Art Trip: PST: LA/LA | The Art Assignment | PBS Digital Studios


[MUSIC PLAYING] NARRATOR: Thank
you to LA Promise Fund for supporting this
episode of “The Art Assignment.” We’ve been to Los Angeles before
interviewing artists, hanging out in a geodesic dome, seeing
art at our favorite museums, eating ramen,
sitting in traffic. But this time, we’re back
with a specific focus in mind, not to see the LA
we already know, but to see the LA
we should know, the one that’s been
hiding in plain sight. The one that hasn’t
been hiding at all, in fact, but that
recent efforts have made much harder to overlook. We came straight from the
airport to the Craft and Folk Art Museum, whose facade
is the site of a project by LA-based artist Shrine. Inside, they’re
hosting an exhibition about the US-Mexico
border, and right away we see Armando Munoz
Garcia’s plaster model of the five-story
cement sculpture that he built and also lived
in in his Tijuana neighborhood. He constructed the figure to
commemorate the city’s 1989 centennial, her
raised pinky finger pointing out where you can
find it on a map of Mexico. The show includes the work of
artists from many disciplines, like industrial designer
Jorge Diego Etienne’s gunbarrel pencil holders
titled “Choose Your Bullets,” GT Pelliizzi and Ray Smith’s
collaborative painting made from earth and vegetation
from the border region, Viviana Paredes’ sculpture made
from recycled Petron tequila bottles, and Haydee Alonso’s
jewelry series, “Interacting,” which requires two people
to activate and relates to the border as a similar
point of connection between two cities. Upstairs are two
more floors of works that explore the border as a
physical reality, a subject, and also a site for
production and possibility. There’s Ana Serrano’s
“Cartonlandia,” mimicking in miniature
the rambling hilltop houses you can find in
many cities, including Tijuana and LA. There’s Adrian Esparza’s
deconstructed serape, whose threads have been
carefully unraveled and pinned to the wall in a
geometric design. There’s also Ronald Rael
and Virginia San Fratello’s project, “Border Wall as
Architecture, Proposals for Alternative and
Playful Approaches to Border Wall Design,”
presented through a series of prints and models. A teeter totter,
a xylophone wall. They’ve also made a
border wall board game. This exhibition is just one site
of a sprawling initiative led by the Getty Foundation called
Pacific Standard Time LA LA that is exploring
Latin American and Latinx art in dialogue with
Los Angeles and much of Southern California. In this show, fluidity between
geographies and cultures and economies is very
clearly on display, especially in the work of
“Cognate Collective,” led by Amy Sanchez and
Misael Diaz, who we were lucky to
have with us two tell us about their
work, the first of which is titled “Transborder
Trajectories,” or in Spanish– [SPEAKING SPANISH] And it’s a work that
we began in around 2010 when we were working inside
at a craft market that is located right at the crossing
between San Diego and Tijuana in the San Ysidro Port of Entry
in a market called [SPANISH].. They have these very
attractive, interesting objects that are sold there. But you’re told as a child
to never look at them, because if you do, then the
vendor is going to come over and try to aggressively
sell you this thing. And since you’re
moving so slowly, it’s going to just be a
very long awkward exchange. In “Transborder
Trajectories,” we try to map these flows and these
movements of these objects and how those flows
and movements speak to the kind of particularities
of economic and social and cultural exchanges that
are happening and taking place across the border. And with [SPANISH],,
with the reform project, we took it upon ourselves to
try to establish a dialogue with the people that
actually made these to begin to try to imagine what it
would mean to actually craft a souvenir of Tijuana as a city. And that took the form of a
television because Tijuana wasn’t till recently,
if not still is, the world capital of
television production. So there’s more
televisions manufactured in the city than anywhere
else in the world, and a lot of this
production is taking place in [SPANISH],, which
are large factories. And a lot of these
factories then start to shape how it is
that the city develops. It starts to shape
labor conditions also within the city, and a lot of
economics of just communities throughout the city. So we decided to think about
the subject of a television as an object that would
speak to those kinds of economic conditions, but
also to the fact that it is through television precisely
that a lot of these images and the filtering that begin
to shape what piggy banks are made and sold to tourists. NARRATOR: We said
goodbye to Amy and Misael and headed to Guisados,
where Jesus made us think the tacos might be free. They were in fact
about $3 a piece, but super delicious
and worth every penny. Right around the corner
is West Hollywood Park, where we came across
Jose Davilla’s work, “Sense of Place,” commissioned by
Los Angeles Nomadic Division. The Guadalajara-based artist’s
six ton concrete sculpture is comprised of 40
unique forms, which over the course of
nine months will be disassembled with pieces
migrating to different sites around the city and eventually
reassembled in May 2018. Right across the
street is Mocha Pacific Design Center, where you can see
one location of the exhibition “Access Mundo, Queer
Networks in Chicano, LA,” organized by One National
Gay and Lesbian Archives at the USC libraries. It begins by introducing us
to Mundo Meza, an artist who made large paintings
and window displays, collaborated with many,
and insanely doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page. The curators have
assembled and shared with us a trove of
artwork and ephemera that maps a network of
queer Chicano artists from the late 1960s to
