The James Gray Gallery at Bergamot Station is a pay-to-display gallery. The start-up fee is worth it to some who utilize the gallery’s upscale appeal and professionalism to gain sharp exposure.

If an artist’s experience with the gallery is successful the first time around, then subsequent runs are free. It’s not all about money though, as some artists have offered huge sums of money to display at the gallery yet were denied a show.

One artist who has made it through the gauntlet and is now showing for a second consecutive run at the James Gray Gallery is Dan Van Clapp, a unique assemblage artist. His antiqued dolls feature in fantastic voyages in boats, horses and even atop a spotted toad!

Strange objects surround the protagonists, and lost souls hover, hang on and dip into alter worlds. The names of his work are haunting, too, such as No Remorse (mixed media, 30-inches x 8-inches x 26-inches) and Birth of a Martyr (mixed media, 70-inches x 13-inches x 34-inches). Others are more whimsical, such as Wreck of the Carne Asada (mixed media, 40-inches x 14-inches x 30-inches).

In their first run, the freestanding sculptures chromatically resonated with mixed media, multi-canvas works by Agustin Castillo, which hung on the walls around them. This time, though, Van Clapp’s meticulous work doesn’t jive as well with Stephanie Pyren’s gentle and dreamy watercolors and oils.

You can’t have everything, though, and while that room seems to be in transition, there are three other large rooms and a mezzanine, all with other work. Domesticity, the show in the mezzanine by Tim Townsley, is worth checking out. An idiosyncratic body of work, it ranges from prosaic and political to intellectual pop.

One piece features a triple recursion of the biggest potbelly ever, with books by Marx, Hegel and Pynchon in the background. What does that mean?

James Gray Gallery is located at 2525 Michigan Ave., Building D, Santa Monica. For more information, visit