Cathy Breslaw's Installation

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

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Making Communities - Art and the Border at University of California, San Diego Art Gallery

Making Communities: Art and the Border
University of California, San Diego, University Art Gallery
And SME Visual Arts Gallery, UC San Diego
Curated by Tatiana Sizonenko, Ph.D

Opening Friday, March 3rd,  5:30 – 8:00 pm
Show runs through April 13th, 2017

David Avalos    Donkey Cart Altar    mixed media   42" x 28" x 45" inches

Article by Cathy Breslaw

Making Communities: Art and the Border, features artists who are alumnas of the University of California, San Diego, with artworks created from 1978 to the present.  Wide ranging in its mediums including painting, drawing, photography, sculpture, installation, video, and film, this exhibition is timely in its focus on Mexicans living and working in the Tijuana/ San Diego border regions as our country faces the challenges , complexities and controversies over our immigration system and policies.  Through their art, these twenty artists examine immigrant communities, in both celebrating cooperation and engagement with both sides of the border and as a source of creativity, as well as highlighting the struggles people of this region endure. Yolanda M. Lopez’s lithograph “Who’s the Illegal Alien, Pilgrim?” is the oldest of the works(1978) using the familiar army poster “Uncle Sam Wants You” to question whether we are citizens of the U.S. or merely illegal aliens imposing ourselves on a land originally occupied by Aztecs and other Native American groups. David Avalos used his work “Donkey Cart Altar”(1985) as a political statement when he placed it in front of the San Diego Courthouse, serving to express the belief that immigrant laborers, working to feed their families were being treated as criminals. Judge Thompson ordered the work removed as a “security risk”, while many viewed this as removing Avalos’s right to free speech. Elizabeth Sisco, who photographed life along the U.S.-Mexican border for 15 years(1986-1988), exhibits thirteen silver gelatin prints, which are part of an ongoing documentary project that began in 1978, revealing the raids and policing activities of U.S. Border Patrol agents in neighborhoods and on public transportation, as well as examining biased stereotypes of Mexican workers. Ruben Ortiz-Torres’s combination videos( in collaboration with Eduardo Abaroa) and sculpture(1991, 2002), uses humor to explore contemporary culture influences seen from both Latin America and the United States, morphing one another in a pop-art style to speak to debates about blurred boundaries and how Mexican and North American identities are constructed. Through use of a combination of Speedy Gonzales and Mickey Mouse cartoon characters a statement about first and third world media, the political economy of free trade, tourism, Mexican labor and immigration. Artist Victor Ochoa’s painting “Mestizo”(2010) expresses his concerns over the misrepresentation among Hispanic people, identifying “mestizos” meaning “mixed” combining indigenous and white Europeans who have historically populated the regions - but who do not choose a racial category, and many consider being Hispanic as part of their racial background, not just an ethnicity. Deborah Small’s “The Ethnobotany Project”(2009-2017) is an installation of plants, herbs, books and materials -  part of an ongoing collaboration that promotes the cultivation and restoration of native plants, to bring awareness of cultural practices and to improve health and well being of Indian communities on both sides of the border. Highlighting Baja communities, Small’s work serves to educate about practices of the people of Baja, as well as to stimulate cultural exchanges and sustain traditions. Other artists included in the exhibition are those of the Cog’nate Collective, Collective Magpie, Alida Cervantes, Teddy Cruz, Ricardo Dominguez, Louis Hock, Las Comadres, Fred Lonidier, Jean Lowe, Kim MacConnel, Iana Quesnell, Allan Sekula, Perry Vasquez, and Yvonne Veneges.  Curator and alumna Tatiana Sizonenko Ph.D. Art History, comments “For artists represented here, the border is not a physical boundary line separating two sovereign nations but rather a place of its own, defined by a confluence of cultures reflecting on migration and cross-pollination.”

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Los Angeles County Museum of Art Exhibits John McLaughlin's Hard-Edged Paintings

John McLaughlin Paintings: Total Abstraction
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles
Through April 16th

Article by Cathy Breslaw

 Installation photography of John McLaughlin Paintings: Total Abstraction at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Sunday, November 13, 2016 – Sunday, April 16, 2017) photo © Museum Associates / LACMA

 John McLaughlin’s paintings are more about empty spaces than what is visible. An astute student of Japanese painting, McLaughlin sought to investigate the void, the “ma” as the Japanese describe it. He favored the work of the 15th century Buddhist monk Sesshu Toyo, whose paintings he often viewed at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston where McLaughlin grew up.  A self-taught artist, McLaughlin began painting at 48 years old, once he moved to Dana Point California in 1946. McLaughlin has come to be known as one of the most important southern California artists of the post world war II era. Rather than pursuing the abstract expressionist movement which dominated post-war painting, McLaughlin carved his own path. He was an innovator of hard-edged abstraction and the 52 easel-sized paintings, collages and drawings included in this exhibition prove that out.  The geometric lines, bars and other rectangular shapes in this collection of paintings appear to be used as markers, as ways of directing the viewer to observe the more essential empty spaces rather than of objects.  These highly disciplined carefully planned reductive works also play with figure ground relationships using limited color palettes. Towards the end of his career, McLaughlin limited his use of color to blacks, grays and whites. He deemed this work the best of his paintings.  The light-filled rooms at the Broad building along with carefully placed chairs (designed and built by artist/designer Roy McMakin) create meditative and peaceful opportunities to contemplate and ‘fall into’ the spaces of McLaughlin’s paintings. In his own words, McLaughlin explains his work: “My purpose is to achieve the totally abstract. I want to communicate only to the extent that the painting will serve to induce or intensify the viewer’s natural desire for contemplation, without benefit of a guiding principle…This I manage by the use of neutral forms.”
John McLaughlin, #10, 1965, oil on canvas, 48 × 60 in., The Eli and Edythe L. Broad Collection, © Estate of John McLaughlin, photo courtesy the Eli and Edythe L. Broad Collection

