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Meet Roberta Gentry

Today we’d like to introduce you to Roberta Gentry.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
My dad was an artist, so I got an early start by learning from him. I got my BFA from the University of Arizona and worked out of a studio in Tucson for a few years after graduating. In 2011 I moved to New York to go to graduate school at SUNY Albany. The program and my professors there were lovely and it was also three years long so I had the time to really dig in and reinvent the way I was working and thinking. After I finished, my husband and I decided to move to Los Angeles.

We settled in Highland Park and I turned our tiny one-car garage into a studio for the first three years. Pretty soon after moving to LA, I became a member of the artist-run space Monte Vista Projects. At the time, the gallery was a quick bike ride away in Highland Park, but we’ve since moved it to the Bendix Building downtown.

I’m really proud of the work that Monte Vista has done in supporting local and under-represented artists, and it’s been a wonderful community to be a part of. These days I’m working out of a studio in our house in El Sereno, and have been teaching a drawing class at Saddleback College out in Orange County.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Two cross-country moves were definitely a struggle! Navigating living in Los Angeles has been a huge learning experience, although the difficulties of living here have usually been canceled out by the rewards. It’s easy to feel isolated as an artist after you’ve finished school, but LA has been very welcoming and being involved in organizations like the Armory Center for the Arts and being a member with Monte Vista has helped to keep me connected to other artists.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
I’m primarily a painter, and the paintings I’ve been working on for the last few years all involve a central figure that hovers in front of a patterned ground. They come across as very abstract, but I feel like the shapes and colors are partly a reflection of my own influences and emotions.

My process is a slow progression of measuring, planning, and building the paintings piece by piece. I’ve also been making beads and carved sticks on a wood lathe, mostly because it’s just incredibly fun to use a lathe, and I love how the symmetry of the carvings connects them to the paintings.

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