Friday, February 03, 2012

Bits & Pieces On A Winter Friday

La Bloga-Friday columnist Melinda Palacio is taking the day off owing to an exhausting two-day sitting with noted portratist Margaret Garcia. Ms. Garcia has accepted Tia Chucha Press’ commission to paint Melinda’s portrait for the cover of Palacio’s upcoming poetry collection from Tia Chucha Press. Melinda, via Denise Chavez, sends along news of Librotraficantes infiltrating Arizona with banned books.

Librotraficantes Caravan Coming To Mesilla

Because Latino Studies has been banned in Arizona, writers and activists are organizing a caravan to Tucson to smuggle banned Latino books back into Arizona! Librotraficante Banned Book Bash Caravan will be filled with authors and activists bringing banned books back into Arizona, to give away. The bus will be filled with authors who were banned, new authors, as well as other advocates concerned with preserving First Amendment rights of Equal Protection and Freedom of Speech.

Librotraficantes Banned Book Caravan leaves Houston Monday, March 12. Librotraficantes Banned Book Caravan arrives in Tucson Saturday, March 17.

Librotraficantes Banned Book Caravan plans stops in Texas and New Mexico prior to infiltrating Arizona's lightly guarded Eastern border. Additional stops will be listed as they are finalized, and as funding permits. Donations can be given to Nuestra Palabra: Latino Writers Having Their Say by visiting the website

Librotraficante Tony Díaz, accompanied by various writers, holds a press conference and a Quick Lit Throw Down reading on Thursday, March 15 at ten a.m. at Cultural Center de Mesilla, home base of the Border Book Festival. The caravan heads to Albuquerque that evening for a Librotraficante Banned Book Bash at a location to be announced.

Among banned authors participating throughout the week will be Sandra Cisneros, Dagoberto Gilb, Luis Alberto Urrea.

For more information, contact the Border Book Festival at 575-523-3988,

Foto Essay: "In Wonderland: The Surrealist Adventures Of Women Artists In Mexico And The United States"

Michael Sedano

It’s as good as you think it’s going to be. That’s my final verdict on "In Wonderland: The Surrealist Adventures Of Women Artists In Mexico And The United States,” at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art until May 6, 2012. Not that the experience comes unflawed, but the art certainly comes together as a stunning, breath-taking show about women by women artists. 

LACMA’s publicity features a Frida Kahlo self-portrait, and the LA Times picked the same one to lead its online review. Kahlo draws ‘em in, so why not? If Frida brings visitors to LACMA to enjoy this fabulous excursion into art and ideas, lead with Frida. 

Everyone knows Frida Kahlo. But after a couple invigorating hours strolling the various galleries viewers emerge with an immensely enlarged knowledge and lasting visual memories of works and artists in gratifying depth beyond Frida. 

As LACMA’s p.r. notes, “Iconic figures such as Louise Bourgeois, Leonora Carrington, Frida Kahlo, Lee Miller, Kay Sage, Dorothea Tanning, and Remedios Varo are represented, along with lesser known or newly discovered practitioners.”

Among the many benefits of being retired from the world of work comes the leisure to attend this exhibition on a relatively quiet Thursday morning. Yet at the early hour and weekday, the luxury of spending time alone with a particular favorite rarely happened, with the crowd. I’m guessing the weekend will be packed, and crowd control will become an issue. That’s when the ropes will be necessary.

The Resnick is one huge space, providing 45,000 square feet. Designers have divided that into three long, narrow spaces. “Wonderland” hangs in the West wing. The space runs nearly the length of a football field, then turns back on itself about a third of the distance before exiting.

End to end, it’s a long walk and you're only 2/3 of the walk in. Make that doubly long if one elects to revisit a favorite piece. To form two long exhibition spaces, designers defined them using free-standing partitions set at acute angles that outline each room. The diagonals reflect the sharp peaks of the pavilion’s roofline, a nice touch.

Placement at these angles creates open space between partitions, but that generous space is blocked off by webs of thick sisal rope. Being generous, one could say the ropes resemble the incised lines of certain artworks on display, but more realistically the ropes are a huge flaw. For one thing, acrobatic rule breakers could roll underneath. LACMA realizes this and has stationed lots of uniformed guards nearby. 

This surrealist exhibition enriches one’s experience and broadens one’s knowledge. Lots of food for thought in the diversity of content, technique, presentation.

Go to LACMA at your earliest convenience, even if you have to suffer the weekend crowd. Parking’s $10 bucks. Admission to the show sets you back $22.00. Under 17 free.

Here Are Women

Happily, LACMA permits photography at this venue Sadly, so many people whip out their cameras and flash away. Flash illumination is anathema to preservation. Happily, the space is lighted sufficiently to grab a handful of images at ISO800 within 1/60 and 1/4 of a second at f/4, on a Canon T2i and 55-18mm IS lens. 

Click each image for a larger view, or visit the home gallery of these frames at  Read! Raza.

Las Dos Fridas dominates its room, given its magnificent size and popularity. Side-by-side are Leonora Carrington and Helen Lundeberg. Three giants. Frida's are the faces gente have come to see in person. She's one of dozens of delights. The exhibition rewards with so many women in disparate styles, the idealized, the horrific, the pixie doll, the romanticized, the photographed.

Helen Lundeberg. The Mountain. "Celotex" lends rich texture to the surface of this monumental painting.

Leonora Carrington. The Chrysopeia of Mary The Jewess. Carrington's representation in this show will bring her new popularity. Viewers who've seen only reproductions of Carrington's work will be astounded at the painter's vision.

Rosa Rolanda. Autorretrato. The curator's notes on the piece describe a US woman adopting Mexicana culture in the midst of divorcing her Mexicano. The curatorial commentary draws frequent remarks among visitors. Some overheard people remark on the fluffiness, others on the curator's need to explain excessively, especially obvious features. 

This is by by Frida Khalo. I did not get the title. The curators set this painting strategically removed from other Kahlo work. The visitor must turn around on entering the gallery to see this on the wall. There's a grand moment among visitors when they recognize the style, lean into the placard and confirm their recognition in the face of its restrained surreality. Then one notices that airplane.

Painting and drawing highlight the exhibition. The curators include numerous fotos including exhibition prints, solargrams, posterized and images manipulated the old-fashioned way, in the darkroom with light and chemistry.

A marked contrast from the liberation expressed in the art is the curatorial decision to force viewers to see the show in a highly ordered manner. Ropes impede one's election of a personalized viewing experience, leaving no question this is the curator's show and no one else's. After going through the exhbition once in the directed sequence, viewers must retrace their steps to revisit a particular painting or face, or peek through the ropes for a glimpse of a favorite piece so near and yet so far.

This room surprises and disappoints with that huge blank space. Placing this selection of small pieces--some two-up to save space?-- amid such emptiness gives the impression these are unimportant leftovers. The blank is a filled-in portal. Perhaps the wall is too weak to support one of these precious works? Still, the room has a desultory feel that, with the weird ropes, are the exhibition's only glaring flaws.

1 comment:

Francisco Aragón said...

Looks like a breathtaking exhibit.