Thursday, February 2, 2012

Recommended: MEX/LA at the MOLAA

You only have a few days left to catch a great exhibit in Long Beach called, MEX/LA: Mexican Modernism(s) in Los Angeles 1930-1985 which "intends to tell a history of L.A. or of Mexico that often has not been seen as neither and yet it is important and both." It is showing at the Museum of Latin American Art, but ends February 5th, 2012.

The exhibit, which spans over four decades, is made of many different medias and has pieces from great Mexican artists like David Alfaro Siquieros and modern Chicano artists like Chaz Bojórquez.

The show can be broke down into three type sections: First, there are the Mexican artists like Siquieros and José Clemente Orozco who are represented in the show mostly because they painted murals when they visited Los Angeles. Although there are also a few artists represented in this show who were born in Mexico, but later moved to Los Angeles, or spent a good part of their lives living in Los Angeles--and therefore being influenced by the city.

Then there are many pieces by artists who have no blood-relation to Mexico but were being influenced by Mexico, either because they lived there for a while or studied Mexican art and culture. Although this section, spends a lot of time devoted to architecture, to me the most interesting things were the pieces relating to popular culture. For instance, the exhibit includes a short from the Disney film The Three Caballeros, which was created after studio artists visited Mexico to soak up the culture. (And video featuring the Spanglish-speaking Speedy Gonzalez)!

Lastly, there are the Chicano artists like Barbara Carrasco and Bojórquez, who has more than one piece in the show. Of course, once again to help represent the Chicano/a culture there is also a beautiful lowrider from Jesse Valadez Sr. right at the entrance, which is actually very much a highlight.

Other highlights include work by Yolanda López: photographs; drawings from her Virgen de Guadalupe series; and a very hilarious installation titled, "Things I Never Told My Son About Being A Mexican." The other highlight, for me, were all the great photographs of people--mostly of Chicanos/as in East L.A. There were many from ASCO member Harry Gamboa Jr. and some great ones from Graciela Iturbide, who in the 80s, took up residence with a family from the East L.A. barrio of White Fence and shot lots of photographs of Cholas on their daily routines.

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