From ArtWeek.LA, January 25, 2013
by Phil Tarley, Director, Artist's Corner Gallery

Linda Kunik: Juice

Kunik redefines the still life genre of painting and photography with her strangely wonderful JUICE. Opens January 26 at The Artist’s Corner.

Kunik discards the staid notions of old school renderings of fruits and vegetables in a highly energized, three-stage process in which she comes to intimate terms with an heirloom tomato.

RIPE, BULLS-EYE and JUICE is this artist’s visual saga of extreme penetration and objectification of an inanimate subject, which seems to come alive before our eyes.

In RIPE, the artist gleans highly sexualized anatomical postures from her heirloom models. Full on shots of succulent tomatoes seem to pose for her with their corpulent derrieres thrust out in strangely carnal postures that are more whimsical than pornographic (if there is such a thing as tomato porn).

Then in BULLS-EYE, Kunik takes her tomatoes into the studio and graphically positions them on a white background, where they become shapes and icons of foodstuffs and tomato culture. These four images would be perfect as international symbols for a ketchup bottle. Big, beefy BULLS-EYES, perfectly symmetrical, line up in a four-color array, looking almost machine-made.

Finally in JUICE, Kunik takes us beneath the flesh of her gooey fruits, down past the sinews that support its “body,” deeper inside its cellular structure and into the droplets of moisture that become the JUICE. These sensual images are ablaze with rarified textures and color combinations never seen before.

Curiously, this macro-vision of our world is echoed only by the Hubble's recent telescopic vision of far-away galaxies, writhing in fantastic clusters and glistening in colors reminiscent of Linda Kunik’s JUICE.

What cosmic portent for the humble tomato.

From Beverly Hills Courier, by Steve Simmons, November 28, 2009

Garden Provides Food, Inspiration For Artists
The heirloom tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, butternut squash, basil, arugula, endive, radishes and carrots are thriving in local artist Linda Kunik's backyard. She plans to harvest the cantaloupe and watermelon in a couple of weeks.

These days, many people are turning their backyards into "mini-farms," but Kunik has turned hers into a co-op of sorts for fellow artists termed "Plant It Forward -The Starving Artist Project."

Kunik, a 31-year resident, has "referenced" the land since early in her career as a watercolorist and landscape painter.

Addressing issues of globalization and ecology, Kunik's "Deforestation and the Land" series highlighting Bolivia and Brazil, led to paintings about global warming and ocean pollution.

Her quest for sustainable uses for the land led to her fascination with organic gardening and after five years of practice, Kunik decided to put her money where her mouth was and turn her yard into a working garden and focus on productive land use.

"It was a way to combine my love of gardening with my love of art," Kunik said.

So with the addition of 10 cubic yards of soil, Kunik has taken out lawns and flowerbeds and created five gardens at her Coldwater Canyon Drive home.

The largest takes up most of the backyard and boasts custom-built supports for the eight-foot-tall heirloom tomatoes among the lettuce, spinach, eggplant and beans.

As any artist would do, Kunik shaped the gardens asymmetrically with a walking path between them and sunflowers adorning the corner of each vegetable bed.

Another raised bed has chives, potatoes, cucumbers and watermelon.

A garden near the wall close to the street holds corn stalks, and lemon, orange, peach and avocado trees are studded throughout the property.

To turn the garden into a fullblown project, Kunik invited artist friends from her "community" to volunteer one to two hours a week to work in the garden in exchange for a weekly recycled bag of whatever produce is ready to be harvested. Artists can also swap art for food, but so far none has taken her up on that offer, Kunik says.

Photographer Ginger Van Hook is not only helping with garden tasks, but documenting the changes in the garden for a fall exhibition that will feature a visual and digital record of the garden's progress, paintings by Kunik and a journal of each participating artist's reflections on creating the garden.

Plant It Forward artists include Juna Amano (painting and sculpture), Marissa Magdalena (installation, performance and drawing), OfunneObiamawe (photographer), Suzanne Oshinsky (videographer), Michiko Smith (painting) and Whitney Stolich (photographer).

For its inaugural year, Kunik has drawn Plant It Forward participants from her "community" of artists-mainly members of professional organizations she belongs to, like the Los Angeles Art Association and the Southern California Women's Caucus for Art, and especially from her O Salon.

