An End to the Era of Vapid Meaningless Chicano-esque

"Desde Las Orillas": The art exhibition of the Summer and seasons to come extended to October 14

By Leonor De Fuentes
Published on LatinoLA: October 3, 2012

An End to the Era of Vapid Meaningless Chicano-esque

I'd seen the post for Desde Las Orillas" art exhibition at LELA Gallery in Little Tokyo on LatinoLA calender section and was intrigued by the title and its description (From The Edges).

I planned attending the opening but for some reason I couldn't make it. Finally I had the opportunity to go to the closing. I had to attend and see this show! Especially after reading Chicana artist Margaret Garcia's comment on the artists exhibiting in the show , "The five artists, Los Cinco Puntos (artists Fernando Barragan, Jimmy Centeno, Raul Herrera, Yesenia Zertuche, and Micheal Rascon) form a next generation of Chicano artists that are anchored in social consciousness and have the ability to effectively translate that into well conceived works that are also beautiful to behold. Hopefully it marks an end to the era of vapid meaningless Chicano-esque."

This was more then enough for a Chicana art lover to go and see what is all this about. The closing was a spectacular show. muralist Ernesto de La Loza was present and so was Chicana artist Margaret Garcia.

Aztec dancers and drums beat so strong and heartfelt that the entrance to the gallery was tightly packed by people from all walks of life. Talented musician/guitarist Kris Escajeda performed at the closing reception with fabulous music.Traditional food was served, green sauce chilaquiles con crema y cebolla, taquitos, salsa de molcajete, frijoles negros, queso fresco, tequila, Japanese sake and sushi.

I must say that the gallery was a bit difficult to find. I had to weave around a couple of floors until I walked into a second floor store and happen to look around and sure enough there was the gallery.

The art exhibition consisted of abstract art with strong reds, yellows and blue hues, sculptures, photography, installations, paintings and paper collages. Most all artists used some type of found or recycled material in their art pieces.

The entrance lead to a section with abstract artworks by Micheal Rascon, Jimmy Centeno and Fernando Barragan. A metal sculpture by artist Micheal Rascon caught my attention, a flag made out of scrap metal titled The "Unsustainable States Of America." Given our times of economic hardship, of wasted taxpayers money in useless wars, Rascon's flag waved across my face reminding me if we don't do anything today to get the country back on its feet most definitely we will be living in an unsustainable country, to which for thousand of people that already is a reality. Rascon's Flag continues to wave across my thoughts one week after viewing the art show.

I continued along the gallery and walked up to Yessenia Zertuche's oil paintings. Her oil paintings were intimate, soft and strong, intense and passionate. One oil painting of a couple in the making of a kiss was done in soft blue hues, yet despite the blue tones it spoke as if it had been painted in red. Her short and long thin brush strokes intensified the coming of these lovers reach towards one another.

Next to Zertuche's paintings were Fernando Barragan's wood burns. At first I thought they were pencil sketches on wood, but as I came closer, they were made out of found particle wood drawn with a hot tool of some sort. Barragan's wood burns are narratives that speak of local stories, people, and familiar L.A landscapes. All his wood burns had depth, making each piece of art unique in style.

I stood their looking at all the intricate details in his work, when there came a young man escorted by a friend directly to the wood burns. The friend lifted the young man's hand and pressed it up against the wood. Wow, Oh my god, the deep incisions made by Fernando Barragan served this young man, who could not see, to experience the art work and read the figures burnt into the wood. Barragan's work on wood, conscious or not, extends not just to those who can see but to those who for some unfortunate reason have lost the ability to see. Barragan's large scale paintings are figurative kaleidoscopes that with each step one takes away or towards the painting the colors enhance, glow, or move.

A large island set in the center of the gallery displayed a large metal sculpture/installation titled "La Cama del Inmigrante: Dreaming Between Fences" by Jimmy Centeno. It was an actual size bed with a foot and headboard all made out of chain link fence welded together out of found objects! Incredible piece of work I thought. I walked around the bed absorbing all the personal items hanging on the chain link fence, such as keys, pictures, ribbons, love notes, baby shoes, rosaries, and La Virgen de Guadalupe and could not help feeling nostalgia for all those who are forced to leave their homes, pueblos,and families in search of work. "Dreaming Between Fences" took me back to the many stories told by Mexican immigrants and Central America refugees during the eighties and nineties. Many were heartbreaking. Jimmy Centeno's sculptures are testaments to his political and social sensitivity deeply rooted in social justice.

What followed were Raul Herrera's photography. His digital imagery of Aztlan rising amongst a polluted world is a desperate call for action. Herrera's photography takes into consideration his ancestral roots as a source of inspiration and guidance to a more peaceful and collective way of life without tension and destruction. His Danza Azteca performance opened up the closing reception, it was a call for the four winds to aid, bless and assist us all in creating a world were many worlds can all coexist.

"Desde La Otra Orilla" has been the best summer art exhibition I have seen. I congratulate the artists: Fernando Barragan, Micheal Rascon, Yesenia Zertuche, Raul Herrera and Jimmy Centeno, who is the curator of the exhibition.

For those who missed "Desde La Otra Orilla", good news! The exhibition has been extended. It will end October the 14th.

LELA Gallery is located at 333. S. Alameda St. in Little Tokyo Galeria second floor.

Gallery hours are Wednesday to Sunday 1:00pm to 6:30pm.

Contact information 323 440-0569

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Leonor De Fuentes

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