GLENDALE, Calif. — When the pandemic hit, artist Julika Lackner transformed her pandemic isolation into a series of paintings that re-examine and re-imagine the landscapes in her backyard.
It was her way of conquering the fear that the pandemic would be catastrophic to her art practice.
"I was like, 'Nobody's going to buy art now. What am I gonna do?'" Lackner said. "You know, we were all thinking it's all going to end, but it didn't. So, I kind of just worked nonstop. And that's how I dealt with it."
Over the past two years, Lackner's productivity shot up, and now 17 of the nocturnal landscapes she painted are on display at the Forest Lawn Museum in Glendale.
Lackner was born in Germany and, since moving to LA, has been fascinated with the unique quality of color and light in SoCal. During the pandemic, she decided to focus on the landscapes in her backyard.
"I really actually enjoyed focusing on what was close," she said.
Lackner captures her views during "magic hour," that short transitional time between day and night, mixing photorealistic details with more stylized stripes of colors in her skies. The spectral bands of color in the skies are also Lackner's response to the unique nocturnal feel of Southern California.
"Something that's very unique about the LA skies is they're never actually dark," Lackner explained. "It's always full of a ton of colors."
Forest Lawn Museum Director James Fishburne was struck by Lackner's work and brought the paintings for her first museum exhibition.
"I was just immediately struck by both how foreign and familiar they felt at the same time," Fishburne said.
Since Lackner was concentrating on neighborhoods of northeast LA, Fishburne invited her to create some paintings from atop the Forest Lawn Museum lookout, which offers a 360-degree view of the city.
"She really is sort of a master of manipulating light, just wows you with light and color," Fishburne said.
Entitled "Evening Mile," the exhibition gives viewers an intimate look at the beauty right outside our doors, and Lackner said this sense of place is what people have been responding to most in her work.
"They really like seeing their neighborhood represented," she said. "It's like, 'Oh, you're doing northeast LA justice.' That felt really good."
And having the "Evening Mile" exhibition at the Forest Lawn Museum allows visitors to see not only Julika Lackner's vivid paintings, but also some of the views that inspired them.