Kunik established the group, which meets in the airy upstairs studio behind her house, to give artists a chance to critique and discuss each other's work. Named for the Otis College of Art & Design where Kunik earned her MFA, the group, which begins meeting again this month, helps the demonstrating artists answer such questions as "what message you trying to convey?" and "how is it working?"

Kunik sees her garden not only as a chance to feed people in "a difficult time for artists," but also for education. With a bachelor's degree in Spanish education and psychology and a master's in reading and learning disabilities, Kunik was a Spanish teacher while her seven years as a Los Angeles County Museum of Art docent convinced her to pursue art as her passion.

And with her education background, Kunik sees the garden as a way to show people "where food come from, and what goes into cultivating the soil and the fruits and vegetables." Her goal is to grow the project "so there are community gardens and we begin to educate young people," Kunik said. She's had inquiries from the Watts Housing Project and some high schools about establishing gardens.

Plant It Forward is also a chance for Kunik to promote her sustainable, organic philosophy. The soil has been amended with compost and manure, and continues to be enriched with nutrients. A compost tumbler makes new compost from yard waste and vegetable leftovers. A drip soaker-hose system makes watering more efficient and cost effective. All vegetables are cultivated from organic seed, except for the wild strawberries, which came from the forest. Flowers that bring in beneficial insects and lacewings help keep the garden balanced naturally and cotton seed oil takes the place of conventional pesticides.

Kunik is now sending out proposals and seeking a venue for the final project in October which will include four-foot by four-foot photos, 30-inch by 40-inch pictures of people working, two videos and some of her abstract "mapping paintings"-and preparing for next season's garden.

In the meantime, Kunik is blogging about the garden every day at (her Web site is and hoping to spread the message. "Plant It Forward is really about establishing community while reconnecting with our earth."

From THE Magazine of and for the Arts

The Dialogic Connection Exhibition Dates: Saturday, September 13, 2008 - Saturday, September 13, 2008
Opening Reception: September 13, 2008, 6-9pm
TreePeople Center
12601 Mulholland Drive, Beverly Hills CA
(818) 753-4600

The Dialogic Connection
For one night only, the TreePeople's facility will hold the first solo exhibition of LA-based artist Linda Kunik's work entitled The Dialogic Connection featuring painting, video and installation.

Kunik has shown in such places as Barnsdall, LACMA Rental and Sales Gallery, Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery and is a regularly represented artist by Gallery 825. She will be exhibiting early themed paintings of "Deforestation and the Land," and more recent mixed media works entitled "Things Fall Apart," including a site-specific installation and video of her process.
The Dialogic Connection invites the viewer into the artist's representation and interpretation of causality. As Kunik argues that everything is connected in some form, even through chaos, this exhibition aims to unlock a non-didactic discourse, enabling the viewers to question their own impact on the world surrounding. This impact is in ways as unpredictable as the shattering of glass in which Kunik took her inspiration for the "Things Fall Apart" series.

From Flavorpill

The Dialogic Connection Tree People HQ hosts a special, one-night-only art installation featuring the work of LA-based artist Linda Kunik. Curated by Flavorpill's own Alexx Shaw, the exhibition brings together works from Kunik's multiple ongoing series, including both paintings and photographs from Things Fall Apart and Deforestation and the Land. Also featured: video work that documents the neglectful attitude society has taken toward the ecological impacts of industry. What could be a shrill exercise is made seductive by Kunik's sensual palette and expressive technique; the majesty of the artist's compositions softens her polemical style.

Shana Nys Dambrot

A Sense of Place explores each artist’s unique approach to his or her environment. Michael Bullas' oils on panel explore the ever-changing relationship of water and sky, highlighting the fleeting symbolic nature of things and places. Linda Kunik uses mixed media on canvas and panel in Things Fall Apart to evoke visual metaphors of landscapes under transformation. A bold sense of color forms Mark Leysen's compositions, while the more formal aspects of geometric shapes enhance their balance and harmony. Robert White's oils on canvas reveal his ability to imbue each scene with emotional and compositional value through harmony of color and attention to detail.

Linda Kunik was born in Chicago. She has a BFA from Otis College of Art, a master’s degree from DePaul University, and has studied painting in Italy and France. She recently mentored with Newton and Helen Mayer Harrison on their LA & the Rising of Waters Exhibition. Her paintings and photographs reflect her ongoing interest in environmental issues and a psychological focus on accident and intention in life and art. " break the glass or let it break by itself to open the mind to possibility and conjecture."