the early ’90’s, including better known artists
like the group Asco, a selection of who’s “No
Movie Mail Art Postcards” are on display, full film
stills from non-existent movies, noting the absence of
Chicana representation in popular culture. Many of the artists were
affected by the AIDS crisis, and a number of them passed
away from related causes, including Ray Navarro,
who had his friend Zoe Leonard fabricate
this work for him during the last
months of his life. Blind and deaf from
AIDS-related meningitis, Navarro paired photos of the
devices he used to get around with sexually suggestive
signs in the style of those used in hospitals. Here we see a
collision of movements. Chicano civil rights,
gay liberation, feminism, AIDS activism, and how they
unfolded through art, fashion, print media, and punk
all between friends and collaborators here in LA. Then we journeyed up a
hilltop in Santa Monica to enter another dimension,
or what is popularly known as the Getty Center,
the majestic travertine-clad Richard Meier
design complex that is hosting not one, but
four exhibitions for Pacific Standard Time LA LA. Each is impressive, but we
can’t show you all of them, so why don’t we just objectively
focus on my personal favorite? “Making Art
Concrete” is a window into the strategies and
materials of artists associated with the concrete
art movement that evolved in Argentina and
Brazil from the mid-1940s to the early ’60s. Artists whose work you
see here consciously rejected the ubiquitous
rectangular frame, thinking it a division between
art and everything around it, and creating irregularly cut
panels and single planes that sit just off the wall. They also experimented with
commercial and industrial paints, and materials,
and techniques, trying to minimize the
presence of their own hands and create something so
geometric and so precise that it forms its
own concrete reality. And we couldn’t
go up to the Getty and not take a stroll around
the Robert Irwin designed Central Garden, whose path
switched us back and forth past fantastical
bougainvillea arbors to a pool with a floating maze of azaleas. You also can’t leave without
appreciating the view looking out over the west side of
LA, and getting your head around what would be a painful
commute to our hotel downtown. We started our next day at
the Central Library Downtown, a splendid 1927 art deco
building whose rotunda we had to ourselves for a
few minutes before opening. There is much to take in,
the original bronze zodiac chandelier, the
decorative motifs painted on the concrete walls, and a
mural cycle on the upper walls by Dean Cornwell depicting
scenes from California history. But the 1930s murals
showing a largely one-sided whitewashed
tale of colonialism pale literally and figuratively
next to a new installation by Artists Collective
Tlacolulokos. It’s part of an exhibition
and programs celebrating the Zapotec language, the
most widely spoken indigenous language in Mexico’s
southern state of Oaxaca, where the artists are from. There’s a large Oaxacan
population in LA, and much cultural exchange
between the two places, which is presented to us through
the characters that populate this vivid installation. It’s a contemporary
history that shows the complexity of cultural
identity, told by artists attuned to its nuances
and contingencies. It’s scheduled to come
down early next year, but it really should stay. From there, it was a short
drive to Los Angeles Plaza Park, where the city was
founded, and which served as the center of the
city under Spanish, Mexican, and then US rule. Community altars
were being set up for a Dia de Los Muertos,
or Day of the Dead Festival, held by the Olvera Street
merchants and El Pueblo Historical Monument. Nearby is LA Plaza
de Cultura y Artists, a center that celebrates the
enduring and evolving influence of Mexican and Mexican-american
culture in the region. They do this year round through
programming and exhibits, one of which is their
current show associated with Pacific Standard
Time, “Murales Rebeldes, LA Chicana and Chicano
Murals Under Siege,” made in collaboration with the
California Historical Society. Rigorously researched,
the exhibition shares the sketches and
source photos and stories behind Chicana and
Chicano murals produced in the LA area between
the ’70s and the ’90s that all have been
contested, challenged, censored, or destroyed. Here you can see the Polaroid
of Barbara Carrasco’s sister, upon which she based the central
character of her 1981 mural and learn about how it was
commissioned and approved by the city’s community
redevelopment agency, but was canceled before
it could be exhibited because along with
positive images, it included depictions of
negative incidents experienced by communities of color. You can, and I did, spend a
long time poring over each case study and gain a
renewed appreciation for the deep research and
commitment behind each of these murals, and
also a renewed disgust for the way many of them were
disrespected and destroyed. On a bright note,
Carrasco’s mural was recently installed for a
stint in LA’s Union Station, and hopefully will find a
more permanent public home in short order. We refueled at Sonora
Town, a tiny spot serving Northern Mexican style
tacos made with fresh flour tortillas. I could have eaten
12, but that would have compromised our
ability to continue onto our next stop, the brand
new Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. Here we took in their fantastic
Martin Ramirez exhibition, the first solo presentation
of his work in Southern California, despite his
self-taught artist acclaim and his having lived in
the state from the 1920s till his death in 1962. Mexican-born Ramirez was
diagnosed with schizophrenia and spent most of his
life in state hospitals, where he produced a huge body
of work, drawings and collages made with found paper,
