Cathy Breslaw's Installation

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

Thursday, September 28, 2017

UnDocumenta: 6 Mexican and Latino Artists Bring Border Issues, Immigration Home

Curated by Alessandra Moctezuma
Through January 28, 2018

Article by Cathy Breslaw
Ana Teresa Fernandez   Borrando la Frontera (Erasing the Border)   video

The Getty Museum has spearheaded and provided several grants for a large set of exhibitions and collaborations known as Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA. This ambitious project provides an awareness and dialogue across southern California about Latin American and Latino Art. From September 2017 through January 2018, Oceanside Museum is one of more than 70 cultural institutions in the region to participate. Organized and curated by Alessandra Moctezuma, UnDocumenta includes the work of six artists who wrestle with issues of immigration and the border, biculturalism, migration,
labor issues and human rights. Expressing themselves through video, photography, sculpture, social engagement, performance and interactivity, the work of these contemporary Mexican, Latino and American artists from both Tijuana and San Diego provides fertile ground for important conversations that beg to be had in a geographic area where shifting cultural identities and nationalities are at the forefront of challenging social and political debate. Omar Pimienta’s Welcome to Colonia Libertad  is a participatory art piece that replicates the bureaucratic practice of acquiring passports. Pimienta sets up ‘mobile consulates’ where he exchanges a visitor’s expired passport and trades it for an artistic faux passport together with their new photograph and fingerprints,giving them access to his Tijuana neighborhood of Colonia Liberdad.  Teresita de la Torre’s 365 Days in an Immigrant’s Shirt  pays homages to undocumented migrants by wearing a plaid shirt everyday for a year – a shirt she discovered while volunteering for an organization that leaves jugs of drinking water in the desert for migrants trying to cross the border. Her process is documented in photographs and a sketchbook from her daily postings.
Claudia Cano uses public performance by dressing up as a house-keeper/cleaning lady named Rosa Hernandez.  Clad in a pink maid’s uniform, apron and wig, Cano sweeps public spaces including a park, museum and adjacent to the border wall, demonstrating through photographs her invisibility to oblivious onlookers, and highlighting the importance of immigrant workers to our economy. Ana Teresa Fernandez’s video projection Borrando la Frontera shows the artist in a cocktail dress and high heels , climbing ladders as she attempts to paint the border fence in Playa de Tijuana a light powder blue creating an illusion of a disappearing border fence. Dominic Paul Miller created a trans-border community partnership with Tijuana’s labor rights group Ollin Calli. Using grant funds, Miller paid workers from Mexican maquiladoras to collaborate with him on his art project - a social engagement between factory labor and production, the result creating a series individual drawings. There is also a wall in the gallery where Miller documents the specific backgrounds of his Mexican participants, revealing the personal identity of his collaborators. Marcos Ramirez Erre installed a site specific piece by erecting a metal façade on the outside of the museum mimicking the border fence. This worthy and engaging exhibition tackles contentious topics in visually and intellectually stimulating ways. Several associated events are planned and can be accessed online at:
Claudia Cano Rosa Hernandez. La Chacha (The Cleaning Lady) photograph
Teresita de la Torre   365 Days in an Immigrant's Shirt   photograph

Friday, August 11, 2017

Visual Tribute to Our Fragile Planet - Global Photographer Sebastiao Salgado Helps Us See

Sabastiao Salgado
Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego
(through September 30th)

article by Cathy Breslaw
Sebastiao Salgado       South Sandwich Islands   2009     Chinstrap Penguins (Pygoscelis antarctica)
on an iceberg located between Zavodovski and Visokoi islands

