For Alison Reynolds, the name of her artist representation and promotion company, LABA, has two meanings. In a literal sense, the acronym stands for “Los Angeles-Buenos Aires” — a reference to her marriage to Argentine architect Matias Prassolo, who is also her business partner. On a deeper level, though, the title is also a mission statement. Reynolds’ goal is to spread Latin American art in Southern California, to introduce art connoisseurs in L.A. and, especially, Ventura — where she currently resides — to its beauty, richness and distinct perspective.
“There aren’t many businesses specifically on the side of representing artists and doing promotion — definitely not with Latin American art, at least not in this area,” she says.
As Reynolds puts it, LABA is about “a convergence of two worlds.” To that end, LABA is holding its inaugural quarterly exhibit in Ventura on Sept. 29. Titled “Celebrating Fall,” the show features the work of Uruguayan artist Guillermo Fígoli. When it first formed two years, the group initially worked primarily behind the scenes, negotiating contracts, writing and mailing press releases and promoting events. With the upcoming exhibition, Reynolds says the company is taking a more proactive approach in exposing their clients to a wider audience. “We’re taking over the reins more with the business. Before, we were very reliant on galleries.”
To eliminate that dependency, Reynolds and Prassolo chose to host their opening at a smaller, more personal venue: their house in midtown Ventura. Reynolds hopes displaying the artists’ work in a residential setting — as opposed to the sometimes sterile gallery environment — will influence consumers to purchase the items for their own homes.
“You have to fall in love with a piece of artwork to buy it,” she says. “It’s not like going into a store and picking out shampoo. It takes more time to make a decision. We want to help in the process and make people comfortable, to feel like they’re in an intimate setting and get close to that work.”
Having Fígoli as the main artist at “Celebrating Fall” is no surprise: He is the artist LABA started with. Although he is originally from Uruguay, Fígoli met Prassolo while living in Argentina, where he studied at the Pan-American School of Arts. His résumé is stacked, with group and solo exhibits in Uruguay and Argentina, as well as Spain, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. He has mentored under such recognized masters as Martha Zuik and Pablo Constrisciani. In 1995, he was selected to restore the Casa Rosada balcony at the Argentine Government House, where Eva Perón would often appear to address the public.
But the pieces he will be displaying in Ventura are curiously local in nature: images of wine country. When he visited recently, Fígoli connected with the area immediately.
“In Uruguay, people are very philosophical,” he says. “They analyze things more; they’re more introspective. That thorough process of getting to know the wine in wine country is natural for people in Uruguay who already think that way.”
In addition to Figoli, the exhibit will also feature the paintings of award-winning local artist Jack Halbert. Halbert, who mostly paints landscapes and depictions of his garden, is literally Reynolds and Prassolo’s neighbor as well as informal consultant on the Ventura art scene. “They always ask me who’s good, and I come up with a half a dozen [artists] I would include,” he says. He believes LABA is doing something unique, and that the gathering on Sept. 29 will bring together a number of different art groups throughout the county, many of which are often segregated from one another.
Susana Rodriguez, another Argentine, rounds out the lineup with a collection of oils and lithographs.
Reynolds says she enjoys mixing art with a different worldview with images created locally, to give an example of how we are unique and, in other ways, all the same.
“When you see someone who is international or who has traveled around, there’s something fresh about their artwork,” Reynolds says, “something that may have a wider appeal. Local artwork is beautiful, but at the same time, maybe the beach scenery is more local to us, but with [Fígoli’s] work, it looks a little more well-traveled.”