Thursday, October 27, 2011

Variations on a Googie Theme

LAX Theme Building from Parking Lot (2011) by Danny Heller

With brilliant hues and broad design, the exploration of light and space is a principle feature to Los Angeles art, capturing the fleeting instant of time in a flash of opulent color. Likewise, a fascination with novelty and "futurism" is integral to the city's ever-changing appearance.

Danny Heller's "LAX Series" solo show at the George Billis Gallery explores both of these elements. In a series of ten paintings, he examines the iconic Theme Building under widely different lighting conditions and from a variety of perspectives, bringing out the geometric nuances with subtle gradations of flowing illumination. A masterpiece of Googie architecture, the Theme Building has a unique structure that lends itself to such a study.

Heller is an accomplished regionalist painter who is well practiced at capturing the look and feel of the Southern Californian environment, be it busy cityscapes or quiet scenes of suburbia, evoking an authentic sense of place. The "LAX Series" is an ambitious project in that each work needs to express significant differences of character and mood, conveying distinct experiences in perceiving the subject, but it also needs to maintain a cohesive commonality through which comparative assessments of the individual paintings may be formed.

Theme Building and Road (2011) by Danny Heller

It's tough to accomplish, but I think Heller scores the goal with these paintings. If the premise of such a series is to impart the painter's experience of a structure through both sight and physical presence, then these works accomplish the job, allowing the viewer to share in the aesthetic insights signified by the overall composition.

For instance, Heller repeats vantage points on occasion, depicting the Theme Building both by day and by night. Because of the dramatic variation of light and color, the experience of mood and place is radically different even if the compositional structure is identical.

LAX Theme Build Loading Dock (2010) by Danny Heller

It's an interesting series and a strong development in Heller's progress as an artist. I recommend this exhibition.

Danny Heller's "LAX Series" is on exhibit at the George Billis Gallery until November 12, 2011.



  1. There's something comforting to me about that 1950s futuristic look. But this actually exists! Fantastic artwork by Heller.

  2. Yeah, I really enjoy that "Jet Age/Space Age" style of midcentury modern architecture as well. There are examples scattered all over Southern California, especially the designs of William Pereira.