DOWNEY - In contrast with its predominant image as a small town that once played a key role in space exploration, the city of Downey continues to produce acclaimed and accomplished artists. This month's Art on the Vine exhibit, sponsored by the Downey Arts Coalition and Mari's Wine Bar, will feature the paintings of local artist and poet Roy Anthony Shabla.The opening night reception is Saturday, Oct. 8, at 6:30 p.m. Shabla, an alumnus of St. Raymond and St. John Bosco High School, works on large canvasses that display rich subtleties of color and design achieved through complex technique and skill. He describes his work as "non-narrative in format." Depending on the viewer, a piece may suggest the skyline of New York or a beautiful piece of silk and linen fabric. Complementing these technically detailed pieces are works from a series he calls "Jazz Poems" - beautiful swirls and curls that resemble handwriting, but also suggest the movement of sound. Shabla's studio is his Downey home, with custom flooring to facilitate his work and special racks to accommodate the completed canvasses. Eighteen pieces of Shabla's new and recent work will be on display for the month of October. A special crew was needed on site at Mari's to stretch the largest piece (14' x 8') on its frame because it was too big to be transported by most vehicles. Visitors at Saturday night's reception will also enjoy a multimedia installation with two documentary films about Shabla at work. One film will be on the big screen at Mari's, with the other film showing on a monitor. Warren High graduate Gabriel Armenta will also be performing live improvisation with his band VVHIT FUZZ. Shabla says he was interested in art from the time he was a child. The series "Jazz Poems" was inspired by his desire to imitate the cursive writing of his parents when he was about 4 years old. "I thought they were doing magic," he recalls. His mother, a nurse, often took her children to museums and had her own creative interests. Developing a deep interest in poetry as he grew older, Shabla's website acknowledges the influence of Gerald Locklin, "father of the Long Beach style of poetry" and a professor at California State University at Long Beach. Shabla is also a friend of Grammy winner Dave Alvin, another Downey homeboy who also worked with Locklin at CSULB and often recounts Locklin's influence on his songwriting. After spending time in Europe painting and writing, Shabla eventually returned to Downey to make his home. "It draws me back," he jokes. "I travel the world, but I can't get away." While his home is in Downey, Shabla's work is shown and sold throughout California. Shabla's writing reflects a deeply spiritual person, voicing the importance of "kindness, generosity, and hospitality" as well as support for peace and human rights. His home expresses his artistic and world outlook. Enlarged copies of his poetry greet the visitor at the door, and meandering pathways invite meditative walks through the garden. For those who can not attend the opening on Saturday, Shabla's work will be up for the month at Mari's Wine Bar. Local food store Fresh & Easy and Avenue Press are also contributors to this growing effort to promote local artists.
********** Published: October 06, 2011 - Volume 10 - Issue 25