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The Canvas Project: Los Angeles

September 26, 2021

Story: Punch Staff

photo: Dylan + Jeni

Six bartenders showcase the projects that engage their creativity beyond the bar.

The 2021 Tales of the Cocktail Foundation Canvas Project, presented by Bombay Sapphire, is dedicated to supporting the artistic passions that fuel creative bartenders across the country. Through a series of grants, the Canvas Project empowers bartenders to realize their imaginative pursuits in the form of projects that help knit neighborhoods and communities together. This year’s finalists, grouped by four major regional markets and working in a diverse array of mediums, are showcasing at gallery events this fall and winter the work that fulfills them when they’re not behind the bar.

It’s only fitting that Los Angeles—a city that’s always on the make, and the remake—serves as one of the U.S. cities hosting and showcasing this year’s creative Canvas Projects. Ready for the spotlight in a town where minimalism and modernism have flourished, these six bartenders often find the meaning in the medium, experimenting with expressive modes of creation that range from the antique (relief printmaking) to the innovative (ink-wiped monographs). For them, experimenting with photography, ceramics, painting and printing is how they find their voices. As one finalist, Kevin Welsh, says, “Coming out of a year of lockdown and hibernation, we are regaining touch with our true natures and callings.”

RACHEL SAFTLER

Current city: Los Angeles

What is your creative passion or outlet?
My focus as a visual artist is in relief printmaking, which for me basically means that I carve stamps and print them on things! It’s a really old and tedious method of printing and I love it.

What is the Canvas Project you’re showcasing?
The collection I’m working on right now is a series of small stamps printed over old poetry and writing from journals I’ve kept over the past 10 years. It’s a journey I’m taking myself on, in an attempt to unify the way I talk to myself about love versus the way I talk about love in public—or the way we feel love privately versus the way we outwardly express it. It’s a work in progress! I just picked up an old typewriter that will be coming along for the ride.

Follow along at @studiosidla

EUGENE LEE

Current city: Los Angeles

What is your creative passion or outlet? 
I love photography. I love taking photos; I love looking at other people’s photos. I love that when it comes to photography, there is an opportunity to see a refraction of someone’s outlook on life via their capture of the world around them. My camera and my bar have been the vehicles that have taken me into the cocktail community in Los Angeles and beyond.

What is the Canvas Project you’re showcasing?
My goal is to see if I can spread some more neighborly joy to this community I live in and have grown to love this past year. My hope is to capture photographic portraits of 10 local residents, then put the series up in a local Altadena coffee shop (Highlight Coffee) to showcase [it] and have it live on the walls for a month. Some shoots will be done at residences, some at local spots, i.e., hiking trails, by the foothills… It all depends on the subject and theme. I think the result from the shoots will highlight a community that is warm, inclusive, creative and eclectic.

Follow along at @eugeneshoots

GABY MLYNARCZYK

Current city: Los Angeles

What is your creative passion or outlet?
Ceramics. I love all forms: hand-built, slabbed or wheel-thrown. My particular favorite is raku-fired ceramics, and my preferred shape is bottle-like.

What is the Canvas Project you’re showcasing?
I [am] attempting to showcase a wheel-thrown bottle or two, though making anything ceramic takes time, between throwing, allowing a piece to dry to trim, first firing, then final glazed firing. Completing a piece sometimes takes weeks of waiting and work. My influences include Lucie Rie, Toshiko Takaezu and Hans Coper.

Follow along at @lalovingcup

ANNA WINGFIELD

Current city: Los Angeles

What is your creative passion or outlet?
I am an artist, specializing in ink-wiped monotypes.

What is the Canvas Project you’ll be showcasing?
I’m inspired by the need to preserve fleeting moments when words and memory aren’t enough. My ink-wiped monotypes are created on top of weathered copper plates that serve as canvases. I wipe and scrape layers of ink onto the copper plate; the image of the plate is transferred onto paper through an etching press. The final result is the mirror image of the ink-wipe and an artifact of the process.

Follow along at @awingding

KEVIN WELSH

Current city: Los Angeles

What is your creative passion or outlet?
I’m an interdisciplinary artist, and I believe that the medium defines the message and that materials used all correlate to allow things to be processed differently when viewing. My work primarily utilizes patterns to convey my messages.

What is the Canvas Project you’re showcasing?
I [am] showcasing a painting on a wood panel; I’ve been inspired by meditation and growth. My work always revolves around delusion and different “false ideas” we tell ourselves—whether positive or negative. Coming out of a year of lockdown and hibernation, we are regaining touch with our true natures and callings.

Follow along at @localstreaker

CHRISTA HAVICAN

Current city: Houston

What is your creative passion or outlet?
There is no one specific outlet. ([I’m a] queen of all trades, if you will…) I bake, paint, sew and work in ceramics and glass.

What is the Canvas Project you’re showcasing?
For the Canvas Project, I [am] focusing on glass and ceramics. A lot of my work is informed by my time behind the bar. It is probably going to be a liquor cabinet of sorts. I am currently hunting for an old medicine cabinet or small hutch to refinish and place glass in the doors. I also plan to have ceramic accents (handles or finishing details). The general idea is to merge a classic glass that you might find in a pub in England and bring it in to modern design, combining my love for the bar with my artistic passion.

Follow along at @imyourpawpaw

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