L.A. Painter

L.A. Painter

The City I Know. The City I See

by Karla Klarin

L.A. PAINTER: THE CITY I KNOW. THE CITY I SEE showcases more than 100 remarkable paintings that evoke the Los Angeles that painter Karla Klarin knows best. Combined with thirteen thoughtful essays, Klarin addresses what it means to be an artist in the world’s most-talked-about modern metropolis—a place that constantly reminds us that talent is power. 

For four decades, Klarin’s brush has expressed the city as a geometry of color and line, fine art that evolves as the city evolves, ideas building upon ideas. With work that has been exhibited the world over, Klarin opens viewers’ eyes to more than just a landscape of sunshine, waves, and glitter—her paintings are a multidimensional look at a world-class city. Her city.

After years of using her brush to interpret L.A., Klarin augments her vibrant visual messages with commentary that is sometimes biographical, often historical, and always thought-provoking. She answers questions that emerge cyclically in the art world, questions that range from the philosophical to the specific, from the comparative to the far-ranging: 

What drives an artist to paint? How can an artist stay focused on a singular subject for years? How do artists survive if they aren’t famous? Why are all the super-famous artists male? Why are there so few works by women artists displayed in the world’s great museums? How does an artist maintain objectivity, especially when painting one’s hometown? Does an artist’s perception change with time? Do artists see the world differently than you and me?

Klarin tackles all the questions with the insights only experience can engender. Sometimes with humor, sometimes with glee, and sometimes with disdain. She tells the story of a major museum’s exhibition of her work and that of eight male artists. Theirs was in a main gallery, hers on the wall to the restrooms. And of the day when one of L.A.’s preeminent art collectors chose her work to hang front and center in her famous home. And what it feels like to have your favorite art pieces sold, never to see them again—ever. And to hear a male artist say, “Your career will be over if you have a child.” She went on to have two children and her career exploded.

In the pages of L.A. Painter, Klarin relates the facts in colorful detail, a contrast to the way her artwork captures her town in broad, bold brushstrokes. From the beaches, to the mountains, to the quietest corners of home, Klarin combines words and pictures to define The City I Know, The City I See. The foreword by John Walsh, director emeritus of the J.Paul Getty Museum, places her work in the world of contemporary landscape.

  • 160 pages
  • 7"h x 10"w
  • 100+ images
  • hardcover; 978-1-62640-113-6; $40.00


  • “The life of Klarin’s paint won’t be confined to the grid.” —JOHN WALSH, Director Emeritus, J. Paul Getty Museum.
  • “Only someone who truly embraces the city and can feel the energy that pulses in it could paint like this.” —ARTSCENE
  • “At the very moment of identifying Cezanne’s Mont St. Victoire or Klarin’s Valley, the works’ formal complexities surface.” —DAMON WILLICK, Art History Department Chair, Loyola Marymount University

About the author:

Karla Klarin was born in Los Angeles’s San Fernando Valley, was schooled in the Valley and Italy, and earned her BFA at San Francisco Art Institute and her MFA at Otis Art Institute. Her work is included in the collections of the Hammer Museum, LACMA, Frederick R. Weisman Art Foundation, and Fisher Art Museum, among others, as well as numerous private collections.

      $40.00 USD