I stopped into the Spring Fling at Bergamot Art Station this past Saturday for a tiny sampling of all that this unique gallery complex has to offer. Spring Fling is extra fun; the doors swing open, the crowds swell in, people gather around the complimentary bar, dine at food trucks and enjoy music – a festive way to usher in the spring art season.

I had time to visit only four galleries: William Turner, Laura Korman, RoseGallery and Lois Lambert Gallery/Gallery of Functional Art.

William Turner announced that while waiting to mount its show honoring the 90th birthday of local legend Ed Moses in late April, the stunning Jimi Gleason exhibition “Surface and Light” will continue for a few more weeks. Gleason worked with Moses in his studio for five years.

Gleason’s work gleams, shimmers and shines, and in this barely lighted gallery the black floors reflect what feels like an inner glow. These are paintings, but they are made from a complex process that starts with a solid bar of silver, dissolved in concentrated nitric acid, creating silver nitrate (a solid). Additional technical processes create silver oxide, later dissolved in ammonium to create the final compound that he applies to the canvas.

In short, he turns a precious metal into a liquid then back into a solid again, and creates canvases that seem to radiate of their own accord. They’re made in lustrous deep colors, glowing golds, shades of blue, teal/green/aquamarines and burnished coppers. Then he divides the canvases into varying geometric planes and shades of those colors. It’s a nearly spiritual experience viewing these works in this space where they seem to float.

Check with William Turner Gallery www.williamturnergallery.com for days and hours. Don’t miss this show now that it’s been extended.

Going in circles

Laura Korman Gallery is a relatively new entrant at Bergamot. I had been approached a while back to tell her story; she’s the daughter of long-time Carol Burnett sidekick, comedian Harvey Korman.

But the art is the story after all and Korman’s collection of artists includes a new one to me, Randall Stoltzfus, whose show is titled “Penumbra.” His meditative, repetitive circular patterns are hand painted in oils, adding layers of gold leaf and other materials until the surfaces evolve their own unique texture and depth.

Stoltzfus was brought up in the Mennonite community and he spent time as artist in residence at an insane asylum in Italy. Perhaps these experiences influenced his work, which to me feels contemplative, peaceful and nature-based. More information at www.laurakormangallery.com.

Many faces

I was tickled pink to rediscover work by Japan’s Cindy Sherman, photographer Tomoko Sawada. I’d written about her in these pages when her “Omiai” series of self-portraits – shot in commercial wedding photographers’ studios in Japan of Sawada posing in many different traditional styles of hair, makeup and post-wedding garb – went on view at the Getty Center.

She’s an exciting artist with a wild sense of personal style.

At RoseGallery, her series “Facial Signature” features 300 images of her as varying interpretations of the East Asian woman. These small portraits are tightly packed, and installed wall to wall on three sides of the gallery. They look black and white, but vary in tiny ways, with a pink tinted cheek, an orange tinged hairdo, different lengths and hair styles side-swept or with bangs, smiling, pouting or frowning, all inspired by Sawada’s experiences in New York of being misidentified as Chinese, Korean or Singaporean. She hopes that viewers will come away questioning their stereotypes of East Asian women.

The exhibition is on view through April 9; details at www.rosegallery.net.

Noble gases

At Lois Lambert Gallery and Gallery of Functional Art, there’s a fun show of contemporary neon signs, with sweet messages, biting puns, the occasional curse word, and of course social commentary.

In the backroom of the art/gift store, Candace Gawne puts another spin on the use of noble gases. She makes bioform plasma sculptures, filling her glass forms with noble gases and energizing them with electricity, which lights them up with the ionized colors of the gas. She’s influenced by sea forms, bioluminescence and botanical shapes, including flowers, jellies, and anemones. It’s trippy!

She’s made more than 60 of these sculptures since 1999, most of which have been sold; the Corning Glass Museum has even purchased one for its collection. These fanciful figures will be on view through May 8. Find out more at www.loislambertgallery.com and www.galleryoffunctionalart.com.

My life as a Bean

Embarking on its 30th anniversary season, the local and well-respected Pacific Resident Theatre in Venice is happy to announce a short extension of the very popular one-man show “Safe at Home,” Orson Bean’s amusing and touching autobiographical play.

A long-time standup comic, stage performer, TV and movie actor, he’s an old pro, this guy. And at age 87, he’s still capable of bringing the house down, between the old school, rimshot-style jokes (slightly off-color and politically incorrect) and the poignant story of life with his dysfunctional family and how he overcame it.

And, oh yeah, he also performs some conjuring and card tricks, including audience participation, to share some of the skills he employed to earn a living with a magic act when he was a young man.

After the ups and downs of his life, maybe the real magic is the journey he takes to find his way to lasting love and faith through simple acts of gratitude.

Orson Bean “Safe at Home” has been extended through April 10, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m., at Pacific Resident Theater, 703 Venice Blvd. For tickets visit www.pacificresidentheatre.com or call (310) 822-8392.

Sarah A. Spitz spent her career as a producer at public radio station KCRW-Santa Monica and produced freelance arts reports for NPR. She has also written features and reviews for various print and online publications.

Photo courtesy of William Turner Gallery

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