Wednesday, December 6, 2023
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​California Curators – to keep on your radar

California has a lively and blossoming art scene. Southern California in particular has, over the last several years, begun to claw its way out of the shadow of New York, shrugging off the stigma of a place awash in nothing but superficial glitter and establishing itself as a major hub of contemporary art. Los Angeles has become an internationally renowned city of art and artists with a flourishing gallery life and a host of up and coming art world influencers. Where there is art there are curators, and this is very much the case in California. There is a growing roster of respected art curators shaping the west coast art sphere. Here is a round-up of some of the top curators in the golden state. If you are wondering how to connect with any of these curators, read the post about just that here.

Gloria Plascencia
Plascencia began her career as a professional fine arts photographer in 2010. Since then, she has had a rapid rise to success as both an independent artist and a curator for some of the top galleries in Los Angeles. Plascencia has curated at Gallery H, Torrance Art Museum, and Zask Gallery to name just a few.

Charlie Adamski
This Viennese curator and lifelong world traveler now serves as the Vice President of post-war and contemporary art for Christies, San Francisco. In her twenties, Adamski spent six years with Christie’s in New York before making the move to the west coast. Adamski studied Art History and Business in college and, early in her career felt the pull of the auction world.

Osceola Refetoff
Chicago native turned west coast curator and art photographer Refetoff describes his work as “documenting humanity’s impact on the world.” Refetoff is a busy photographer as well as curator and operator of Chungking Studios located in Los Angeles’ Chinatown. Chungking is part studio, part rental space for photographers and filmmakers, and part gallery. Refetoff frequently collaborates with Shana Nys Dambrot among others.

Jason Ostro
The son of an artist who taught him to paint growing up, Ostro previously worked in the music and fashion industries before settling into the art world. He owns and operates Gabba Gallery in Los Angeles’ Koreatown where the focus is on established and emerging artists with an emphasis on street art. Ostro began collecting and dealing street art while still working in fashion. This led to his career switch and the establishment of Gabba Gallery.

Juana Berrio
The co-founder and artistic director of now closed Kiria Koula Gallery in San Francisco’s Mission District, these days Berrio-who has an international background-works as an independent curator of contemporary art. Berrio holds two master’s degrees in visual arts and cultural studies of contemporary art and previously served as a research assistant for the 55th Venice Beinnale under the direction of Massimiliano Gioni.

Max Presneill
A contemporary abstract painter and curator, Presneill serves as the director/curator of the Torrance Museum of Art. Curation is visible everywhere throughout his body of work. His paintings, it has been said, “reflect a curatorial model of selection and placement. Originally from the U.K., Presneill has exhibited around the world.

Courtney Strimple Colman
After studying art history and earning a master’s degree, Colman began her career at New York’s Mixed Greens Gallery as Exhibitions Director. She made the move to the west coast along with her husband and opened her own art advisory business. Colman has said in the past that she prefers “working with a living artist” which as shaped her decisions to pursue contemporary and gallery work as opposed to museums.

Peggy Sivert Zask
An established artist and co-curator of Zask Gallery in Los Angeles, Sivert Zask helped to create and curate a show reflecting the divides in the 2016 election cycle. The resulting show, titled Dear President: an Art Show about Important American Issues was on display at South Bay Contemporary where Sivert Zask is gallery director.

Micki Meng
Since 2010, Meng has served as Assistant Director of the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts. There the Texas native works with artists in residence, and curates multiple programs throughout the year. Meng believes that art can take many forms, not all of them beautiful and has said in the past that artists have the power to “alter your reality.”

Kristine Schomaker
A new media and performance artist, as well as painter and art historian, Schomaker recently founded Shoebox PR, a public relations firm that focuses on helping artists establish a presence within the art world. She lives and works at Brewery Artist Complex in Los Angeles and holds degrees in art history and studio art. Schomaker has taught art history and curated a number of shows. She serves as president of the Brewery Artwalk Association and is the social media coordinator for Southern California Women’s Caucus of Art.



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