It’s an uncharacteristically cool, rainy afternoon when I climb the steps to Judie Bamber’s home and studio in a neighborhood off Sunset. As I enter her studio—a surprisingly spare and self-contained space—a rectangle of golden light seems to float on an easel set up at the rear of the room, seemingly appropriated from some magic hour we’re bound not to see on that particular day. As I move further into the room, I see that it’s a work in progress—with portions of the painting covered around this rectangle, which now discloses an identifiable section of human anatomy.
This is familiar terrain for Bamber—whose work almost always implicates the human body, however abstractly or indirectly—freshly defamiliarized. I’m drawn in, but my intrigue is checked, my reading at best provisional. The section floats, dislocated and slightly decontextualized. Bamber shows me the source for the image—a Playboy centerfold.
This is my first studio visit with the artist, although we’re familiar with each other from gallery openings and art events in Los Angeles. Bamber is relaxed and unassuming—her face framed beneath a soft, shaggy fringe of ash-blond hair, squarish eyeglasses, with a sensual smile that occasionally breaks into a toothy grin—with the casual poise of the teaching artist well-accustomed to introducing and talking about her own work with both collectors and students.
Image: Mom with Dad’s Painting, 2013, watercolor on paper, 14 3/16x19 7/16 in. , courtesy of the artist and Gavlak Los Angeles .