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Kenton Parker in his treehouse, My First Kiss.
Kenton Parker in his treehouse, My First Kiss.
Photos by Zack Balber

Kenton Parker's Work at the Art and Culture Center of Hollywood Has a Touch of Whimsy

In a refreshing departure from art that's political, disturbing, or oh-so-serious, three new shows at the Art and Culture Center of Hollywood focus on "expressing small-scale emotions."

Take, for instance, Kenton Parker's work. The Los Angeles-based artist's show, "Everything Counts in Small Amounts," consists of small life-size structures where people dream and show gestures of friendship. A wooden treehouse will be open and inviting for children to climb in, lie down, and view a video of the night sky. "It's a little hideaway where you can go in with a friend to talk or watch videos," says Parker, who also likened it to a fun VIP room.

His other installation, called "Flower Shop," will be filled with potted plants and gardening tools, like ones sometimes seen by the side of the road. Viewers can peer into the structure, which was inspired by Parker's girlfriends, who remarked that he only gave them flowers when he was in trouble. The installation evokes the gentle life cycle of flowers and butterflies and reflects on the emotions and transitions of life — the familiar dramas of being close and then moving apart.

Parker says his work is about setting a stage for innocence, for steadfast friendship, for sharing and helping, and for letting go and moving on. His tributes to friendship and first love take place in modest structures that channel children's escapist fantasies of a hideaway, a special place in which they can dream, be themselves, invite their favorite friends, and be close to nature.

His work is "very fun," says Michelle Weinberg, the Art and Culture Center's artistic director.

In addition to the installations, Parker's paintings on canvas convey the artist's solitary early morning walks in California's countryside using pastel colors and gestural dots and marks.

"I think I am a positive person," he says, "and one good thing about me is that I see a glimmer of hope. I see that little bit of goodness."

Weinberg says that while his works are on view, the gallery will be converted into a landscape for contemplating friendship, sharing, and memory.

In the interactive gallery, visitors can create greeting cards — one to keep and one to share with future and even unknown gallery visitors. Handmade greeting cards that express simple, direct emotions are, according to Weinberg, cultural artifacts on the verge of obsolescence. Parker invites young and old alike to draw, add color, paint, and collage on a paper card, all in the service of wishing someone well. Friendship, love, good health, beautiful days, deep dreams, and slowing down to be part of nature happen all around us.

"Giving a gift is old-school," Weinberg says.

His flower shop, Always Sorry.
His flower shop, Always Sorry.
Photos by Zack Balber

In addition to Parker's work, Carmen Tiffany's show, "The Teeth Beneath," reconstructs memories by investigating the significance of childhood imagination in relation to destitute and isolated regions of American culture. Originally from Wyoming, Tiffany grew up seeking a connection to popular culture while being immersed in a world of wildlife, mountain ranges, and a big, starry sky. Carmen uses drawing, animation, and installation to create a connection between memory, forgotten lands, and visual culture.

"The works are very lively and colorful and childlike," says Weinberg. "They have an element of zaniness and vitality that children will respond to."

Now based in Miami, Tiffany works in video, animation, and drawing. She received her BFA from Minnesota State University in 2005 and her MFA from the University of South Florida in 2010.

In the exhibit "Selfie," Cuban-born, Miami-based artist Aurora Molina explores the egocentric tendencies of celebrity and how they play a transcendental role in the construction of new identities. Molina's embroidered works consider the repercussions of a society inflamed by spectacle and how that diminishes the traditional social roles of individuals. Her show features sculptural works rendered on an embroidery machine, showing how popular culture creates an insatiable need for attention and a disease-like dependence on acceptance at the expense of personal autonomy.

But the result is pleasing to behold.

"It's very accessible and adorable," Weinberg says.

Kenton Parker: "Everything Counts in Small Amounts"

Carmen Tiffany: "The Teeth Beneath"

Aurora Molina: "Selfie"

Opening reception 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, June 10. Show runs through August 21 at the Art and Culture Center of Hollywood, 1650 Harrison St., Hollywood. Call 954-921-3274, or visit artandculturecenter.org .

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