FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

LEAVING AZTLAN (redux)
February 25 – April 9, 2006
Opening Reception Saturday, February 25, 6-8pm


ARENA 1  A project of Santa Monica Art Studios  
3026 Airport Avenue, Santa Monica, CA. 90405
Directors: Sherry Frumkin and Yossi Govrin
(310) 397-7456, fax (310) 397-7459
E-mail, sherry@santamonicaartstudios.com
Web site, http://www.santamonicaartstudios.com

Gallery Hours: Wednesday – Saturday,  12 - 6 pm



“Leaving Aztlan (redux)” artists:
Jesse Amado
Connie Arismendi
Javier Carmona
Alex Donis
Christina Fernandez
Carlos Frésquez
Diana Guerrero-Maciá
Salomon Huerta
Chuck Ramirez
Rubén Ortiz Torres
Curated by Kaytie Johnson

ARENA 1 is pleased to announce Leaving Aztlan (redux), a group exhibition curated by Kaytie Johnson opening February 25th through April 9th, 2006. The exhibition opens with a reception for the artists on Saturday, February 25th from 6 – 8 pm.

Leaving Aztlán presents the work of contemporary U.S. artists who, by engaging a wide range of artistic practices, forms and strategies, produce work that challenges stereotypical perceptions of Chicana/o and Latina/o art as a homogenous “style” defined solely in culturally specific terms. The artists in this exhibition use culturally ambiguous formal and conceptual strategies that defy one-dimensional readings, and situate their work not within the confines and constructs of an ethnically based visual ghetto, but within the larger, global context of contemporary art.


These artists do not completely divorce themselves from the visual legacy created by Latina/o and Chicana/o artists from previous generations. Instead, they produce work that signals a significant paradigmatic shift in that it resists a culturally essentialist reading. They accomplish this through the use of hybridity as a formal and conceptual strategy; by adopting formal approaches and subject matter that thwart attempts to align their work with a specific ethnicity; and by appropriating forms and aspects of both “high” and popular culture in order to challenge cultural and aesthetic hierarchies.

The post-identity practitioners represented in this exhibition create work that represents the wide range of expression found in the Latina/o Chicana/o Diaspora. This generation of artists is mapping out new and important terrain through work that forces us to question, more than ever before, what it means to label work as “Chicana/o” or “Latina/o” art, as well as what constitutes the relationship between ethnicity and artistic production.

The exhibition is a version of an exhibition curated by Kaytie Johnson in January 2005 for the Center for Visual Art in Denver, Colorado: therefore the (redux) added to the title. In this updated version of the exhibition, Johnson has invited two well-known California artists to participate (Salomon Huerta and Christina Fernandez).

Jesse Amado and Diana Guerrero-Maciá engage the tradition of concrete poetry in works that are informed by the physical properties of language. Connie Arismendi’s installations are formally spare yet sensual repositories of longing and loss. Alex Donis’s provocative, homoerotically charged images of LAPD officers dancing with gang members are unsettling rather than romantically fictionalized portraits. Javier Carmona’s black and white photographs engage aspects of cinema through carefully crafted mise en scènes that transform fictionalized images into poor man’s cinema. Carlos Frésquez creates ironic, irreverent images that challenge elitist notions of taste by engaging in a form of historic and cultural intervention in which popular culture, Dadaist strategies and appropriation converge. Sly humor informs Rubén Ortiz Torres’s works where idolized athletes and cheesy sports mascots are morphed into one another in cunning references to miscegenation and cultural exchange.

Behind Chuck Ramirez’s sparely composed photographs is a sophisticated formalist language and a personally informed critical conceptuality that takes nuanced jabs at cultural essentialism by exposing his own mixed emotions about homogeneous perceptions of identity. Christina Fernandez has long been interested in exploring personal, cultural, and social issues within a historical and political framework, using the medium of photography filtered through the lens of personal and familial history, archetype, and myth, to address cultural borders and historical relationships within Southern California. Salomon Huerta reinvents conventional elements of Pop art, Color Field painting, and portraiture and by eliminating his subjects - facial features, their cultural origins and other attributes, he creates a vacuum that viewers are compelled to fill with their own perceptions, biases, and experiences.

Kaytie Johnson is Director and Curator of University Galleries, Museums and Collections at DePauw University in Indiana.

ARENA 1 is an exhibition space founded by Santa Monica Art Studios directors Yossi Govrin and Sherry Frumkin. Based in an historic hangar at the Santa Monica Airport, ARENA 1 invites newly established as well as internationally known curators to develop innovative and compelling exhibitions.



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