Cathy Breslaw's Installation

Cathy Breslaw's Installation
Cathy Breslaw's Installation:Dreamscape

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Mexican Photographers Reveal a Culture in Transition

Point Counterpoint
Museum of Photographic Arts
Through February 11th

Written by Cathy Breslaw

Yvonne Venegas, "Ivette," 2015. © Yvonne Venegas/Courtesy of the artist
Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego
Point Counterpoint presents the photographic images of 19 contemporary Mexican photographers at the Museum of Photographic Arts.  Underwritten by the Getty Foundation as part of the Pacific Standard Time exhibitions held across 70 institutions in southern California, it highlights the social, political and economic changes in Mexico. The work covers the years from 2000 to 2015 and was designed by both American and Mexican curators with a diverse range of work including issues of: the border, cultural identity, abstraction, appropriation and the human body. Artist Patricia Martin’s photographs digitally manipulate wedding portraits to examine the brides’ identity and traditional female roles and Ana Casa Broda’s works chronicle her own journey through motherhood.  Teresa Margolles uses the backdrop of abandoned theater marquees to display suicide notes, referencing decaying buildings and infrastructure and Mexico’s struggle with violence and the past. Maya Goded uses photography and video to document the emotional environment  of  women in vulnerable communities in Ciudad Juarez. Guillermo Arias also documents violence of Mexico’s drug war with a rising death count that effects the border regions. Jose Luis Cuevas’s work informs viewers with a dark photographic essay describing a spiritual world where faith and religion are exchanged for technology.  Frederico Gama documents a year long project with the goal of photographing an event for 12 years, in the 12th month, on the 12th day for 12 hours, focusing his camera on individuals who on that day abandon their everyday life to play the part of a religious pilgrim.  Yvonne Venegas’s series focuses on one of the wealthiest regions of Latin America and one that has kept drug violence at bay, revealing moments of authenticity as well as the denial of everyday reality of its citizens. Andres Carretero presents his Redheads Series (2009) of 32 large format images of Mexican redheads challenging expectations about what Mexicans are assumed to look like, either by outsiders or other Mexicans. Dr. Lakra, who is known for embellishing vintage images with tattoo-like designs that are both beautiful and repulsive, blurs the line between traditional and pop culture. Alex Dorfsman explores themes of the Mexican landscape through abstract views of natural and man-made artifacts and are representations of emotional spaces. Alejandra Laviada exhibits an abstract series of images of light, composed through multiple exposures and the images appear to float in space with each layer revealing a unique play with transparency and perspective. These photographers and others included in this exhibition largely reflect the cultural transformations occurring in Mexico and use themes of abstraction, landscape, religion, gender, and pain by providing viewers with a deeper understanding of the challenges of our Mexican neighbors in this global environment.

Alejandra Laviada, "Red, Yellow Composition," 2014. © Alejandra Laviada/Courtesy of the artist/
Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego

Guillermo Arias. A Federal Police officer guards outside a bar during a special operation at the Zona Norte area in Tijuana, Mexico, Friday, June 12, 2009. © Guillermo Arias/Courtesy of the artist/
Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Photographer Walker Evans Retrospective at San Francisco MOMA Tells Our American Story

Walker Evans Retrospective
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
San Francisco, CA

Through February 4, 2018

Article by Cathy Breslaw

Allie Mae Burroughs   Wife of a Cotton Sharecropper  Hale County Alabama  1936
gelatin silver print; private collection; Walker Evans Archive Museum of Metropolitan Art NYC

Senior Curator of Photography Clément Chéroux brings the Walker Evans Retrospective to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art from its’ exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in Paris. Walker Evans (1903-1975), was most interested in the “vernacular”, in expressing as the dictionary defines it: using a (visual) language or dialect native to a region or country. This solo exhibition includes 300 vintage prints and 100 art objects on loan from the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Getty Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago, the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., the Musée du quai Branly, the National Gallery of Canada. and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. 

Known for his documentary style, Evans was fascinated by the ordinary.  He photographed main streets of small towns, laborers, sharecroppers, dockworkers, transients, panhandlers, subway passengers and others whose challenging lives reflected human dignity and resilience in the face of adversity. His subjects were aware of being photographed, gazing directly into the lens of the camera and into the faces of the viewers who see this exhibition. Evans was also drawn to signage and typography, the organization of storefront displays, luncheonettes, gas stations, fruit and vegetable stands, and objects like paper, and flyers left by the side of the road – anything that revealed the character of the particular neighborhoods or towns he visited and photographed.

