When Bruce Bibby opened his new gallery named after his Hollywood columnist pen name, Ted Casablanca, he must have painted the walls white five times. “I’m a perfectionist, and the color had to be warm and bright,” Bibby says. He is also a sculptor. All of the glass and steel tables in the gallery are his creations. The one on wheels was once a funeral casket cart.
So while painting the gallery walls white, he and Jim Cox, a photographer, decided to also paint a nude male model white. The larger-than-life-sized photograph of Cox’s hangs in the gallery window now, inviting patrons while shocking others. A nude photograph is nothing to a Hollywood journalist who is used to digging up risque stories. For the gallery opening in November, Bibby invited the painted white nude male to mingle with guests and pose for pictures.
His latest offering features the works on paper by former cartographer Chase Langford. “Genesis on Paper” spans more than 10 years of his works with oil on paper. Langford is an established artist from Los Angeles known for his large-scare landscape oil paintings that resemble the organic matter and patterns of maps. For years, he had a successful career as a map maker for UCLA. “Research maps were more creative than technical,” Langford says. “So I always had a lot of freedom. But I always painted on the side.”
Langford’s work is genuinely influenced by his early map-making days. When working out structural problems, he says, he’s had to sacrifice some better parts of the painting. “Sometimes it’s just a ‘train wreck,’ but you just have to hang in there and work things out,” he adds.
Langford lives and paints in Los Angeles, but he and his husband also have a home in Palm Springs. Now he’s looking into getting studio space here as well. “I know that the natural light and energy will be different from LA,” he says.
He’s quickly growing out of space in his studio there now that his commissioned paintings are getting grander in scale. He just finished a landscape that measured 80 by 105 inches for a commercial office building in Denver. Another large-scale commission a few years back almost didn’t go as well. It measured 10 by 10 feet and was created on the interior wall of a New York City penthouse. He was working on a curved wall for three weeks inside the apartment, while staying in a nearby hotel.
Langford blocked out the household noises, including lengthy phone calls with ear buds. But he forgot to tell the couple about his process. “I always work from dark to light,” he explains. After a couple of weeks of watching, they finally told him that they thought the painting was too dark and not suitable for their home. “I had to tell there to hang in there, it’ll get much lighter,” he says with a laugh.
Langford is in a good position now with regular commissions, gallery shows in Napa, New York and Maui, and working with architects and designers. “You have to be passionate about your work, but also be good at the peripheral,” Langford says. “That means meeting deadlines, being professional, photographing your work and staying current with social media.” For example, he posts videos of his show on his website and regularly posts new commissions on Facebook.
“What I like about this show is that it demonstrated how Chase came from Michigan and got to the ‘top of his game’ in LA,” Bibby says.