Elizabeth Gordon Gallery


15 West Gutierrez
Santa Barbara
Ca 93101
805 963 1157

Artist Biographies







  • america
    martin
  • sherri
    belassen
  • ryan
    mault
  • alberto
    moreno valdes
  • gino
    belassen
  • mark
    andrew allen
  • jan
    heaton
  • richard
    downs
  • candace
    primack
  • wallace
    piatt

“It is true. The artist is not born to a life of pleasure. She cannot be idle. It is only duty and discipline that make art. The artist is gluttonous, constantly devouring life in order to translate all that she sees, smells, lives or breathes into her own language. Why, and for what? For the blistering personal joy that comes when one is doing something of and about truth.”

“There is no choosing this life. An artist paints because she must.” -America Martin

America Martin is a fine artist based in Los Angeles. She studied with Vernon Wilson, a professor of painting and drawing at Art Center School of Design, and was a scholarship student at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Massachusetts.

Martin is a traveler between mediums. Her paintings and drawings are emphatic expressions of playful references to a number of major schools of the twentieth century, as well as to enduring indigenous art forms. Martin's favorite landscape is that of the human form. Her work is distinguished by a command of line and color and is firmly grounded in the classics.

America Martin from Argot & Ochre on Vimeo.



America Interviewed at LA I'm Yours scroll for complete story and images
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“I work intuitively… It’s like breathing.”

Sherri Belassen has raised the bar - literally. As a high jumper destined for the Olympics, Belassen was clearing 6 feet. Then an ankle injury during an Olympic trial permanently altered her fate-she was never able to jump again.

“Things happen for a reason,” says Belassen, whose painting career is now reaching new heights. After refocusing her energy toward her artistic inclinations, Belassen is now gaining recognition nationwide for her abstract and figurative paintings. “You’re out there alone on the high jump” Belassen says. “You must concentrate and visualize. I’d see myself doing the jump. You had to find your own way. With painting, it is the same.”

Taking inspiration form her heroes- Henri Matisse, Milton Avery, Mark Rothko and Helen Frankenthaler- Belassen explores and celebrates color, form and line. The artist allows her instinctual harmony to guide her work. Her latest works were generated from deep within her subconscious. After completing her large scale abstractions of geometric grids the paintings unleashed a memory of the artist’s childhood: “I used to fly a lot with my dad in his private plane when I was a little girl,” Belassen says. “I grew up in the Midwest, and I’d see blocks of color and shapes below. It would get bumpy in the little four-seater so my dad would say, ‘Look at the horizon- it will balance you.’ ”

By Amy Abrams



Ryan Mault’s art seeks to reconcile the most extreme, expressive properties of our chaotic physical world with the barren, xanaxed emotional palette of modern life.

Mault works with oil stick, pen, spray paint, acrylic, house paint, and other quick-drying materials that allow for rapid addition, subtraction, and layering. He changes his brush sizes frequently and often flips the canvases he’s painting to achieve the variegated textures, levels of abstraction, and compositional balance that his vision requires.

By Michael Fitzgerald



Affectionately known as “Unc”, Alberto Valdes left a collection of such remarkable art that had he not chosen the life of a recluse, he most likely would be considered one of the top Mexican American artists of our time.
Alberto was born in 1918 in Texas and moved with his family to East Los Angeles when was he was two years old. His father, a classical musician, died in Mexico when Alberto was just a teenager. He graduated from Lincoln High School and later attended art school.
After serving in the army during WWII, he returned to his parent’s home in Silver Lake. Alberto then began a very successful professional career as a commercial artist. Once he retired, Alberto’s dream was to devote the rest of his life creating fine art. It was at this time that he closed himself off from the world and painted daily from morning to evening. Painting was his love, his obsession, his reason for being.
Alberto was the quintessential reclusive artist. He continuously ignored the urgings of his family to exhibit his work. He did not even leave home to purchase his art supplies. He would write a list, and his sister-in-law would make the purchases for him.
Alberto suffered from prostate problems, but after seeing a physician in approximately 1980 he wanted no longer to continue medical care. In time, the physical pain became unbearable, and in 1998 Albert took his own life. The last piece completed was left on his easel and titled “Adios.”
As his legacy, Alberto Valdes has left us a body of fine art genuinely inspired by his heritage, and a lifetime of achievements and personal tribulations.