During the several decades of his career, Evans collected thousands of postcards, hand painted signage, tickets, flyers, logos, brochures including a few paintings done by the artist, which are exhibited alongside the hundreds of photographic prints, all organized by theme, but all of which are classic documentary images of life in America during the 20th century. Having spent 20 plus years as staff photographer at Fortune Magazine, Evans also worked for the Farm Security Administration during the Great Depression during the 1920’s – 1940’s where his photographs put a ‘face’ on the poverty and under-recognized farmers, and general culture that he felt revealed “American-ness” at that time.

Passionate about the minute details of everyday American life, Evans was a primary influence in the development of the American documentary style of photography and in helping to shape how we see history, and to see the ‘everyday’ as sublime. Though his photos were not meant to be ‘artsy’ or ‘beautiful’, Evans’ s renditions of life in America are compelling – both in their compositional constructions as well as in the content they display.

Floyd and Lucille Burroughs  Hale County Alabama  1936
gelatin silver print  collection of the J Paul Getty Museum LA
Walker Evans Archive, Metropolitan Museum of Art NYC

Walker Evans  Labor Anonymous  Fortune 34, No 5,   November 1946
offset lithography   Centre Pompidou, Musee Nationale d'arte moderne, Paris
Bibliotheque  Kandinsky  Collection of David Company;  Walker Evans Archive;
Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC

Walker Evans  Roadside Stand Near Birmingham/Roadside Store Between
Tuscaloosa and Greensboro Alabama  1936; gelatin silver print;  collection of the J Paul Getty Museum LA,
Walker Evans Archive, Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC

Walker Evans  Truck and Sign,  1928-30
gelatin silver print;  Walker Evans Archive,
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Never Seen Before in the U.S. - Modern Masters from Latin America: The Pérez Simón Collection at The San Diego Museum of Art

Modern Masters from Latin America: The Pérez Simón Collection
San Diego Museum of Art
Through March 11th, 2018e

Article by Cathy Breslaw

Diego Rivera   Portrait of Maria Felix      oil on canvas      1948

 Modern Masters from Latin America: The Pérez Simón Collection is part of the broadly based Pacific Standard Time LA/LA, a far-reaching and ambitious exploration of Latin American and Latino art. Supported by grants from the Getty Foundation, exhibitions and associated events are taking place through March 2018 at more than 70 cultural institutions across Southern California. Pérez Simón, a Mexican businessman and collector from Mexico City, generously provided 100 paintings of his over 3,000 works in collection to be exhibited together for the first time in the United States at the San Diego Museum of Art.  Curated and organized by San Diego Museum of Art Executive Director Roxana Velásquez, this exhibition covers artworks from the early 1800’s to the first decades of the 21st century. Featured artists include: Fernando Botero, Félix González-Torres, Frida Kahlo, Wilfredo Lam, Roberto Matta, José Clemente Orozco, Alfredo Ramos Martínez, Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros, Jesús Rafael Soto, and Rufino Tamayo. Countries represented in this exhibition are Argentina, Chile, Columbia, Cuba, Mexico, Peru, Brazil and Uruguay. Some underlying themes of these works reference modern colonial histories with the importance of landscape painting in the formation of distinctive national identities, the development of avant-garde styles, modern depictions of indigenous peoples and customs, the age of the metropolis and modernism. Many of the artists studied with masters in Europe where they were exposed to Cubism, Futurism,  Impressionism, and other art movements, then returning to their home countries to develop and share their distinctive voices. The exhibition styles range from abstraction to realism, with portraits as well as landscapes. The approximately 70 artists included in this exhibition provide insight into the complex histories of these countries that share their beginnings as settled primarily by Spain and Portugal, but have their own notable presence and identities. Viewing this broad spectrum of paintings introduces audiences to the divergent historical and more current circumstances of Latin American countries – the variety of ethnicities, the politics and culture, as well as commonalities among them.
Frida Kahlo, Girl form Tehuacán, Lucha María or Sun and Moon (Niña tehuacana, Lucha María o Sol y luna), 1942. Oil on Masonite. Colección Pérez Simón, Mexico © Rafael Doniz.

Courtesy of tJoaquín Torres García, Composition on Sun (Composición con sol), 1943.Oil on fibreboard on chipboard. Colección Pérez Simón, Mexico © Rafael Donizhe Estate of Joaquín Torres-García.

Fernando de Szyszlo, House Eight (Casa-ocho), 1978. Oil on canvas. Colección Pérez Simón, 
Mexico © Arturo Piera.