From time to time I meet people who read this blog and have no idea what The818 is. (Even more frequently I meet people who don’t read this blog and have no idea what The818 is, but I digress.) And then other times I meet people who are like “No way, The818.com? How was that even available? I would totally buy a t-shirt of your logo.
For those who don’t know, The 818 (pronounced the eight-one-eight) is the area code for LA’s San Fernando Valley, home of the Valley Girl and often seen as the birth place of materialistic yet vapid 80’s shopping culture at large. If you’ve seen the movie Valley Girl, or heard the Moon Unit Zappa song, then you kind of have a general idea of what I’m talking about.
As you may or may not have gleaned, I’m a Valley Girl born and raised (fun fact, I was born in the shadow of the Sherman Oaks Galleria and I’ve had the same 818 phone number since 1997, even when I lived in New York) and I’m weirdly proud of it, despite all of our negative stereo types. Not to drool over Paul Thomas Anderson in two posts in two days, but his perfectly captured gritty neon drenched yet still beautiful and magnolia-and-jasmine scented Valley is in many ways the Valley I know and love. The Valley I’ve refused to leave, marrying my high school sweetheart and living within spitting distance of the High School soda machines we met in front of. An urban townie of sorts.
Sometimes The Valley gets a bad rap (see: Clueless’ now infamous “Val Party” sequence which ends with Cher alone and terrified in the Circus Liquor parking lot — which incidentally is in North Hollywood and not Sun Valley as Amy Heckerling would have you believe). My beloved “818” sits on the north side of the Hollywood Hills while Hollywood, West Hollywood, and Beverly Hills sit to the south. Ventura Blvd, Mullholland Drive, and Sunset Blvd provide major markers for those who would turn their noses up at your depending on which side of “the hills” you live on, despite the Valley’s many a-list residents and lion’s share of the major movie studios. Okay, now I’ve seriously digressed. Oh wait — I told you all of that to explain that there was a good heaping of underdog pride that went in to the naming of this site, way back when I had no idea what I was even registering a web address for.
It’s that same gritty beautiful Valley underdog pride that I see in the work of my long time friend and world-class artist (and dedicated Mama to her sweet toddler Peribeau) Natalia Fabia. She finds beauty in places where many fail to look for it at all. When she posted the above JEM painting (one of her latest) on Instagram I freaked out on so many levels. I had to show it to you guys. I’ve loved Natalia’s work since we were in High School together — collectors of her early stuff might have been lucky enough to snag a painting of my husband in full punk-rock regalia. Her style has grown and evolved as she has, without ever losing sight of it’s roots. Visually she toes the line between fantasy and reality, and sometimes it’s hard to remember that you aren’t looking at a photograph but mere oil and glitter on panel painted expertly by the human hand.
Anyway, Natalia has a show running along with some other freaking incredible artists at the Corey Helfond Gallery in Culver City through March 28th. You can see her incredible work on display, and yes you can even buy one of your very own.