“He had in his eyes
The look of goodness
It was always in his eyes
He no longer knew about
Sadness, disenchantment
Nor pain
Enclosed behind the old doors
Of his old convent
He was free like the wind
He owned the rainbow
And painted its colors as his own…”

Excerpt from ‘Free Like the Wind’
Written in tribute by
Francisco “Poncho” Rodriguez.



Growing up, Belassen was always surrounded by art. It was normal that there was paint on the floor and that the house smelled like fresh oil paintings. After all, his mother is contemporary fine artist Sherri Belassen.

It took him a while to take notice of his artistic skills, as he was blinded by the constant hustle of club soccer growing up. Though he had a pair of crafty, creative feet on the pitch, it wasn't until his sophomore year of high school when a graphic design class opened up his eyes to his raw creative side. Belassen's creative drive has since carried over into his college life, and he now finds himself pursuing a BFA in Graphic Design with a minor in Advertising at Chapman University in Orange, California. Along with that, he plays center-midfield for their men's soccer team, freelance designs, and creates contemporary mixed-media collages.

Belassen's artwork has evolved substantially since he started showing in Art One Gallery in 2011 at the age of 17. With interest and inspiration drawn from street art and contemporary design, Belassen's mixed-media collages are what propel his artistic aspirations.

Born in Scottsdale, AZ, 1994



Los Angeles artist Mark Andrew Allen's work today is a culmination of many years of painting, thinking and experiencing. He blends urban street art with his background of typography, mixed media collage, and abstract expressionism into each of his pop expressionist works to establish a particular narrative of our modern day culture.

His artworks are in many notable collections and have been exhibited in New York, Los Angeles, Rome, Hamburg, Boston, Houston, Dallas, Austin, Charleston, SC, and Chelsea, Canada. Museums include Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, TX, The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Museum - Cleveland, OH; Experience Music Project - Seattle, WA; Memphis Brooks Museum of Art - Memphis, TN; and Acadia Museum - Lafayette, LA. He has had two art installations in the Rockefeller Center windows in New York and his art work has been included in several television shows and feature films.

Allen served as Vice President of Development for the Los Angeles Chapter of the American Institute of Graphic Arts for two years and he has won numerous awards for his graphic design for some of the largest companies throughout the world. His most notable design projects include; The "Yu-Gi-Oh" logo, "The Nightmare Before Christmas" logo, the logo for the 60th anniversary of "The Wizard of Oz", Jackson 5 / Futurist Entertainment, CD art for P. Diddy's Bad Boy Records, tribute album for Willie Nelson, Stevie Nicks, "World Famous KROQ-106,7 FM-Los Angeles Weenie Roast Concert", "The Source Hip-Hop Music Awards Show." Promotion work for Pepsi, Mattel, Twentieth Century Fox, Paramount Studios, Disney, Universal Studios, Hanna-Barbera, Warner Brothers, Capitol Records, Atlantic Records, Interscope, Geffen, EMI, and RCA. Product development for licensing of "The Simpson's", "Family Guy", "M*A*S*H", "My Name Is Earl", "King Of The Hill", "Lion King", "Beauty and the Beast", "The Mummy", "Casper", "Dumb and Dumber", "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles", and "Buffy, The Vampire Slayer".

Publications include: 'Artforum', 'Communication Arts', 'Print', 'HOW', 'Extreme Graphics', 'Landmark Calendars', ''The Source', 'Letter Arts Review', 'Letterwork' (published in London) 'The New Logos of California Volumes 1 & 2, 'Single Image' Volumes 16, 17, 19, 'Sugar' (published in Japan), 'The Workbook' 92-08, 'Alternative Pick' 93-01, 'American Showcase' 98-99, and 'Oh!' (published in Seole Korea).



My paintings are personal observations of color, movement, relationships and forms in nature. I prefer the watercolor medium, as I love paper, and the tactile manner in which the pigment integrates with the paper. Painting on cold pressed 100% cotton paper I patiently build translucent, veiled layers of color, allowing the forms and values to evolve in a detailed and orchestrated manner. I normally work in a series, which permits the wet color to dry thoroughly between layers. The images are not restricted by the paper’s edges. Every random mark is there because it needs to be there. The reputed “happy mistakes” (that watercolor legend reports often occur in this medium) are planned and controlled.

The circular orbs in my current work are simple, bold, direct, sensual, playful and often mysterious. The sphere recalls harmony, rhythm, movement, patterns, and boundless symbolic metaphors. In my work the circle exists independently and in groups, referencing water patterns on a shore, a rising moon, rounded fruits, or the shape of a flower. The circle recalls family and friends, who are important to my creative process. The times spent in a circle, talking, eating, dancing, playing, telling stories and solving the problems of everyday life. The memories of this connection to the circle are vital to me.

