Love for Golden State inspires Wonderland of art

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Author: Annie Chien

Near the intersection of Eagle Rock and Colorado Boulevard lies Leanna Lin’s Wonderland: a craft store, gift boutique and art gallery all in one. On numerous brightly colored shelves sit beads of all kinds, dolls, T-shirts with smiling slices of pizza, stickers, buttons, plants and handmade jewelry. In addition to realizing an art lover’s dream, this quaint little studio is home to California Love, an art exhibit featuring California-based artists and their visual representations of what makes the Golden State so irresistible.

The California Love art exhibit features 26 artists, with each depicting some definition of what it means to live in the Golden state. Seven framed pieces satirically illustrate what a Los Angeles native eats for dinner each day of the week, showing a cat slurping noodles at ramen stops, taking sushi breaks and participating in the time-honored tradition of burrito take out. Also on display are crocheted cacti and succulents, which reflect Southern California’s obsession with the native desert and chaparral plants. Elsewhere in the exhibit, an artist shares their take on selfies in a series of watercolors featuring a bear intently trying to get the best lit angle while visiting several famous selfie spots including Venice Beach, the Hollywood sign and Napa Valley.

Along with her curator, Hana Kim, Lin works to make her gallery a hub for the celebration of local culture.

“Leanna and I are both from California,” Kim said. “So I thought ‘why not?’ I grew up in Los Angeles, and most of our artists [who already have been in exhibits at Leanna Lin’s] are California based, so I only thought it made sense to have this art exhibit about our love for the state.”

Lin agrees, pleased with her store’s role in in highlighting the California’s unique qualities.

“Seeing so many locals and people from all around the country come in to look at and buy some of the art featured here is why I do this: to spread art and culture.”

During a special event on April 2, the public will be able watch artists showcase their talents live. The gallery will host doodling and pop-up art — three-dimensional paper art — as a supplement to the California Love show.

Aside from running Leanna Lin’s Wonderland, Lin is also an avid supporter of the Los Angeles County High School of the Arts, where she went to school. She stressed the importance of arts programming in public schooling and is donating 10 percent of all profits from the California Love art exhibit to CITYstage, a nonprofit performing arts organization in Los Angeles that serves at-risk middle and high school youth.

“I went to FIT, and I’m a designer by trade,” Lin said. “It’s really important for art to be accessible everywhere, especially somewhere like Eagle Rock or Los Angeles, where there’s a lot of different age groups and cultures in one place. It’s nonprofits like CITYstage that really make it their goal to give kids a chance to be creative in performance and fine arts.”

In their future shows, Lin and Kim plan to feature artists who have already exhibited at the gallery as well as new Californian artists, furthering their aim of supporting the development of unique state-wide culture. New shows are presented every other month and run for six weeks each.

Lin is also an avid proponent of opening an off-leash dog park in Eagle Rock. Animals will be the theme of her next exhibit, titled “Paws Art Show.” The show will begin May 7 and run until June 4. Ten percent of art sales will be donated to Dogs of the Rock, an Eagle Rock-based group in favor of the creation of off-leash dog parks in Eagle Rock and the greater Los Angeles area.

Students who want to get involved with Leanna Lin’s Wonderland or want to submit pieces to be featured in future art shows can submit their portfolios on leannalinswonderland.com. Potential pieces for art shows must be submitted through Kim on her website.

Leanna Lin’s Wonderland is located at 5024 N Eagle Rock Blvd. and is open Tuesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. The California Love exhibit runs from March 5 to April 24.

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