Free Art Opening at La Luz de Jesus Art Gallery

The Final Aspersion, 2018, oil on canvas, 64.75" x 121.5", $33,000, by Matthew Couper, the largest work in Couper's exhibition In Memory of Water at La Luz de Jesus gallery in Los Angeles on Friday, May 3, 2019. Two shows are running at La Luz de Jesus from May 3 to June 2: Matthew Couper's solo exhibition In Memory of Water, and the group portrait show Onward featuring artists Michele Melcher, Baldur Helgason, Yeo Kaa, Valery Pobjoy, and Sung Jik Yang. (Glenn Zucman/The Corsair)

The Final Aspersion, 2018, oil on canvas, 64.75" x 121.5", $33,000, by Matthew Couper, the largest work in Couper's exhibition In Memory of Water at La Luz de Jesus gallery in Los Angeles on Friday, May 3, 2019. Two shows are running at La Luz de Jesus from May 3 to June 2: Matthew Couper's solo exhibition In Memory of Water, and the group portrait show Onward featuring artists Michele Melcher, Baldur Helgason, Yeo Kaa, Valery Pobjoy, and Sung Jik Yang. (Glenn Zucman/The Corsair)

Art gallery La Luz de Jesus' new art opening debuted on May 3, and runs through June 2. One room features a debut solo exhibition by Matthew Couper, and a second room holds a group exhibition titled “Onward.”

Free art openings at La Luz de Jesus take place on the first Friday of every month. Some of their past art exhibits have featured Robert Williams, SHAG, and Manuel Ocampo. La Luz de Jesus is a champion in the lowbrow art community, and has been displaying art in the Hollywood area since 1986.

Man with Hat, 2019, oil on birch wood in antique Victorian frame, 9" diameter, $850, by Michele Melcher, in the group portrait exhibition Onward at La Luz de Jesus gallery in Los Angeles on Friday, May 3, 2019. Melcher's husband Brian Isserman described that they shop for the antique frames first, then prepare a wood panel to fit the frame, and then Melcher begins her painting. Two shows are running at La Luz de Jesus from May 3 to June 2: Matthew Couper's solo exhibition In Memory of Water, and the group portrait show Onward featuring artists Michele Melcher, Baldur Helgason, Yeo Kaa, Valery Pobjoy, and Sung Jik Yang. (Glenn Zucman/The Corsair)

Man with Hat, 2019, oil on birch wood in antique Victorian frame, 9" diameter, $850, by Michele Melcher, in the group portrait exhibition Onward at La Luz de Jesus gallery in Los Angeles on Friday, May 3, 2019. Melcher's husband Brian Isserman described that they shop for the antique frames first, then prepare a wood panel to fit the frame, and then Melcher begins her painting. Two shows are running at La Luz de Jesus from May 3 to June 2: Matthew Couper's solo exhibition In Memory of Water, and the group portrait show Onward featuring artists Michele Melcher, Baldur Helgason, Yeo Kaa, Valery Pobjoy, and Sung Jik Yang. (Glenn Zucman/The Corsair)

This month's solo exhibition by Matthew Couper features one room full of his paintings, all inspired by ecological water systems. The gallery's director Matthew Gardocki says that Couper is from New Zealand, and currently resides in Las Vegas. The exhibit is titled "In Memory of Water."

Couper explains that one of the issues the Southwest faces is water conservation, sustainability, and rights. His choice to live in Las Vegas landed him in the center of the water rights debate.

"Las Vegas is a desert, which is not sustainable. Lake Mead, the biggest human-made reservoir [in the USA] has its water being distributed from that, and it is going to Los Angeles or Arizona … and practically everywhere is unsustainable water wise," explains Couper. "Taking water out of the ecosystem constantly and sending it around the world to sell for a capital gain, that is going to screw your own system.”

The visual influence in Couper's artwork in this exhibition comes from Mexican folk art. Couper’s work pays homage to Mexican history, noting that prior to 1848, the modern southwest region of the U.S. was a part of Mexico.

The group show in the next room is called “Onward.” Michele Melcher, one of the artists featured in that exhibit, flew to Los Angeles for this art opening. "Some big artists come through this gallery, so it is pretty much an honor to be included. I am following in their footsteps, or I hope so," says Melcher.

Melcher often works as an illustrator and participates in gallery shows. Some of her inspiration for her paintings comes from folklore, legends, history, natural science and the supernatural.

There are plenty of other free art shows coming up at “La Luz de Jesus”. Starting on June 7, they will feature Symbiotics, an exhibit where five artists will use language, and symbols to tell stories in their paintings.

“La Luz de Jesus” is located at 4633 Hollywood Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90027