“Heroine Junkie” exhibit at the Dark Art Emporium in downtown Long Beach celebrates women while giving to charity


Kristen Naeem | Signal Tribune

Dan Litzinger's portraits of non-binary people and women will be on display at the Dark Art Emporium in downtown Long Beach until Dec. 24.

Los Angeles-based artist, Dan Litzinger, raised money for his portrait subjects’ favorite charities through his solo exhibition “Heroine Junkie” at the Dark Art Emporium in downtown Long Beach, which had its opening reception on Saturday, Dec. 14.

Litzinger has been participating in group exhibitions since 2013, but “Heroine Junkie,” is his first solo show. The exhibition will be on display at the Dark Art Emporium until Dec. 24.

The exhibit features pop art renderings of women and non-binary models Litzinger connected with through Instagram. His models sent Litzinger pictures of themselves that he then used as references for his paintings. Half the proceeds of each piece sold will benefit a charity of the model’s choice. Among the selected charities are Planned Parenthood, LA Downtown Women’s Center and more.

When asked why he chose to focus his first solo exhibition on women and non-binary people, Litzinger said the show is a reaction to the mistreatment of women and non-binary individuals by President Donald Trump’s administration.

“The current administration in America, I feel, is attacking women and non binary people,” Litzinger told the Signal Tribune, “I just wanted to make a comment about that. At the same time, I don’t particularly want to do anti- [45th administration] work. So, I want to do positive, pro women work instead.”

While Litzinger admits that his art by itself may not make a large impact, the funds raised by the show will go towards groups that do. He also plans to continue painting women and non-binary people that reach out to him through Instagram.

“I love art that says something,” Litzinger said. “I also love pop art that’s just good to look at and pretty in your house and everything. So that’s why I wanted to have everybody pick a charity, and all of my artist’s proceeds go to those charities, so it’s actually making a change. I know each individual painting of my own personal work is not really saying a whole lot. It’s just a celebration of things that I think are positive and believe in, and then the money goes to actually making real change in the world.”

Litzinger’s art is also a response to racial prejudice he has noticed in the art world. On the wall of the Dark Art Emporium is a description of an encounter Litzinger had last year with a gallerist, in which they advised Litzinger not to make paintings of African American women because they would not sell. The largest piece in “Heroine Junkie” is a painting of a smiling African American woman making a heart with her fingers.

In keeping with the theme of celebrating women, Litzinger dedicated the exhibition to his wife, Chelsea.

While Litzinger is heavily inspired by Roy Lichtenstein, and has been since the seventh grade, his pop art sets itself apart in its use of color and the type of subjects used. Lichenstein painted primarily caucasians, and Litzinger was unaware of any paintings by the famous pop artist depicting African Americans.

“I’ve never seen a Lichtenstein of an African American person at all,” Litzinger told the Signal Tribune. “Which is crazy when you think about it.”

Litzinger earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Video and Film from the Savannah College of Art and Design before starting a 10 year career as a film and television editor in Los Angeles. He has worked on the well known MTV series Catfish: The TV Show, as well as Showtime’s Gigolos, and now lives in Glendale with his wife and son.