Irony Gallery

The latest addition to Topanga Canyon Courtyard’s thriving business area is Irony Gallery, founded by metal artists and Topanga residents Jill Hari and Glenn Fischer.

Hari and Fischer were dining separately at Abuelitas in August 2013 when Fischer overheard Hari talking to mutual friends about her work restoring metal sculpture and art.

“He must have thought ‘Hmmm, a lady metalsmith’ because he came straight over to talk to me and tell me he was a steel sculptor,” said Hari.

They soon became a couple and lived together in Topanga with Fischer’s two sons. They shared a dream to expand their involvement in the Topanga arts community.

“Irony Gallery was born out of a desire to bring artists and art enthusiasts together in Topanga Canyon and to enrich their creative experience and potential.,” said Hari. “Irony Gallery supports visual artists in all mediums and at all career levels by offering a professional and beautiful exhibit space with a small-town personal approach. We exhibit fine art and sculpture, performance art, installation art, and provide a space for artists to work and sell.”

The gallery space has been completely refurbished by the artistowners and designed with a gritty city arts district vibe.

Opening night at Irony Gallery went until 10 p.m. with an afterparty next door at Corazon Performing Arts.

“The turnout was incredible,” Hari says. “The gallery was full within the first 30 minutes and we easily saw over 100 people throughout the night. We feel overwhelmed by the community support. I think the majority were Topanga residents. People seem really excited.”

The exhibit featured the work of Matt Aston, a Los Angeles-based artist working in commissioned portraits, as well as set and stage design.

Hari explains, “Matt paints in acrylics and oils with incredible achievement in layering, texturing, and color. His style ranges within abstract expressionism and realistic figurative work, with an interest in conscious decision, chaos, and order, giving the viewer an experience of near realism from a distance that changes to chaos as you move in on the canvas. His large-scale works bring the room to life and take the viewer in with movement, warmth and curious contemplation.”

Hari is an art and objects conservator specializing in sculpture and metalwork restoration. Fischer is a structural welder specializing in large-scale steel sculpture and custom architectural steel design and fabrication.

“We have been trying to get a space in the courtyard for a couple of years,” said Hari. “I wanted a work space for my art conservation business which I’d been running out of in a tiny studio at home. I wanted to keep my business in Topanga. I’m from Oregon and Glenn is from England and we both prefer hiding out in the mountains quite a lot. We love the small village vibe here.”

Irony Gallery fits well in the cobbled courtyard of the midnineteenth century shopping center surrounded by boutiques, cafés and music venues. “Topanga Canyon is an established creative mountain community, with a long and eccentric history of artists and musicians living and working here,” said Hari.

The couple are enjoying working together. “Although, we don’t always agree on little details. I’m a perfectionist and worry about everything. Glenn is not as worried about details and doesn’t let details slow him down, so our strengths and weaknesses complement each other. Whenever we hit a small glitch or disagree, one of us just backs down and we move on. We each have pretty different visions but together we are always working forward and supporting each other,” said Hari.

“Glenn has been my biggest supporter in my art conservation business and since we’ve come together I’ve grown it more than I could have without him. When I met Glenn, I encouraged him to get his own steel shop and go bigger. I thought he was so talented and being held back by the way he was depending on other shops.”

A fellow artist and friend of the couple came up with the name, Irony Gallery, during a road trip brainstorming session. “The best name ever for an art gallery owned by crazy metalsmiths,” said Hari.

They plan to sell art they love or think is interesting or different. “We like the idea of supporting early career artists but are open to selling any art that inspires us. It’s not easy getting a gallery to take your work. We have a lot to learn about running a gallery and I’m happy letting it evolve. Neither of us has specific expectations. Just a beautiful and creative space to come together with other artists and support artists who make cool art,” said Hari.

For more information www.ironygallery.com; (406) 980-1789.

Claire Fordham
Claire Fordham

Fordham worked for the BBC, ITN and Sky News in the UK and wrote a weekly anecdotal column for Britain’s biggest-selling newspaper, The Sun. She currently writes regularly for Huffington Post, The Malibu Times and the Messenger Mountain News. See "A Chat with Claire Fordham" on this website under Podcasts.

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