The walls will never be really cast down. Hence the MELANCHOLIA of all landscapes. We owe them a debt. They immediately demand the deflagration of the mind, and they obtain it immediately. Without it, they would be places, not landscapes And yet the mind never burns enough.
     Jean=François Lyotard

We are living, as the Chinese say, in "interesting times," but what is most interesting about our times is that, unlike our other histories, we know the inevitable outcome. Call it "global warming," call it "climate change," call it "greenhouse," life as we knew it is ending before our very eyes. What is the role of art as we witness the unexpected blowback of the industrial revolution? Questions of causality inform the art of Linda Kunik. Kunik is a new kind of artist who seeks a third way, moving in between the poles of "art for art's sake" and politically active art. She is an "engaged artist," a committed artist who reaches out to the public with a new kind of documentation — an art that presents facts, an art that speaks a truth. But there are no messages here, no politics, only poetic objects, visual metaphors of landscapes under transformation.

Mentored by Helen Mayer and Newton Harrison, whose healing environmental art shaped a generation; Kunik mirrors their actions of working without an expected goal or an intended outcome for her art. Her art making process is an acting out of the unexpected vagaries of cause and consequence. The artist uses glass, which iconographically signifies the fragility of the world we live in — life on the tipping point. Kunik does not break the glass; she lets the glass break itself through an inverted process that violently forces the glass to fall apart. First, she prepares a large canvas, which is a historicist homage to traditional landscape painting. An environment is suggested through stains of color: snow white, sky color, earth color. Then, she places rocks, like continents, on the canvas surface. Next, she allows a pane of glass to fall face forward upon the stones and shatter, like melting glaciers. In our desire to master, we have destroyed one world and have wrought yet another. As the late Stephen Jay Gould stated in 1993,

Our threat is not to the earth and its ample scale. Our danger is to ourselves in our tiny little segment of time (all we can or will know, so we rightly cherish it, despite cosmic imitations). Greenhouse is no threat to the planet, but would be a disaster for us, as most of our great cities (built at sea level as ports and harbors) would founder and our agricultural belts would shift. Mass extinction doesn't' end the history of life (and actually leads to interesting evolutionary experiments among few survivors in a relatively empty space), but nothing could possibly be more unpleasant for creatures in the midst of such an episode. We have enormous power to destroy our little world. The majesty of geological time, however, is abstract and untouchable.

We will not destroy the world, only our world. Linda Kunik's poetic metaphor of the end of cause goes even deeper and refers to the unintended consequences of playing God. The artist ponders the spiritual costs. The Kabbalah uses the story of the Breaking of the Vessels to explain the unleashing of evil on earth. The hapless human inhabitants saw the Light of God streaming from the sky and captured this shining in vessels, which could not contain the Emanations of the Lord. And so the Vessels shattered and humanity discovered that both good and evil Emanates from God. We became our own agents of destruction. Like Anselm Kiefer who also uses the shattering of glass to remind his audience of their own fallibilities, Kunik is a healer. She records the slices of glass on canvas with photographs, which are a body of work in and of themselves. She charts and maps the shattering by painting carefully between the shards as though stitching the wounds. She then painstakingly gathers up the original pieces of glass and stores them away to reuse on another canvas. The result is an unexpected beauty out of havoc that flickers in hope.

Although Kunik's original inspiration for her committed art was the ravages of deforestation and drought, the spectacle of crumbling glaciers, and the need to record this devastation, her art can be read on many levels. Whether as individuals or as cultures, we now live on a Flat Earth, an inversion of Columbus, who, as it turns out, was wrong. We cannot sail in the opposite direction and go to the other side of the world. There is no other side, and we touch and impact each other and the results of our interactions are as unpredictable as the shattering of glass. As an engaged artist, Linda Kunik produces heartbreakingly beautiful art that speaks of loss but promises healing and hope to the viewer. Kunik exemplifies her generation through her insistence that art should go beyond the beautiful, that art should speak powerfully with conviction to those with open hearts and minds.

It is the same with teeth. Landscapes could be classified in terms of how easily they can be nibbled. BITTEN. It would take a bite of tungsten steel to savor the frozen flesh of the lakes of Minnesota in the bitter cold or the Rimouski shore in winter. Given that we don't have that bite, that different judgment, we draw back. But as we do, we still evoke that impracticable ordeal.
     Jean=François Lyotard
     "Scrapland" from The Inhuman, 1988
Essay by Dr. Jeanne S. M. Willette
Art Historian and Art Critic in Los Angeles