MostModern Art

Hillcrest artist Sean Brannan, 42, and his winning piece in PacificSD’s MostModern Art contest, “Far East” (mixed media collage on panel, 16” x 20”),

By Pat Sherman
Photos By Brevin Blach

When PacificSD put out a call for painters, potters, illustrators and other midnight-oil burners, our readers and their creative network got busy, submitting more than 400 works in our second annual art contest. THANK YOU all for the overwhelming response. We wish we had space to share every brush stroke and shutter click from this amazing consortium.

Four local art professionals graciously shared their expertise as judges: graphic artist Kristen Lucci, a senior designer at Jacob Tyler Creative Group and board member of the San Diego chapter of the American Institute of Graphic Arts; craftsman Gustaf Rooth, owner of Planet Rooth Design Haus; art dealer Alexander Salazar, of Alexander Salazar Fine Art; and John Wilson, executive director of the Timken Museum in Balboa Park.

The judges met at PacificSD’s makeshift gallery (in the hallways of our office in Old Town), where they enjoyed an artful feast, courtesy of Eden and
ChileCo Catering. Each of their seven favorite entries (as well as those of Ben Strauss-Malcolm, director of Quint Contemporary Art) was added to a final pool of contenders that included the top 30 vote-getters from our Facebook contest gallery ( After a lively discussion and thorough consideration of these cumulative submissions, the judges selected first- through fifth-place winners, as well as five honorable mentions.

You’ll no doubt see our winning artists out painting the town red, as each will receive his or her share of $1,500 in gift certificates to the restaurants, bars and nightclubs featured in this magazine.

(Editor’s note: After much deliberation, despite their initial differences, the judges finally came to a consensus to select the winners.)
Sean Brannan: The approach I take to painting is to access the subconscious through the creative process. I believe that in the creation of art, or an image, one gains understanding of themselves by realizing that part of us which is otherwise inaccessible.

My recent body of work is created using a semi-transparent photo adhesive paper imported from Asia. These new paintings, which I refer to as “Thickets,” due to their dense bamboo-like appearance, are created by layering strips of the paper that have been hand-painted, pre-printed, or by using image transfers. The paper is collaged in a manner that uses balance, contrast and color to create an instinctual yet harmonious aesthetic.

Art Experts Say ...
Gustaf Rooth: What got me most was the simplicity and the use of color.
John Wilson: I just like the colors and the design, the really tight lines that occasionally just sort of blur into the other ones.
Kristen Lucci: I didn’t vote for this one (at first). I definitely considered it. It’s intriguing to me, but in a way, I thought it was almost too obvious.
Alexander Salazar: I think Sean Brannan’s doing something very unique by taking paper that’s from foreign lands and creating it in his own style. It takes a lot of time to make this. He understands color, so it’s almost like color theory.

Ramona Szczerba: Sometimes the practical thing just won’t do, and that is how Aurelia ended up with her stunning Jellyfish Cruiser. In her search for a little something to knock around her undersea town in, she stumbled upon the J3000 Series Sychphozoa Turbo Cabriolet and felt her heart turn to jelly. The test drive did Aurelia in-the elegant design, the handcrafted etching on the nautilus shell body and the feeling of tentacles blowing through her hair when she really opened up the 800-seahorse power engine. She had to have it! Sure, she’s had to put in a little more overtime, but it’s been worth every sand dollar, and the fish heads that turn as she zips by in her Jellyfish Cruiser make her smile each and every time. I hope she does the same for you.

Art Experts Say ...
Gustaf Rooth: The fact that she’s using old pictures of fish and a pretty girl from the Roaring Twenties is good, but it’s not original enough to where I would think it should be on the cover.
John Wilson: It has a really marvelous sense of design and whimsy that I really like. It has a slightly surrealist, slightly Dadaist, kind of Victorian scrapbook feel to it. It has this delightful bit of nuttiness, and the craft is really good.
Kristen Lucci: I think what drew me to it was the color and the back and white mixed together. The watercolor background is really soft and airy, then you have these really graphic images on top-the fishes and the woman, the interesting little floatation device. It’s really old-school and illustrative.
Alexander Salazar: I like collage. I think it’s is a dying medium. She did a really good job on it.

Retention (oil on canvas, 30” x 30”) Artist: Krassimir Tzonov, 41, Pacific Beach


Krassimir Tzonov: I have been painting since primary school in Bulgaria. During high school, I painted watercolor landscapes, realistic portraits and enjoyed caricatures. As a college student in Sofia, I was interested in contemporary architecture, deconstructivist philosophy and abstract art. The confluence of architecture and art has fascinated me throughout the creative process. For the last three years, I have developed a body of work inspired by many different sources: the human body, nature, geometry, mythology, daily life, emotions, memories and dreams. I enjoy figurative drawing and I like to create paintings inspired by live models. Process is essential to my work and it usually begins with the medium of acrylics and/or oil. I use large brushes, paint scrapers and apply the paints spontaneously and intuitively.

Art Experts Say ...
Gustaf Rooth: I like the transparency, the use of dark to light, creating a little three-dimensional picture. It creates curiosity. You draw your own pictures in your mind. I see a seagull, a man in a helmet, kind of a cityscape buried beneath the layers and textures.
John Wilson: I liked it, but it was a little bit too muddy for me.
Kristen Lucci: I like more abstract art, but I guess in this case I saw others that interested me more.
Alexander Salazar: I just like it. I think that abstract art is difficult, but you can actually see the texture in the photograph. I think there’s a lot that you can decipher in what it might be.

Fourth Place: The Botanist (heavily textured acrylic on canvas) Artist: Stacy D’Aguiar

Fifth Place: Volcan 1 (mixed media on canvas, 60” x 60”) Artist: Alejandro Martínez-Peña



Down Time (mixed media) Artist: Dani Dodge