A Journey to Smile Isle with Daniel Rolnik

On September 16, 2014 by Evan Senn

Smile-Isle-Poster4-e1409070300231Daniel Rolnik is one of the funniest, most charming individuals to come out of the Los Angeles art world in quite some time. “The world’s most adorable art critic” is more of an all around art world star than just an adorable critic. His charm and warm personality are magnetic and people flock to anything he has his hand in. His adorableness rivals that of the king of art world adorableness, critic Peter Frank. Well, Rolnik is now opening his own commercial art gallery in the city of Santa Monica, and his inaugural exhibit, “Smile Isle”  has a large number of L.A.’s rising stars, forming what looks to be L.A.’s newest ‘Cool School.’ Rogue Arts got a chance to pick the strange brain of this adorable mastermind, and peek behind the curtain of this extraordinary wizard and his first exhibit in the Daniel Rolnik Gallery.

“Our first exhibit, Smile Isle, is a dream come true and I want to make it even more fun by sipping sparkling lemonade with you. We may see some whales while we watch the sunset – from the windows of the gallery, you can surely bet – that you can walk away with any artwork knowing you got the best deal in town. I’m here for you, friends and family, to make your smiles go ’round!” – Daniel Rolnik 

Daniel Rolnik Gallery 2

Daniel Rolnik and Ryan McIntosh working in the Daniel Rolnik Gallery

As your inaugural exhibit, did you have a theme, intention or bigger experience you were trying to go for?

I was trying to find the meaning of life and it turns out… its 42; so that wasn’t a big enough experience for me. I opted for a starting a gallery instead. I wonder how that’ll turn out. I hope it’s less predictable.

Why did you choose the artists you chose?

There’s this magician I consult with up in North Carolina. He has a talking Chihuahua.

What different types of art work will be exhibited? Photography, Drawing, Sculpture, etc.


Can you tell us a little bit about the experience a visitor might have in this show?

I’ve only had one encounter with a visitor so far. It was when I was sleeping in my bed some years ago and I felt a tug at my feet, which awoke me to this small monkey-like creature walking around. It scared me, but then I went back to bed. So, I hope that if a visitor comes by the gallery we will get a chance to talk. I don’t think I’ll be so afraid this time because I’ll already kind of know what to expect. Though, if I’m honest, I think I will be a little afraid if a bunch of them come at once. I’m not really prepared for that. What do they eat?

Do you have a personal favorite work in the show? Favorite art dialogue (between a couple pieces)? Favorite artist?

I’ve never heard a painting talk to another painting before. That would be wild and I would love to hear a conversation like that. Like, maybe a Van Gogh portrait whispering to a Picasso portrait. I wonder if they’d get along. Maybe they’re buddies. I don’t think Jackson Pollack paintings get along with anyone and I’m sure Andy Warhol paintings just about chew your ear off with stories.

Do the artists you chose have anything in common?

Yes, I think they all own at least one pair of socks. Though I’m not 100% certain. I’m always losing mine.

Why the title, Smile Isle?

It’s a lifestyle thing. Some people frown, some people sneer, but we all smile. Doctors are looking into it.

You are using a short poem as a curatorial statement—why is that? Will this be a staple in every show you put on?

Obama told me to do it and I’m definitely not arguing with the President. He knows I don’t vote.

If you could work with any artist in the future, who would it be and why?

I would absolutely love to work with the artist that I used to be when I was child. I think he was pretty good and has gone downhill since. Could you imagine the possibilities of that? Hey, it’s Daniel, working in the future with the Daniel of the past. I can’t wait for that world. I would be able to tell myself so many things that could maybe alter my future in even more brilliant ways. But I would probably just mess with myself and play pranks on what I used to be. I’m just being brutally honest here.

What do you think the Daniel Rolnik Gallery will bring to the art world that isn’t already there?

The art world can stay over there; we’re doing something different over here. I don’t really know where there is anyways, but it must be a more macabre place than here. After all, it’s got one extra letter and it’s hung on a cross.

Why did you choose to start your gallery in Santa Monica?

Santa Monica chose me. She got up and came to my house in the mountain and said Daniel, it’s time you start your gallery in my city. I said, but everyone is starting galleries in downtown. Rather than argue with me, she picked me up in her convertible and drove me to see the space. She didn’t need to say another word. I stood in that space and angels flew out amongst me. I’ll just leave it there.

How has the community reception been, since moving in?

They threw a wonderful party for me on the Santa Monica pier. Let’s just say whatever happens on the ferris wheel, stays on the ferris wheel.

You call yourself the world’s most adorable art critic—which is amazing and awesome. What’s the story behind that?

I don’t usually call myself. I mean, I have by accident. Usually I call my best friend Ryan or my brother. I’m really big on calling family and friends. But only my really close friends. Regular friends don’t get called as much as I should probably call them. I’m working on it. Have you ever tried to call me? You know, my voice machine is always full. I can’t keep up. I try to respond as much as I can.

What’s your background in art, curation and criticism?

I never stop moving, it’s a weird condition, I think it’s called adventurer syndrome or something. Because of that my background is always changing. Sometimes it’s the Appalachian mountains, but most of the time it’s somewhere scenic in Los Angeles. We may not be able to see many stars in the sky here, but we have some of the world’s best sunsets.

What do you want the art lovers in L.A. to know about your space?

Please don’t make love in my space.

Daniel Rolnik, about to swiffer in the Daniel Rolnik Gallery

Daniel Rolnik, about to swiffer in the Daniel Rolnik Gallery


SNEAK PEEK into “Smile Isle”

An Opening reception will be held September 18th from 6 – 10 PM. The group show will feature: Bradford J. Salamon, Kevin Russ, Graham Curran, Isabelle Alford-Lago, Ryan McIntosh, Chris Rexroad, Clark Walter, Alisa Yang, Kyle Hobratschk, Gregory Siff, Andrew Miripolsky, Terri Berman, Douglas Alvarez, Morgan LeMaster, Trace Mendoza, The Little Friends of Printmaking, Nicole Bruckman, Bwana Spoons, Michael C. Hsiung, Jon Stich, Amze Emmons, Camilla Taylor, Rick Morris, Amery Sandford, Porous Walker, Janelle Hessig, Tripper Dungan, Mary Delioussina, Keith Dugas, Bruce Lee Webb, Mike Reynolds, T.S. Claire, Haunted Euth, Erwin Recinos, Claudia Kleefeld, Jesse Tise, Sam Moody, Airom Bleicher, and Darcy Yates.

Daniel Rolnik Gallery
1431 Ocean Ave.
Santa Monica, CA 90401

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Protected by WP Anti Spam