The last few months have been exciting, busy, and full of new discoveries. About a week ago, I returned from Los Angles, where I saw several exhibitions organized as part of Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945 – 1980, a hugely ambitious six-month Getty Foundation and Getty Research Institute initiative that encapsulates the history behind the birth of the Southern California art scene. Although my visit to L.A. was quick, I left inspired and revitalized from seeing powerful art that told a variety of stories, all emblematic of the richly diverse social fabric that shapes California. My two favorite exhibitions were Asco: Elite of the Obscure, A Retrospective, 1972–1987, organized by Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and Now Dig This! Art and Black Los Angeles 1960–1980, on display at the Hammer Museum.
The first presents a full survey of the wide-ranging performance and conceptual art of ASCO, a group of Chicano artists from East Los Angeles that included Harry Gamboa Jr., Gronk, Willie Herrón, and Patssi Valdez. This dynamic group used performance, public art, and multimedia to respond to social and political turbulence in Los Angeles and beyond. Their work and happenings felt exuberant, fun, and display a creative and diverse array of extravagant disguises. The art in Now Dig This! shared the same dynamism as that of ASCO. Yet, the works displayed a different materiality. Rather than immaterial or theatrical art, the works in this exhibition appeal to our visual and tactile senses through color, texture, and variety of materials. Artists like Noah Purifoy and John Outterbridge produce powerful sculptural objects that illustrate the many challenges confronted by the African-American community at the time. I recommend visiting Los Angles during this season of Pacific Standard Time—it is an experience you should not miss!
Looking ahead, 2012 will be a hectic but thrilling year. On April 28, 2012, I will travel to San Juan de Puerto Rico to install and open the 3rd Trienal Poli/Grafica El Panal/The Hive. As part of the curatorial team—which includes Deborah Cullen, Sergio Bessa and Rebeca Noriega—I have been working for the past year on selecting contemporary artists and collectives whose work speaks of or is based on collaboration, the theme of next year’s triennial. Historically, the event has been about printmaking, a rich and long tradition in Puerto Rico. In 2004, the concept behind the triennial shifted to include works based on a variety of media that conceptually related to the ideas behind printmaking (i.e. edition, repetition, distribution, collectiveness). We defined the theme of the 3rd Trienal Poli/Grafica El Panal/The Hive around the idea of graphic practice as reliant on an essentially collaborative spirit, emphasizing the social networks in which artists and their practices converge.
The year will continue at full speed as The Blanton prepares to open the retrospective exhibition of Brazilian artist Waltercio Caldas at the Fundação Iberê Camargo in Porto Alegre, Brazil. I will co-curate this exhibition along with Gabriel Pérez-Barreiro of the Cisneros Foundation in NYC, and will work in collaboration with the foundation in Brazil. We are very excited to be the first North American institution to develop a full career survey of one of Brazil’s most important contemporary artists. The exhibition will travel through Latin America between the fall of 2012 and spring of 2013 and will later open at The Blanton Museum of Art on October 27, 2013. Caldas’ work calls for deep visual engagement through unique elegant forms and materials. The excitement I feel for this project lies in the unpredictable visual chemistry that I imagine a full display of his work will generate once installed in our galleries. Stay tuned!
Image: Waltercio Caldas
Escultura em granito [Granite sculpture], 1986
Granite, 4 x 19 5/8 x 15 3/4 in.
Purchase as a gift of Margaret McDermott in memory of Barbara Duncan, 2005