Spread the love

Locals Experienced Martin Lawrence’s Art at Local Orange County Gallery

Written By: Elaine Morgan Cutting
Photographed By: Ian Robinson Martin Lawrence Gallery

The brightly colored, faceless paintings of Mark Kostabi hung in sleek black frames along the walls of the Martin Lawrence Galleries in South Coast Plaza as a steadily increasing crowd of people walked the wooden floors on Saturday night, observing and commenting with none other than Kostabi himself. This fantastic Meet and Greet with artist Mark Kostabi was arranged by the gallery as a proclamation to the man himself, who not only has significantly furthered the art profession with his advancements, but is also a Southern California native. Although he splits his time between New York and Rome now, Kostabi attended California State University, Fullerton’s School of Art and will always remember Whittier, where he grew up, as home.

Kostabi is well known for his wide variety of impressionist paintings, perhaps the most famous being the cover of the Gun N’ Roses album, Use Your Illusion. Beyond his paintings, Kostabi has been on “The Oprah Winfrey Show, ” MTV and other talk shows; hosted his own television show; and even had his own advice column. He’s also pursuing a talent for music as a pianist and composer. Everything he does revolves around his passion for art and the connections it creates. Martin Lawrence Gallery

“It’s a dialogue, ” says Kostabi. “People will be looking at it and thinking about it and talking about it and [I want] to continue the dialogue and say interesting things.” And Kostabi certainly carried out this desire Saturday night. The artist gladly struck genuine conversation with his guests, friends and strangers. Martin Lawrence Gallery

Open to the public, the hope of the evening was to bring people in and get them excited about art in a casual yet sophisticated atmosphere. Located in the middle of South Coast Plaza amidst the Apple store and H&M, Martin Lawrence Galleries is an inviting and friendly space with soft wooden floors and striking colored walls. The employees call themselves “Art Advisors” rather than salesmen. “We let people interact with the art and then counter their thoughts with what the artist was thinking.” Says advisor Ximena Zuniga.   Martin Lawrence Gallery

True to this relational and interactive spirit, the evening was more of a formal loitering than a ritzy gala event. When asked what he was hoping from the night, Kostabi replied with a simple “I’m hoping to see my brother Allan. And I’m hoping to see one of my favorite people and one of my favorite art teachers who I still am friends with, Don Lagerberg.” Martin Lawrence Gallery

Both guests did arrive and were eager to share their thoughts of and experiences with Kostabi. “I’ve seen [his art] change and grow from simple line drawing to elaborate murals, ” says Allan. “It’s good to see his work with notable artists like Picasso!”   Martin Lawrence Gallery

The refreshments were light, perfect for a small taste in between deep bits of conversation. The event was catered by Angelina’s Pizzeria Napoletana, who served hors d’oeuvres such as their famous burrata meatballs, prosciutto melons, and gorgonzola sausage. The gallery also hosted drinks from Inspired Art Wine in Costa Mesa with selections chosen by customers specifically for sipping while interacting with the art. Martin Lawrence Gallery

Later in the evening, the Mayor of Costa Mesa, Stephen Mensinger, presented Kostabi with a framed proclamation of his services to the Orange County area. Mensinger spoke of how proud he was of the rich cultural background that Costa Mesa held and how honored he was to be presenting this award to Kostabi. To which Kostabi retaliated with what an honor it was to have the mayor present at an art event, and took a poll from the audience as to if he should hang the framed award in his home in New York or his home in Rome. Martin Lawrence Gallery

Mensinger expressed his pleasure in the event later, saying “It’s extraordinary art. I’m completely overwhelmed. [Kostabi] has won so many awards, he’s truly a visionary for impressionist art.” At the end of the evening, the gallery hosted a raffle, the prize for which was a large book of the collection of Kostabi’s fantastical works with dialogue, the perfect companion to a night discussing about and with the man himself. Martin Lawrence Gallery

“There’s a kind of romance in his art, ” says Don Lagerberg, Kostabi’s former instructor at California State University, Fullerton. “They’re energetic but there’s a wisp of melancholy. The forms are classical, relative to older art with a lot of elegance and a hint of art deco.” This mix of elegance and energy shone perfectly on Saturday, giving guests a little peak, and a deeper connection with the man behind the painting. By the end of the night, guests walked away with the warm feeling of meeting a new friend. Martin Lawrence Gallery

Martin Lawrence Galleries: Costa Mesa
3333 Bear Street Martin Lawrence Gallery
Costa Mesa, CA 92626 Martin Lawrence Gallery
949.759.0134 Martin Lawrence Gallery
Martin Lawrence Galleries: Costa Mesa Hosts Renowned Artist Mark Kostabi Martin Lawrence Gallery Costa Mesa