Sunday, February 14, 2010

AMBIVALENCE: A Photo Exhibition

Liz Vega

Last Thursday, February 4th, I read in the Downey Patriot that there was going to be a photo exhibit by two local Latino artists. Being the good patron of the arts I pride myself on being, I decided to attend and represent. I conveniently dragged myself from my family bed-time routine and left my good husband to continue putting our two daughters to bed and headed out to the Downey Theater.

The photo exhibit was being held at a beautiful historic theatre from the 1970's. I figured, it was a nice chance to see the building and promised my husband I would be gone for 30 minutes tops. Imagine my surprise when I couldn't even find parking and had to go around the back to secure a spot. As I steppped out of my mini-van (I know, I know) I started seeing crowds of hipsters, cool young people heading to the theater, I could hear the bass of some soulful funk playing and thought: "I can't believe I'm in Downey" and "I can't believe I'm wearing sweats (granted they did have fancy rhinestones on the side). Why did I come by myself?." I was feeling so inadequate yet exhilirated that such nightlife can exist five minutes from my house. Before this, I had thought Downey was an industrial town with plenty of mortuaries and tons of escrow places and while I prized its accesibility to downtown L.A., Long Beach and the OC, I hate the fact that there isn't more than one bookstore (no offense to Christian bookstores, there are more than a handful of those).

The one-night event showcased the works of Gabriel Enamorado, known as GabeOne and Valentin Flores.  Both of the artists were raised and schooled in Downey. The exhibit was aptly titled:  Ambivalence as it was a perfect union of the artists' contrasting styles. Flores is a photo journalist who focuses on candid shots and beautiful landscapes of urban and country settings as well as of the local people he's met through his travels.  GabeOne's work showed his penchant for shooting urban, industrial and sometimes set-up scenarios.  His work reminded me of his tocayo, Gabriel Orozco, who currently has a retrospective at MoMA.  However, unlike Orozco's work, GabeOne does not seek to disappoint but rather to inspire with urban grittiness.

The close to 800 of us who were in attendance were injected with energy by the sounds of Las Vegas DJ Dren, a fun photo booth for those adventurous enough to go pose, and a silent auction.   After admiring the photos up for auction  I spent a big chunk of time hanging out by the yummy food and drinks provided by local Downey restaurants.  

I wish I could have stayed until midnight when the event was set to end and had I had my arty glasses I definitely may have.  Needless to say, I did leave much later than intended but not without scoring a delicious box of Baklava from a young guy (Ramsey!) who was so impressed with my extensive  knowledge of Greek and Turkish Baklava. 

This incredible free night was sponsored by Downey Art Vibe, in association with the Downey Scene, which is a cultural programming initiative of the city of Downey.  The organization was founded in 2007 by a group of returning locals and seeks to encourage the creativity of contemporary artists and provide an area for exhibitions and related educational programs. Kudos on a job well done!

To learn more about the artists:

To learn more about Downey Art Vibe you can visit their website where you will also be able to see more pictures from the event:
or become a fan on Facebook:

This is a picture from GabeOne's blog.  Gabeone is on the left and Valentin Flores is on the right.

I for one can't wait until the next Downey Art Vibe event where I will be looking much cooler.  I hope to bump into some of you.

Al rato, Liz

In honor of St. Valentine and to make it 4 for 4 days of poetry on La Bloga, I share with you a poem I wrote after a heartbreak of my youth.


of his waves
echo approaching
rapidly the white stretch
of soft sand. An explosion of
froth and fury. Awakening the
shoulders of stone. The sea comes
insnarls of spray, engulfing the outer
layer of bone, blinding her silent core of


-ness with the wetness of
a salty stroke, erupting
against the run-down pier,
the barren cliffs and
the brittle shells, he switches the                      direction
of his oscillating waves,
burrying an oyster behind
-lying on the misty shore-
The swift currents whisper to
a mournful, silky moon glistening
over the ripples of the sea, against the


-ness of the dark hard sand.  In the
distance the warm breath of dawn
dances on ringless fingers.
They caress a purple
pearl that swirls in
an infinity of


msedano said...

ain't it grand we escape, or grow out of, youthful heartbreak, thus to enjoy perpetual Valentine Day joy? And topping it off, cultura de Downey en Downey. Adelante Downey Art Vibe, here's to many a great evening!


Olga Garcia Echeverria said...

Thanks Liz! Enjoyed reading about Downey Art Vibe. Great fotos and Viva La Poesia de Liz!

Joanne said...

Hi Liz! Thanks for such a positive review of Ambivalence! We really value the feedback of people who attended the event, and thanks to people like you, we were all able to prove that the arts & culture scene is truly for every demographic in Downey! See you at our next event!