Co-op 7 says 'What's up?'

Co-op 7, a group of almost fifty artists who support artistic and spiritual growth, presented artwork from five of their members in the latest exhibition "What's up?" at the Schomburg Gallery Saturday evening.

The five exhibiting artists were Adria Becker, Abira Breskal, Selina Cheng, Susan Gesundheit, and Eileen Hecht, whose art was made with watercolors, oil and picture collages.

Half of the paintings were expressions of nature, painted with bright and strong watercolors, capturing how nature’s colors flow together.

The other half were paintings of women, with the artist’s focal point being to capture the essence of the person they painted.

Hecht has been painting for over 50 years and exhibited three paintings of women.

“With people, there is an essence of emotion that I try to capture,” said Hecht. “This essence is more interesting for me to capture at the time than doing paintings of nature.”

The founding members of Co-op 7 were students of the late Alexander Vilumsons, a professor and artist who passed away in 1985.

Jeanne Hahn, artistic director of Co-op 7 and one of the founding members, took over the group after Vilumsons' passing. She described the group as a legacy of Vilumsons' work and philosophy about the artistic methods of self-discovery.

According to Hahn, Co-op stands for collaboration, a high idea that helps everyone involved. The philosophy behind Co-op is that new members give the other members new energy and pass their artistic and theoretic knowledge back to the new members.

"This philosophy is the foundation of our group and probably why we have been a group for so long and continue to grow," Hahn said.

Hahn has studied painting and drawing for 11 years and is now a teacher at the American Jewish University, which offers art classes.

Together with other members from Co-op 7, Hahn teaches watercolor painting and right brain figure drawing, as well as other painting and drawing classes.

“We have been a group for a long time and have a good group dynamic,” Hahn said. “Some of these members are more like family members.”

Exhibition visitor Lily Milash was appreciative of both the art and the artists.

“There are some pieces that I love and could see in my home,” she said. “I especially love that the artists are so open and easy talk to, and walk you through their artworks.”

“I was actually just stopping by, and got curious when I saw the spiral staircase,” said Tracy Swartz, a first-time visitor. “I haven’t been in the gallery before, but I am really enjoying the art that is exhibited and the ambiance in the room.”

According to Cheng, the exhibition is named "What's Up?" because the gallery is located above a shop, after climbing a spiral staircase, and visitors who stumbled upon the staircase while walking through the shop would ask, "what's up?"

Susan Schomburg, director of the gallery, opened the doors to this small, somewhat hidden space in 2001. The site previously belonged to Bruce Lee’s daughter, Shannon Lee, who used the space to write, according to Schomburg.

The Schomburg gallery is located on the second floor of Building E of the Bergamot Station Arts Center at 2525 Michigan Ave., E3A, in Santa Monica. The exhibition is free to the public and will be open for viewing through April 6.