Brazilian photographer Sabastiao Salgado’s work sits in a space between art, documentary and photo-journalism.  His first career and study for a PhD in Economics was followed by the light evoked from childhood memories of riding horses across land on his parent’s farm in the rainforests of Brazil. It is there that the inspiration for his photography practice was generated. His 200 plus collection of black and white medium to large format photographs exhibited at the Museum of Photographic Arts focus on nature and the environment . His images were shot over several years and on many locations around the globe.  From the Brazilian rainforests to the Siberian arctic northern regions on earth, Salgado tracks nomadic tribes, sea and land animals as they live and migrate, to sea and landscapes in their pristine beauty. His aim for Genesis was to investigate air, water and fire – the elements of earth’s beginnings and to bring to our awareness it’s stark and unblemished mark on our humanity. Sometimes shot from hot air balloons so as to not disturb wildlife, Salgado captured hundreds of penguins and reindeer as they migrated, communities of seals quietly lying on rocks, whales poking out of the sea, endangered families of birds flying overhead, and gorillas, elephants and hippos as they performed their daily routines. Salgado traveled to over 100 countries to photograph raw, real events.  In doing so, his images are poetic and beautifully composed, leaving the viewer to feel as if we are in on a secret, capturing people, places and animals in private and revealing moments in time. In the northern arctic regions of Russia, we catch a glimpse of the nomadic Nenets tribe as they appear frozen in snow in their hand-hewn fur jackets and hats traveling across ice with reindeer to the Zo’e tribe in the Brazilian rainforest.  Salgado’s images are a direct documentation of indigenous communities that remain untouched, and serve as examples of our earliest forms of human settlements. Salgado’s classic and realistic photographs sometimes encompass big views of landscapes and seascapes to more intimate images of animals and people.  The result is a rediscovery of our planet and the awareness of its’ preciousness - and the responsibility that we as humans have as guardians of our earth.
Sabastiao Salgado   Marine Iguana  (Amblyrhynchus Cristatus)   Galapagos.Ecuador.2004

Southern Right Whales(Eubalaena australis) drawn to the Valdes Peninsula
because of the shelter provided by its two gulfs, The Golfo San Jose and the Golfo Nuevo,
whales often navigate with their tails upright in the water.  Valdes Peninsula, Argentina 2004

Sebastiao Salgado    Teureum, Sikeirei and leader of the Mentawai Clan
This shaman is preparing a filter for sago, with the leaves of this sago tree.
Siberut Island, West Sumatra, Indonesia   2008

Sebastiao Salgado   Women in the Zo'e village of Towari Ypy
use the "urucum"(Bixa Orellana) red fruit to color their bodies.
Para State. Brazil.  2009

Monday, July 17, 2017

Classic American Playgrounds and Skies Seen Through the Lens of Brenda Biondo

Brenda Biondo: Play
San Diego Museum of Art
Gallery 15: Mrs. Thomas J Fleming Sr. Foyer
Through January 7th, 2018

Article by Cathy Breslaw
Brenda Biondo, Burlington, CO, 2009. Color photograph. Image courtesy of the artist. 

Colorado photographer Brenda Biondo’s constructed abstractions and playground images fill the Mrs. Thomas J Fleming Sr. foyer of the museum with a combination of fascination and nostalgia.  The Paper Skies series are a group of formal minimalist abstractions which at first glance resemble paintings.  However, they are printed photographs created as the result of paper being cut, folded and then re-photographed against the sky. Biondo begins by photographing the sky at different times of day. She then prints out the desired photographs, manipulates them, and then re-photographs the shaped photographs against a sky. The photos are then printed onto thin aluminum using a dye sublimation process, lending a slight metallic sheen and a polished quality to the surfaces.  This series also reveals atmospheric color as well as noting the ambiguity of the real versus the reproduced. These images brings to mind modernist painters like Frank Stella and Ellsworth Kelly who used geometry in rather simple and straightforward ways but are also visually compelling images.

Biondo’s second body of work comprises 15 photographs depicting the evolution and obsolescence of the traditional American playground.  Her photos unearth memories of early and mid century playgrounds made of mostly metal and materials no longer used in contemporary play structures. To prepare for her photographic series, Biondo researched vintage catalogs and historic photos from the 1920’s to the 1970’s including classic seesaws, slides, spinners and whimsical animal jungle gyms. Her photographs using iconic American symbols like rocket ships, and lunar landers were popular because of space exploration  during the 1960’s, while other photographs depict structures from the 1950’s when cartoon characters, cowboys and Indians, Cinderella and other pop culture references were widely used. Her photographs allow us to revisit icons of childhoods past as well as documenting their place in American culture. Biondo’s playground photographs share similar geometric and minimalist compositions with the paper skies series and the use of light in an atmospheric way.
Brenda Biondo, Paper Sky 7, 2013-16. Dye sublimation on aluminum. Image courtesy of the artist.    

Brenda Biondo, Paper Sky 27, 2013-16. Dye sublimation on aluminum. Image courtesy of the artist.

Brenda Biondo, Colorado Springs, CO, 2006. Color photograph. Image courtesy of the artist.

Brenda Biondo, Hudson, CO, 2011. Color photograph. Image courtesy of the artist