Topanga Canyon Gallery Same Space, New Space!

Members of the Topanga Canyon Gallery Cooperative who carried the visionary remodel to completion. (Back row l-r) Sari Scheer, Kolle Kahle Riggs, Ellen South, Susan Nissman, Don Holtz, Kit Plumridge, Farideh Azad. (Front Row l-r) Connie Cambardella, Patrick Ramsey (kneeling), Donna Geist Buch. (Not shown) Roya Adjory. Kate Browning, John Brunnick, Carole Carpenter, Rebecca Catterall, Teri Garcia, Jonna Gil, Russell Hunziker, Moises Mendoza, Rea Nagel, Toby Salkin, Eugenia Shapiro, Zoe Topsfield, Idelle Okman Tyzbir.

When members of the Topanga Canyon Gallery (TCG) cooperative wanted to upgrade their tiny space in Pine Tree Circle, they probably weren’t thinking of a wholesale renovation, but that’s where the vision took them.

The goal was to maximize the experience of visitors by opening the space and bringing in technology upgrades. I remember Susan Nissman, one of the original members of the co-op, telling me something like that. She was so excited. I tried not to show it, but I was doubtful and thinking about “silk purses and sow’s ears.”

Well, I underestimated the power of a creative, visionary group.

Once the talking was over, the plans drawn up and cleared, TCG president Patrick Ramsey and member artist Kit Plumridge took on the physical remodel. They removed walls to open the view from the storefront, then answered the challenge of hanging a moveable wall in the back, adding even more space for more art.

Tucked into an alcove nearby, a monitor is mounted at eye level with a keyboard below inviting visitors to engage and learn about any, or all of the gallery members with just a few keystrokes.

The new Topanga Canyon Gallery space. Not bigger, just better.

The opening reception on January 13, was full of people, cheek by jowl, yet they moved easily following the open flow of the room where each piece of art, whether hanging on a wall or set upon a pedestal seemed spotlighted in its own space.

The gallery doesn’t just seem larger, it is larger…but not really. I don’t know how they did it, but they did.

“You know the rule of 80:20, don’t you,” Ramsey asked. I didn’t. “Eighty percent will say yes to a volunteer project but only 20 percent do the work. But…” He paused, then broke into a broad grin. “Sixteen of our 18 members pitched in 100 percent and got it done. We flipped the rule.”


Flavia Potenza

Flavia Potenza is executive editor of the Messenger Mountain News. She is also a founding member of the 40-year old Topanga Messenger that closed its doors in 2016. She can be reached at

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