After months of waiting with anticipation for The Getty Foundation's exciting project Pacific Standard Time LA/LA to arrive to over 70 art institutions across Southern California, I finally embarked on my treasure hunt throughout the region. The entire project offers an opportunity for the museums and university galleries involved to create an exhibition that features a faction of Chicano and Latino art. Upon checking out the corresponding catalog that lists all of the exhibitions, it became apparent that the institutions involved had produced shows that were thoughtful, diverse, and were vast in their themes and approaches. As the catalog for my guide, I plan to explore and report on as many as I can attend, which is seemingly just a fraction, of the amazing shows taking place across a very vast region.
As my inaugural stop, the Craft & Folk Art Museum presented The US-Mexico Border: Place, Imagination, and Possibility, an exhibition centered around contemporary artists discussing specifically the physical border and its imagined purpose. While utilizing various aspects of US and Mexican culture, and specifically the transference between the two, each artist created works that were both vibrant aesthetically and conceptually. For instance, Marcos Ramírez ERRE created Toy-An Horse (2016), a wooden two-headed horse sculpture inspired by the Greek myth of the Trojan Horse. Different from standard representations of the horse however, this sculpture has open lattice work throughout his body, showing the open cavity in a cage-like way, and in doing so, questioning the mutual relationship between the two countries and the ultimate transparency of our exchanges.
One of my favorite installation pieces, Estalagmitas Y Estalagtitas Urbanas (2014) by Betsabeé Romero was made of small rubber tires piled/suspended from the ceiling that were carved and guilded with patterned designs. Romero's focus on the tire as a medium resides in its various uses by manufacturing companies and transportation, but also as scrap that is then used as building material for homes along the hills of Tijuana. Romero's findings of these materials, and her subsequent use artistically, gives the tires a sense of being archived and provides a sort of monument to their existence. Another installation by Adrian Esparza entitled Vuela Vuela (2017) was also inspired by a readily seen item, the Mexican serape. Motivated by the graphic designs and colors of the traditional shawl, Esparza creates a site-specific wall hanging that deconstructs those colors and lines to then produce geometric abstractions of the original piece. Utilizing nails and thread, the large-scale work bursts with color and although it is not perfectly representational of the original material, the influence is apparent.
Just a taste of the many notable examples, the entire exhibition's focus on craftsmanship and material connected the artistic intention so effectively. The beautiful vibrancy of the pieces further aided in continuing the relevant and necessary dialogue these artists are conveying about the border, immigration, and a different perspective on the exchange of culture.
Pacific Standard Time LA/LA will be going on at 70+ art institutions around Southern California, many of which have just opened and will be up until January 2018. For more information and the full list of exhibits, check out Pacific Standard Time LA/LA