Allina and Nicole in Echo Park © Phoebe Clemens
For anyone who lives in sunny LA, it will be abundantly clear which locations frequent in
But it’s not the backdrop that is charming – as anyone who’s wandered down Sunset Boulevard without Clemens’s romanticised version of Los Angeles will tell you. It’s her very subjects that add colour and interest rather than the unremarkable strip malls, liquor stores or auto repair shops.
In one portrait we meet ‘Allina’ and ‘Nicole’, a pair of LA ladies located at the edge of the hills beneath Dodger Stadium, “fuelled by gummy bears ready for their next Echo Park adventure” – as the artist explains. Then there’s ‘Steph’ who eyes us sceptically from under her sunglasses, as she heads out of her local Patra Burgers joint.
In another, we come across ‘Karen McBags’ cooling off in the midday heat with her Jeni’s ice cream in front of the Box Brothers ‘shipping and receiving’ store on the main drag of Hillhurst Avenue. ‘Saree’, meanwhile, hangs in the car park of The Drawing Room, the cash-only Hillhurst dive where locals drink during the day in the dark – “with the Cramps or Iggy Pop on the jukebox and the Dodgers game perpetually on the TVs overhead, before they step back out into the light, their eyes readjusting to the blazing afternoon sun as they head out to cool off by the pool,” the artist adds.
Now some of her recent pieces are being brought together for a new book by
“If there’s art on every LA corner, it’s because Clemens put it there, not the other way around,” reads the book’s description. “It’s her way of seeing Los Angeles through its subjects, its authentic aesthetic grounded in an affection for the details of Clemens’s own life that makes these paintings spectacular, rather than anything perceptibly extraordinary about the city itself.”
There’s beauty in the mundane, as they say. In Phoebe Clemens’s oil paintings, she reminds us that there is something special about everyday life; if only we remember to look around and not take our home town or city for granted.
A Perfect Day for Bananafish © Phoebe Clemens
Karen in Los Feliz © Phoebe Clemens
Jared © Phoebe Clemens
Steph In Echo Park aka je m’en bats les couilles © Phoebe Clemens
Le Genou de Claire © Phoebe Clemens
Non © Phoebe Clemens
Jackie & Claire © Phoebe Clemens
Sarah at the Broken Shaker © Phoebe Clemens
Britnasty in Echo Park © Phoebe Clemens
Je M’en Bats les Couilles, Phoebe Clemens – Tired Eyes Publishing