John McLaughlin, Untitled #16, 1962, oil on canvas, 36 × 48 in., JPMorgan Chase Art Collection,
© Estate of John McLaughlin, photo: James Prinz Photography

Hauser Wirth & Schimmel, Los Angeles Exhibits Jason Rhoades - Installations 1994-2006

Jason Rhoades: Installations  1994 – 2006
 Hauser Wirth & Schimmel, Los Angeles  Exhibition through May 21st

Article by Cathy Breslaw

Jason Rhoades My Madinah. In pursuit of my ermitage...   2004   Mixed media   Dimensions variable
 Installation view, ‘Jason Rhoades. Installations, 1994 – 2006’   Hauser Wirth & Schimmel, 2017  © The Estate of Jason Rhoades
Courtesy the estate, Hauser & Wirth and David Zwirner
Photo: Fredrik Nilsen
Jason Rhoades’s artist legacy was sealed at forty-one years of age when he died unexpectedly –  at a time in life when most artists are only coming into their own.  At Hauser, Wirth &  Schimmel, Rhoades six separate sprawling room-sized installations (created between 1994 – 2006)  breathe life into his memory.   He created these works ten years or more ago, yet they speak to timely current gender and racial politics, and our consumer culture. His work is bold and unselfconscious, pushing taboos aside to explore relationships of consumption to porn and sex using female genitalia as the symbolic vehicle for his creations. Swedish Erotica and Fiero Parts (1994) is his only work referencing the urban and cultural landscape of LA.  Tons of ordinary items, all in a unifying yellow color including cardboard, styrofoam, scrap wood, and more, are arranged to create sitting areas of small and large tables and chairs, bookshelves, including items of common consumption like rolls of toilet paper and reference Duchampian  notions of the readymade.  In My Brother/Brancuzi (1995) Rhoades juxtaposes his brother’s bedroom with famous sculptor Brancusi’s studio, with photographs along the large perimeter of the installation as well as mechanical objects, a toy monster truck, mini-bike and an industrial style doughnut maker – all drawing connections to the mechanics of the creation of Brancusi’s sculpture. In The Creation Myth (1998) Rhoades sought to understand why, how and what humans create by exploring Creationist/Evolutionist theories. Large tables are stacked throughout the huge installation and large white buckets are used to identify and distinguish the brain, and mind, body and spirit. He uses a moving electric toy train engine with a toy stuffed snake on top as metaphor for “train of thought”. Literally ‘smoke rings’ emerge from a machine, as metaphor for a personification of the ‘spirit’ which is ephemeral. My Medinah, In pursuit of my ermitage…(2004),  is an installation created with tables, wood parts, photographic covered poles, TVs, buckets and more representing part mosque, part temple creating a place of religious seclusion.  Once again  female genitalia imagery float above the scene, highlighting political incorrectness, taboos and hypocrisies. The Black Pussy…and the Pagan Idol Workshop (2005) was inspired by the intersection of commerce  and religion, and the ancient pre-Islamic story of the Kaaba. The installation comprises five core elements: Egyptian-made hookah pipes and paraphernalia , dream catchers, beaver-felt cowboy hats, a collection of ancient gongshi stones, and ultraviolet neon words depicting slang for vagina. This was this installation’s first time being shown.  Tijuanatanjierchandelier (2006) , the most recently created installation prior to Rhoade’s death, raises questions about consumerism in relation to tourism using border towns Tijuana Mexico and TangierMorocco as examples.  With these cities, though 6,000 miles apart, Rhoades blends trinkets with chandeliers, incorporating 176 Spanish and English neon “pussy words” transforming the act of consumption into an adventure of global trade. Mixing the Moroccan and Mexican tourist trade forces us to look at cultural stereotypes tourism encourages. Prior to 2006, Rhoade’s work was widely exhibited in Europe however this exhibition is the first comprehensive survey presented in his adopted city, Los Angeles. These complex installations are beautifully installed and the gallery provides the kind of massive spaces required to exhibit these mesmerizing mind-bending installations packed full of imagery, and cultural meaning.

Jason Rhoades Tijuanatanjierchandelier   2006   Mixed media   Dimensions variable
 Installation view, ‘Jason Rhoades. Installations, 1994 – 2006’
Hauser Wirth & Schimmel, 2017       © The Estate of Jason Rhoades
Courtesy the estate, Hauser & Wirth, David Zwirner and lender
Photo: Fredrik Nilsen

Jason Rhoades  The Creation Myth1998  Mixed media   Dimensions variable
 Installation view, ‘Jason Rhoades. Installations, 1994 – 2006’  Hauser Wirth & Schimmel, 2017
 © The Estate of Jason Rhoades
Courtesy Friedrich Christian Flick Collection im Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin
Photo: Fredrik Nilsen