslaves the hearts of our children.

Jacobson, works in progress...

Simon Kogan

Truth, soul and unpretentious sophistication characterize the work of artist Simon Kogan. Born in Russia, he received 13 years of classical academic training in Moscow, includinga MFA as well as an apprenticeship under renowned sculptor Isaac Brodsky.

Since immigrating to the U.S. in 1991, he has steadily risen to national prominence as a sculptor whose widely acclaimed work – monumental to miniature – reflects a bold, yet poetic pursuit of the archetypal and renders an ethereal quality highly resonant with the viewer. A Fellow of the National Sculpture Society, Simon Kogan has long shared his artistic passion through the teaching of sculpture, painting, anatomy and drawing in the U.S. and abroad.

Simon Kogan artist statement:

Creating art is difficult.

An incredible amount of understanding is needed: from knowledge of the history, tools and techniques of art to a knowledge of how we, as artists, fit into the grander scheme.

It is in a state of honed but empty readiness that the mystery of creativity may find expression through us.

If it does, it will be powerful, it will touch, and it will have life. It will then be worthy of the term “art.”

Duncan Simcoe

My heart also instructs me in the night seasons – Ps. 16
The primary purpose of religious or artistic endeavor is to refine and develop the minds ability to perceive the subtle depths of life. -The Hindu Vision

Duncan Simcoe 2013  artist's statement: The Black Drawings are brush drawings on tar-paper. They grew out of an admiration for the work of Goya and a need to work with a drawing –oriented medium that could realize images more quickly than the often laborious process of making traditional paintings. Although begun as a vehicle to facilitate a long-running meditation on Abraham and progeny, I found other content embedded in the nature of the tar paper as I worked with it, eventually giving birth to the Mythinburbia pieces.

The Black Drawings/Mythinburbia are a way for me to examine and convey the experience of what it was like living in a strongly horizontal environment in Suburban So. California.  At a certain point, I became aware of the tension between the horizontal/normal nature of the suburban-scape, it’s rituals of uniformity and the powerfully vertical nature of the mythic imagery I absorbedfrom the Bible, TV or even comic books.