Charles Swenson

Event  |  Reviews  |  Comments
Charles Swenson
Curated by: Teale Hatheway

431 West Seventh Street
Los Angeles, California 90014
January 21st, 2013 - March 16th, 2013
Opening: January 23rd, 2013 7:00 PM - 10:00 PM

downtown/east la
Monday-Friday 9:30AM-Midnight; Saturday 6PM-Midnight; Sunday 11AM-4PM


Barbara West at the Brewery

620 Moulton Ave #110 . Los Angeles . California . 90031


 For Immediate Release


Contact Teale Hatheway



Charles Swenson

January 23 – March 16, 2013


Opening Wednesday, January 23, 7-10 pm


Barbara West at the Brewery is pleased to present a high-contrast selection of gender charged paintings by Charles Swenson.  These paintings represent two branches of Swenson’s art interest - his wife’s shoes and a set of toy soldiers.


“My wife’s shoes, all women’s shoes, have a wonderfully decadent, fetish-y quality that I love, especially the high-heeled variety, they look dangerous and delicious at the same time,” explains Swenson. These particular paintings of shoes are lyrical. The viewer is uncertain whether the shoes are floating, falling or flying, but they make Swenson, and indeed the rest of us shoe-lovers, smile. They are delightful: feminine, joyous, new and shiny (and useful to boot!).


By comparison, the soldiers represent an opposing point of view. Painted from a set of actual toys, they are bought on-line, photographed and then represented much larger than life sized. “They are masculine, guy toys, war toys, stoic and sad, used and abused… They hold a consciousness that is all these things and also a little comic at the same time,” says Swenson, who has made them heroic, as though they were portraits of real men. Ultimately, these toys say something about war: the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual toll that fighting with guns and killing has on every soldier.


This is the first time the two series have been exhibited in the same space and as Swenson observes, “Male and female, masculine and feminine, this is the push-pull of society, this is the tension that I try to get to. This is what makes the world turn, and it makes it worth hanging around, just to watch the dance.” But the friction in these paintings runs deeper than gender. Perfunctory shoes become celebratory confetti and children’s toys become solemn icons of an uncertain future. It is a dance to be certain, but exactly who leads is anyone’s guess.



Barbara West at the Brewery is a series of rotating exhibitions, developed by Teale Hatheway, taking place at Barbara’s, the restaurant/bar hidden in the heart of the Brewery Arts Complex. The Brewery is considered the world’s largest live-work arts complex with an estimated 500 resident and day-use artists representing every field of creation.  Barbara’s provides a welcoming environment for artists, art lovers, musicians, writers and business people to meet, exchange ideas and cut a little loose. As a curatorial project, Barbara West at the Brewery provides a forum for resident and non-resident artists who are actively pursuing creative development. Additional information about Barbara West at the Brewery can be found by visiting us on



Directions: From North Main Street, turn South onto Moulton Avenue. Turn left into the second driveway on the left, onto the Brewery property. Barbara's is the yellow building directly ahead of you with the neon "open" sign. Parking is free.