The directors of East Los Angeles' ChimMaya Gallery, in an adventurous bid to expand their exhibition vision, have inaugurated a new space dubbed "The Beverly Project."
It's an auspicious and energetic debut.
The new exhibit, titled "Out and Out: living and loving, an exhibition of affirmative identity," features the works of twenty-three artists from the Latino Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Transgender community. The exhibit's premise embraces an impressive roster of talent ‘«Ű with equally varied expressions of identity, desire, pain and affirmation.
You can't help but be reminded of the recent firestorm to remove the late gay artist David Wojnarowicz's controversial art work from the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery exhibition exhibit "Hide/Seek‘«™" The resulting national debate reignited issues of artistic censorship and discrimination. "Out and Out..." offers evidence that the creative impulse is alive and well with artists continuing to forge personal aesthetic territory. To be sure, there are political and erotic elements in the exhibit, yet "Out and Out‘«™" presents a nuanced view of the Latino LGBT community - and it's an uplifting perspective.
Over sixty works are installed salon format which, in the modestly scaled gallery, can be a bit daunting. But the sheer exuberance of the space quickly negates that impression. Techniques span the gamut with figurative imagery dominating; painting, drawing, prints and photography are all here - beauty abounds and there seems something for everyone.
Highlights include Joey Terrill's painting, "My mother's maiden name - New York, 1980," a poignant self-portrait with the artist lingering on a New York City street, the scrawled "Mendoza" on a wall offering an emotional touchstone. There is no inkling of the dark reality of AIDS to follow. Raul Pizarro's "Tomorrow's Harrowing Altar" is both beautiful homage to the male form and meditation on what may have been. Magda Audifred offers us a vivid and lyrical abstract picture in "Sailing." I'm not much of a sailor ‘«Ű but this mixed media rendition tempts me to give it another try.
Hector Silva's masterful pencil drawings depict portraits of family and muscular homeboys as idealist icons and, in "Big Bro," uncompromising, erotic temptations. Photography is represented in Angela Maria Ortiz's suite of exuberant gay pride parade images.
I nearly missed the tiny oil painting, "Minnie with Diamond" by Jennifer Olvera, with its charming portrayal of mistress and companion. And Lalo Ugalde's moody, blue-hued "Rebel" captures a pensive Latino youth on the verge of maturity in an uncertain time.
The significance of mounting this exhibit in a largely Latino East Los Angeles can't be understated and it's a testament to the directors' commitment to their vision. The area's cultural resources are few and far between and the nascent gallery is clearly in the vanguard. Amongst other projects, a local art fair is in the early planning stages.
The Beverly Project's "Out and Out..."exhibit is a decisive and encouraging entry to the Eastside's cultural landscape and long overdue.