Born in Los Angeles, Gail Greenfield Randall spent twenty years producing colorful figurative paintings with a modernist twist. When her grandmother died in 2006 Randall unexpectedly found a new form of self-expression in assemblage.

“I adored my grandmother. She is really responsible for teaching me to look for beauty in all the things that surround us. I remember she had a drawer in her bureau that had dividers and each of the compartments held a little treasure, like seashells, a pocket watch, bird feathers, a soft leather tobacco pouch, a piece of my mother’s hair tied with a ribbon. I just loved it. When she passed away, the memory of that drawer kept bobbing to the surface of my mind and I knew exactly where my art needed to go. I started making assemblages, incorporating pieces from collections I’ve maintained over the years, found materials, wonderful treasures given to me from friends’ basements and attics, and objects I create myself.”

Randall’s assemblages are clearly indebted to Joseph Cornell, the master of the form, however there are distinct differences between the work of the two artists. Whereas Cornell’s boxes explore metaphysical themes and the concept of duality, Randall’s pieces are less abstract and ethereal. There is a coherent narrative thread that runs through each of her pieces, and, in that sense, the boxes function as a kind of proscenium stage where a drama unfolds. Randall telegraphs her narratives to the viewer through an alphabet of objects that’s entirely her own. Clocks, pool balls, metal stamps, tiny seahorses, keys, medicine bottles, hand-painted spools -- she tells stories and many of them involve the palpable tactility of the clusters of ephemera that fill her assemblages. The smooth fragility of an egg; the cool of a glass vial filled with water; the undulating surface of a seashell -- the viewer needn’t hold these objects to know what they feel like. A shared sense-memory is activated by the sight of them; to look at these objects is to know how they feel.

“I’m really a Luddite, and I’m drawn to objects that are not mass-produced -- things that were made beautifully. By encapsulating a vignette I’ve created, I feel as if I have stopped time. Whatever feelings that piece evokes -- melancholy, yearning, dread, peace or delight -- have been preserved. It’s not going anywhere. It’s a snapshot of time.”

Randall's work has been shown at Track 16 at Bergamot Station in Santa Monica, where she was featured in two shows and given a permanent installation for three years, as well as the Robert Berman Galley and the Los Angeles Craft and Folk Art Museum, where she was part of its lauded tribute to Joseph Cornell. Her work has been covered in the Los Angeles Times , the LA Review and ArtNet.


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