Santa Monica, California, Febrero 20 - Marzo 14.

The “beinArt Surreal Art Show 2016” is currently on view at Copro Gallery in Santa Monica, CA. True to the spirit of the collective, the show spotlights such luminaries in the new contemporary art movement as Greg “Craola” Simkins, Josh Keyes, Pamela Wilson, Martin Wittfooth, Jana Brike, Esao Andrews and Travis Louie as well as such up-and-comers as Maria Teichler, Hannah Faith Yata and Redd Walitzki. This is the fifth group show curated for the collective by Jon Beinart at Copro Gallery, which is owned by Greg Escalante (who has been referred to by the Los Angeles Times as “L.A.’s patron saint of underground art”) and directed by Gary Pressman.

Beinart curated the first show for the beinArt Collective at the gallery in 2010. He had long had an eye on the gallery as a place to show the artists in the collective, and serendipitously, Pressman got in touch with him. “I suspect someone put in a good word for me,” Beinart says. But in fact, Pressman had recognized Beinart as an ideal resource for bringing what he wanted to Copro. “I like surrealism, and it’s hard to get in contact with the international surreal artists. Jon has that.”

The collective was started as an online community in 2003 by Beinart in an effort to bring together artists who are highly technically skilled but whose strange imagery put their work outside the mainstream. The membership eventually grew to be quite large, with over 600 featured artists at its peak, but recently, Beinart scaled the membership back as he relaunched the website. The new list is more reflective of Beinart’s personal taste, which has evolved over the years.

He looks for a number of qualities in prospective members. “I’m definitely obsessed with work that is impressive on a technical level, but beyond that, I like very imaginative stuff; I like artists who have found their own voice.” He also acknowledges that he is particularly drawn to dark imagery that depicts the anomalous.

Maintaining the collective is no small task. Artist Robert Steven Connett says that others have tried over the years to do what Beinart has, only to flag when the effort and the need to secure funding became more than they could bear. Beinart is the only one he has seen success. “He’s one of those rare people who likes to surround himself with art in every way,” says Connett, “and he does the work. We need people like him.”

Hard work carries one only so far, though: There has to be a vision behind the effort, and Beinart has that. Carrie Ann Baade calls Beinart a pioneer. A professor in the Department of Art at Florida State University as well as a member of the collective since 2006, Baade lectures about Beinart and the “internet frontier.”

“Artists are willing to be in this group because of the exposure but also because it’s taste-driven,” states Baade, who also cites the level of technique as an important criterion for inclusion. Beinart levels the playing field by including emerging artists alongside those who are more established. “He took artists from different countercultures that had been marginalized and placed them side by side, which created a community where emerging artists were placed alongside the established. In doing so, he significantly strengthened the attention and awareness to professional artists of imagination.” This not only helped bring attention to artists undiscovered by the world at large but also helped artists find each other. In an article she is writing for her university, she states that “Prior to this time, artists would have been reclusive and thought that they were the ‘only person on Earth’ doing what they do. This was a unique moment in history when these artists of imagination saw each other, like someone had turned on a single bulb in the dark.”

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