La Luz De Jesus Gallery (US)

La Luz De Jesus Gallery: An Interview with Matt Kennedy

Time and time again, Circus Living has featured artists whose works exhibit macabre or morbid characteristics but what about the art galleries who work hard to promote these artists? What about the gallery owners and representatives who place a lot of effort into planning exhibitions, staging these artists' artworks, and ensuring their works are seen by interested art collectors?

I thought it was about time the art galleries who promote the artists who fit this type of niche - macabre and morbid art - are also featured. For Circus Living's 2nd art gallery feature, Matt Kennedy of La Luz de Jesus Gallery located in Los Angeles, California is featured.

I think that dark art appeals to the most primal instincts of our nature. As an aesthetic it can match fashion, interior design, music, and even literature so it suits lifestyle.
For art collectors interested in La Luz de Jesus Gallery located in Los Angeles, California, Matt Kennedy provides a glimpse of what to expect when you visit the gallery.

For travellers in Los Angeles catching one of La Luz de Jesus Gallery's exhibits looking for other attractions to visit, Matt suggests several unique must-see places.

For artists looking to exhibit their macabre artworks at La Luz de Jesus Gallery, Call for Artists info is also provided in this page to help you get started.

Looking for more art galleries exhibiting 'morbid' art?
Circus Living is compiling a list of morbid art galleries for you.

What is your full name and what is your role at La Luz de Jesus Gallery?

Matt Kennedy, gallery director. I am the curator, manager, and director of the gallery. I book the shows, choose the talent, sequence the installations and guide the artists.

How did La Luz de Jesus Gallery come to be? What inspired its development?

Entrepreneur and collector, Billy Shire had been selling ethnic folk art, prints and work by local artists at his family business, Soap Plant since the early 1970s. The Shires were an artistic family; father Hank was a master carpenter, brother Peter is an internationally celebrated ceramicist and metal worker, and Billy was a custom leather worker. After a particular robust collecting trip to Mexico to purchase Dia de los Muertos art for sale in the shop's new Melrose location in October 1986, Billy decided to dedicate the space upstairs to the arts. And thus, La Luz de Jesus Gallery was born.

What kind of shows does your art gallery exhibit? Based on your experience dealing with artists and art collectors, in your opinion, why do you think there is a fascination for the dark arts?

We exhibit figurative and narrative art exclusively. Sometimes we showcase self-taught, often art school grads, and sometimes international artists. After 31 years, the spectrum has widened significantly from the earliest folk art shows of Howard Finster and Manuel Ocampo to the birth of the lowbrow movement and early exhibitions by Robert Williams, Mark Ryden, and Joe Coleman to the first important survey of self-taught African American artists Sam Doyle, Purvis Young, and Roy Ferdinand Jr. I think that dark art appeals to the most primal instincts of our nature. As an aesthetic it can match fashion, interior design, music, and even literature so it suits lifestyle.

What can artists come to expect should they choose to show their works at your gallery? What can art collectors expect?

We have a rigorous submission process and our shows are generally booked years in advance, but we hold an open call for our group show every March and for the annual Coaster Show every September. We've developed a reputation as an egalitarian gallery that showcases highly technical and stylized art and for launching hundreds of careers. Artists can expect a higher level of attention than an emerging artist might otherwise be afforded, and collectors know our track record for success.

Are there any must-go-to locations, attractions, or events for travellers interested in the spooky or the unconventional around your area?

The LaBianca House is right here in Los Feliz, a neighborhood of incredible mid-century architectural wonders. The Hollyhock House by Frank Lloyd Wright is only a block away, and the Bladerunner House is maybe eight blocks away. Griffith Park is in the neighborhood, as is the Observatory made famous in Rebel Without a Cause. The Shakespeare Bridge is over on Franklin Ave just a few blocks away.

Does your gallery accept new artist works? Are there specific events whereby you require submissions? How can we stay updated on your gallery’s call for entries?

Definitely sign up for our mailing list: La Luz de Jesus Gallery's Mailing List. La Luz de Jesus Gallery reviews submissions for our annual group show Laluzapalooza from October 31st to January 31st, and for The Coaster Show from May 1st to July 31st. The rules for submission are here: La Luz de Jesus' Submission Policy

Do you have any tips or advice for artists looking to have their artwork displayed in your gallery?

Read the submission policy before submitting. I pretty much respond to anyone who follows the directions. I consider quality, size and price, which are all important for running a successful gallery. Just because something doesn't fit in one exhibition doesn't mean it won't ever fit, so if you get a rejection letter, be graceful.

Matt Kennedy, Gallery Director

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