Shockboxx spotlights local artists with the eclectic and unexpected
Written by Constance Dunn
Nestled amid the design studios and body shops of Cypress Avenue in Hermosa Beach is a gallery signaling a big step forward for the South Bay art scene. Opening its doors earlier this year, Shockboxx is the brainchild of artists Laura Schuler and Mike Collins, who saw a local need for just such an independent gallery. “There wasn’t an existing space for artists to show,” Schuler says of the duo’s decision to open the gallery. “There’s a really cool art scene in Hermosa Beach,” adds Collins. “And there’s a lot of artists in Hermosa, Manhattan, Redondo.” Lots of artists, but not many places where they can show their work to the local community.
After securing the location, the duo was undecided on its ultimate use. Studio space? Gallery? “As we started to do the buildout,” says Collins, “the space revealed itself to be a gallery more than a studio.” Located in the midst of the Beach Cities’ artistic-industrial-creative neighborhood known as Cypress District, Schuler and Collins enjoy free rein when it comes to doing what they want creatively. “We have the freedom to come up with whatever we want,” says Schuler, adding, “Our shows are very specific.”
Specific not just in theme but also in allowing artists, many of them colleagues, to stretch beyond their tried-and-true themes or mediums. “That’s the shock part of Shockboxx,” describes Collins. “We want the art community and the patrons to know that if you come to one of our shows, we’re not going to repeat ourselves.”
Indeed. Their first show, “Break the System,” invited Hermosa artists LG Givot and Josh Barnes to christen the place by painting the walls in vivid scenes. “Off with Their Heads” explored the concept of heroes and villains, inviting artists working in mediums ranging from computer art and assemblage to sculpture and photography. We stopped by during “Shark Week,” when the walls were covered by local artists’ takes on the fish.
Collins and Schuler ultimately aim for Shockboxx to go beyond the role of traditional gallery and be a creative community resource, including everything from film screenings, book releases and even underground dining events with local chefs. “The thing we’ll do over and over again is something different,” states Collins.
Note: Mark your calendars for Sept. 9, when Shockboxx opens an Ed Moses tribute show; inviting artists will pay homage to the trailblazing Venice artist’s brand of abstract painting. “Ed came from a group of artists that are credited with putting the Los Angeles art scene on the map in the late 50s and early 60s,” says Collins.