My intention is not to impose a specific message to the viewer. I often hesitate to title my paintings, for fear that they will be translated only according to my vision and close a door to the viewer’s interpretations. I hope my paintings will allow the viewer to observe a familiar object in a new way.



"Couples Series" This work continues Richard's personal exploration of the human interactions that shape mankind. Romantic bonds portraying figures engaged in archetypal relationships and the relationships that we have with ourselves build the foundation of his narrative.

Richard's art making combines contemporary aesthetics with the rich history of printmaking to create images that feel both current and timeless. He has worked for most United States periodicals and newspapers ranging from Smithsonian Magazine to the New York Times and international organizations such as the International Monetary Fund and the United Nations publication divisions. Downs is a graduate of Art Center College of Design and was a faculty member for 6 years and he currently teaches in the Applied Art & Design department at Sierra College. Richard has received numerous awards for his work including the Society of Illustrators Museum in New York and American Illustration.

In January 2014 Richard closed his first Bay Area solo exhibit of his work at the Transmission Gallery in Oakland. His work has been profiled in the June/July 2013 Issue of Sactown Magazine, the Winter 2013 issue of Studio Visit and the January 2014 issue of US Airways Magazine and AdornoMag.com. Richard lives in Nevada City with his wife and artist Gwyn Stramler and their daughter.

In March 2014 Richard was selected by Visit California, Visit Oakland and Oakland Art Murmur to promote the fine arts in Oakland, CA. Richard helped Kevin Cullen, host of The Motorhead Traveler create his own self portrait in Steel Wire. His travel program focuses on Motoring, Fine Dining and Fine Arts from all over the world. The Motorhead Traveler airs on MavTV.com in the U.S, Travelandescape.ca in Canada, Nuvolari.tv in Italy, and FirstHDTV in Russia and Hightv.tv in 3D.

Richard's braided annealed wire sculpture, Couple #276 has been selected by the Crocker art museum for their 36th annual art auction. This piece will be part of an exhibit and then auctioned on the evening of Saturday, June 7 2014. Sacramento, CA



“Having studied art history and church history for many years, I am drawn to antiquity, loving that which is ancient and worn with layers that evoke a bit of mystery. In my paintings, I build up many layers, sometimes as many as fifteen. Working intuitively, I add and subtract these layers throughout the painting process so that at least a hint of the earlier history is revealed. The scratching, mark-making and symbols create a bit of a raw and organic effect, while at the same time pulling the viewer into a place of quiet reflection. The large, vibrant, hand-mixed color fields are meant to give the eyes a pleasant place to rest.

No matter the painting, I strive to work from a place of gratitude, longing, and inner peace, feeling always that painting is not just a choice, but rather my calling.”

Candace Primack has shown widely throughout the United States and her work appears in many private collections in the USA and abroad.



My name is Wallace Piatt and the art I create is inspired by industrial environments, layers of old street art, vintage imagery, and chaotic issues in my own life. On the other side of the coin, I love blatantly bold colors, graphics with a bold pop art feel, and modern minimal settings. The work I compose is an eccentric combination of these two vastly different areas of artistic visions. My goal is to keep interacting with both styles and creating order out of chaos.

My artistic background did not come from study books or school classes. I was pre-med at UCSB and then went to Europe. The affinity toward biology and science ended abruptly when I was introduced to art museums, fashion, and the creative process. I came back from Europe and blew into the clothing business for 17 years. Graphics became a prominent part of my life through creating clothing lines with my partner. Strong bold imagery had and still has my name written all over it. My process starts with graphics, then creating the piece through juxtaposition of color, several layers of print and paint, mixed application to the canvas and mistakes. Mistakes were a great burden to me earlier in my career, but now of great importance to the over all movement.

"Be regular and orderly in your life so that you may be violent and original in your work"
Gustave Flaubert 1861

My lifestyle is far from regular, but has become much more orderly as I freed myself from the demons of recklessness. In other words I used to rage going out on the town getting limited work done. haha gulp.

The art I have created recently has more depth and meaning to me. My art studio is my heaven and I can spend hours alone creating, dancing to beats, and just having a blast. This is all a direct correlation to my life's mistakes and the changes I have made to make it better.

I love to create! Wallace