At the age of 97, Los Angeles-based artist Luchita Hurtado has been painting surreal compositions for 80 years, but only recently has she garnered fame, thanks to a recent biennial, Made in LA 2018, at the Hammer Museum. As the only deviation from the contemporary, the 11 paintings included in the show were all painted in the 1960s and 70s. Although these paintings are decades old, the content remains modern in the midst of the #MeToo campaigns.
Hurtado was born in Venezuela and moved to New York City as a child, but has since lived in Mexico City, San Fransisco and now, Santa Monica. Her life has ironically been filled with artistic inspiration. Married to two artists and collectors, Wolfgang Paalen and Lee Mullican, Hurtado has a son, Matt Mullican, who is also an artist. Familiar friends with modern giants such as Man Ray, Rufino Tamayo, Agnes Martin, and Isamu Noguchi, Luchita Hurtado watched as other careers flourished while continuing to paint. Although, Hurtado showed at multiple exhibitions, her professional career did not take off.
Many of Hurtado's works are self portraits that appear foreshortened at the edges of her canvas, looking downwards. In contrast with her nude body, Hurtado utilizes patterned rugs and blue skies as backdrops. This perspective is rarely seen compositionally and even more unique aesthetically. However, Hurtado's perspective and the perception tools she uses provides a more feminist viewpoint. Particularly in tune with women's movements of the 1960s and 70s, Hurtado's representation of her own body is a statement of her personal presence and power. Amidst the ever changing backdrops, her body is the only constant. She also employs symbolism such as fruit; referring to sexuality, and traditional pattern work seen on baskets and blankets, referencing domestic labor and family. Hurtado was also interested in environmental movements during her life, which can be seen in her more surrealist landscapes. Within desert landscapes and mountains, Hurtado merges the human body. Breasts become sand dunes, feet become hill tops, and implied body parts connect with the natural world. Hurtado proposes that the earth is as much a living thing as the human body and we are ingrained as its presence as an organism.
With remarkable content still very relevant to the current sociopolitical environment, Hurtado's unique perspective is finally being rightly launched into a more mainstream eye. In comparison to her peers, Hurtado stands alone, showcasing a surrealist foundation but with a strong central feminist theme.
Established in 1974, the Creative Growth Art Center, was conceived during a time when people with disabilities were being deinstitutionalized in California. Founders, Florence and Elias Katz created the space with the inclusive individual in mind. Creative Growth provides an open area, shared workspace that serves people with developmental, physical and mental disabilities, along with professional exhibition space that presents seven exhibitions annually. With unending limits of artistic expression and an inspired environment, Creative Growth has successfully served artists and led them onto professional careers. Scanning their list of exhibiting artists, Creative Growth boasts an immense list of both longtime artists, such as William Tyler since 1978, and new artists, like Ying Ge Zhou since 2010. With an international focus, Creative Growth has welcomed individuals from all over the world to participate in their open studio programming.
Creative Growth's current exhibition, Matters At Hand, showcases the approaches to three-dimensional works of art through the multimedia use of wood, ceramic, installation and fiber, all by working artists at the Creative Growth Studio. Viewing the dynamic subject matter with the apparent innovative practice, each artist showcases an exploration into their individual medium and inspiration. Past exhibitions such as HOME Show and RE/Configurations have selected artists to discuss issues of identity, displacement, personal connection and the human condition.
Not only do these artists present in-house exhibitions, but have been shown extensively both nationally and internationally. From major art fairs, such as the Venice Biennial and CONDO, to major museums and galleries, such as the Museum of Modern Art, Creative Growth has successfully developed talent that is in high demand across the world. They have also collaborated with corporations such as Anthropologie, Levis, and Target to elevate their artists' exposure within non-art realms. Currently considered very valuable by interested collectors, Creative Growth artists offer a genuine artistic expression that is rarely seen within mainstream art and as our ideals of inclusive spaces expands, these artists, their inspirations and their talented practice are a welcomed departure.
Check out more of Creative Growth Art Center and their artists.
Art museum visitors usually adhere to a certain set of rules while attending exhibitions; keep your voices low and do not touch the artwork. However, upon visiting the Philadelphia Museum of Art, attendants might encounter a very different space. As a part of their Fringe Festival, the Philadelphia Museum of Art invited a performance group to showcase the art in a new light. New York-based Monica Bill Barnes & Company has thus created The Museum Workout. Previously a program at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Monica Bill Barnes & Company were invited to create a new program for this specific space. With oldies hits blaring through the intercom system, the participating attending group, led by Artistic Director Monica Barnes and Associate Director Anna Bass, in glittering dresses and running shoes, jog through the gallery space, past masterworks by Titian, Matisse and Picasso. The Museum Workout stops at certain works to do squats and lunges, leading them through a 45 minute workout that doesn't necessarily act as a traditional tour.
Although the interactive performance takes place within the space, it does not point out or discuss specific works. With the voiced aid of children's book author Maira Kalman, the tour features an overhead commentary by Kalman that describes her specific art museum experience. Instead of commenting on artists, mediums or practices, Kalman examines her feelings towards the overwhelming quality of art, how they act as guardians over her, and even when the best time to walk away from the work is. This more personal content acts as a different entry point for some viewers, who may find art museums challenging to connect with and intimidating.
Her commentary paired with the fun oldies hits and the constant movement all aim to create a completely new viewing experience that has more to do with lifting our minds out of the veritable traditions of art viewing; this quiet reflection that we encounter. Museum Workouts wants to tap into the physical side to support a new understanding of the art; one that is perhaps more carnal and initially personal. By physically placing our minds into a different context, Museum Workouts successfully enables the connection of thoughts and feelings associated with the artwork that are rarely seen and even more rarely taught in traditional contexts.
Title image courtesy of Whhy.