Dennis Miranda, a 21-year-old artist from Mexico City, has been creating quite a buzz in our local art scene over the past few months, and tonight he makes his first solo debut at In Heroes We Trust from 6 to 9 p.m., followed by a reception at Budman Studio.
If his name sounds familiar, you might recognize it from seeing stories and events at the Lincoln & Rose Holiday Pop-Up that we hosted November through December. Over a six-week period we took over a vacant space in the Rose Center, a mini retail strip literally located at the corner of Lincoln Blvd. and Rose Ave, and better recognized for its Checks Cashed than gifty boutiques. We showcased an array of local makers who were already part of our online Marketplace, and we continuously added new items from artists who were introduced from a friend of a friend or who simply walked in to show us their work. This is where Dennis' story and ours intertwine.
Dennis and his cousins stopped in during their lunch break and asked if we would consider looking at a few of his paintings. He's been filling portfolio books every day for the past six years and completed one year of art school in Mexico City before moving to L.A. to work with his cousins, but he said his dream is to be an artist. Dennis presented a small journal with "Portraits" in Spanish on the cover that held dozens of colorful and intricately textured collaged paintings.
Over the next few days, customers gravitated toward his pieces and asked the story behind them, including one man visiting from out of town with his family. As we wrapped up a brooding silhouette of what resembled Our Lady of Guadalupe and relayed as much as we knew about the 21-year-old and his journal of portraits, the man's son said that his father recognizes talent. He used to own a gallery on Abbot Kinney before it was Abbot Kinney, he said.
There was a couple in Brooklyn, Jeff and Neena, who had recently moved from Venice. They popped into our shop vicariously through Instagram posts, and when they saw the photo of Dennis holding up a new batch of paintings, they messaged us to send them two for their new place – something dark and abstract.
The parade of nightmarish creatures in Dennis' prolific portfolio are not what you'd expect to see upon meeting the personable young artist who's always smiling through innocent eyes. His father once told him to tone down the blood and heavy subject matter if he wanted to make his art more approachable, but Dennis says that he puts down whatever comes to mind without overthinking it. Though, it's evident, even to a couple of art novices like us, that his work is wrought with emotion and his journey is one of passion and frequent transition. As a gift to us for showing his work at the pop-up and for introducing him to celebrated Venice artists including Jim Budman, he gave us a painting, one of his favorites he said. It was perfect – graphic and colorful with a rose at the heart of it - lovely, all of our favorite elements. He then explained that it represented the 43 Mexican college students who were abducted and murdered in southern Mexico in November.
As the pop-up came to a close, we hosted one hell of a grand finale party, our sixth event in six weeks. We were stop #36 on the Venice Art Crawl with a group of what had grown from 20 to 60 makers, including Sadie Gilliam, the creator of Freedumb Founded Jewelry doubling as bartender, and Block from Venice Originals Skateboards on the turntables. It was the culmination of everything we wanted our in-real-life version of Lincoln & Rose to be – neighbors and friends all mixed up together having a great time, and the hope was that more of this would follow in one way or another.
Tonight the spirit of that evening lives on as Jim Budman presents Dennis' first art show at In Heroes We Trust, a boutique just off Abbot Kinney on Westminster filled with local works from well-known Venice artists including Chase, Isabelle Alford-Lago. Since the beginning of January, Dennis has been creating new works at Budman Studio including some life-size pieces that will be on display. Following the show, there will be an after party at Budman Studio from 9:30 to 11:30. We will be there. Hopefully you will too, and we can't wait to see how this story continues.