and pencil, crayon, and matchsticks, grouped to
demonstrate the kinds of mark making and pattern
and iconography that he visited again and
again through his work. In the ICA LA shop, Christina
Kim and Dosa Mercantile have created an utterly
beautiful and immersive retail space where the
environment and clothing and products are inspired by
the color palette and textures of Ramirez’s work. Next, we entered a
completely different kind of immersive experience at the
Geffen Contemporary at MOCA. For your reference,
this warehouse space has looked like this and
like this for previous shows. But for Argentine artist Adrian
Villar Rojas’ installation, “The Theater of
Disappearance,” it has been darkened
and transformed, and it takes your eyes and
your camera a while to adjust. In this landscape he’s
created, I’m not sure if I’m in the past, the
future, or some kind of alternate present,
but I navigate around boulders and columns
made up of layers of concrete and synthetic
amber, and encounter brightly lit refrigerated cases. Within these, you see carefully
composed still lifes of things organic and inorganic, slowly
decomposing meat and vases in one, internal
organs, and fish, and branches, and
shells, and another. These displays are at once
revolting and spellbinding, blurring the distinction between
living and non-living, manmade, and natural. What’s the difference
between an old tennis shoe, and a giant crab
shell, or a human skull? We’re all just a bunch of
slowly decomposing matter, and all roads lead
but to the grave. So as we mentioned, our
trip coincided with Day Of the Dead celebrations
and events around the city. Self Help Graphics and Art has
been organizing their East LA Dia de Los Muertos
public ritual since 1972. And their current exhibition
features three newly commissioned ofrendas,
representing past, present, and future and
chronicles the evolution of Self Help’s commemoration
over the decades through prints,
objects, and ephemera. Each year, Self Help produces
a commemorative limited edition print, which you
see on display here, including this one from
2014 by Luis Genaro Garcia. Luis is a talented artist
and generous educator, whom we decided to track
down, and met up with him at South Park in South
Central Los Angeles, very close to where he grew up. He’s an art teacher at his alma
mater, Thomas Jefferson High School. And today, he’s
setting up an ofrenda at the Day of the Dead Festival
sponsored by Council District Nine, to which his students will
later be contributing shoe box altars they’ve made. We asked him if he might
give us a kind of map for how we might think
about the celebration, and the traditions and
histories he’s engaging with. I – think there’s a
misconception that Dia de los Muertos is related to death
worshipping, and it’s not. Right? It’s really again a
historical tradition that has developed
from two cultures, and it’s honoring the
dead, because it’s through the knowledge
of our ancestors that we maintain our
own history, right, and we develop who we
are and who we are now. By knowing our past, although
people are no longer with us, that does not mean we can’t
celebrate and appreciate their lives. Right? You know, we live with
that understanding that on Dia de los Muertos,
which is November 2, the spirits come
back for one day to be amongst us in
the living world. And so we need to take
advantage of that one day and set up their altars. They need to see themselves
with the favorite thing that they like doing. And really, it’s a time for
family to rejoice that life, and it’s a time to celebrate. It’s not really a time to mourn. We mourn when people pass on. But we need to heal ourselves
by celebrating their lives. NARRATOR: The next morning,
before the museums opened, we took a walk around
Echo Park and contemplated all of the Pacific
Standard Time LA LA shows and events that we were
not going to have time to see. There are offerings in Pasadena,
and Pomona, and Palm Springs, and Torrance, and San
Diego, not to mention all the associated public
programs, and workshops, and educator resources. This is a city where,
because of traffic, it’s hard to get to more
than a couple places a day. But then I realized that’s
exactly why this initiative has to be so widespread. You don’t have to get
yourself to everything. But with this
scattershot method, there’s a greater chance one
of these shows will get to you. I’m gonna densely compact
our final day because there’s no way I can do justice to
the breadth of scholarship, and expertise,
and craftsmanship, and accomplishment
that we witnessed. We traversed the New Public
Artwork by Venezuelan artist Carlos Cruz-Diez’ vibrantly
painted cross-walk designs at the intersection of Grand
Avenue and West Second Street. At Mocha Grand Avenue
just down the street, we reveled in the cleverness
and tactile pleasure of Brazilian artist Ana Maria
Maolino’s diverse artworks in her first major US
museum retrospective. At Little Damage, we stopped
for soft serve, one of which was gray, but tasted
like pumpkin pie, and another that had eyes. We ventured back
to the West Side and spent hours within
the Hammer Museum’s landmark exhibition, “Radical
Women, Latin American Art from 1960 to 1985.” It floored me with
the volume and depth of what it had to share about
artists whose work has long been under acknowledged
and insufficiently praised. We scooted back downtown
and dropped by Self Help again to peek at
their afternoon community art workshops. Preparations were well
underway for Noche de Ofrenda, which kicks off the downtown
Dia de Los Muertos observance. Local artists and community
members and volunteers gather here to fold paper
flowers, paint masks, and build and paint
paper mache constructions for that evening’s event and the
ongoing festival that follows. Self Help Graphics
and Art co-presents this downtown observance
with Grand Park, where we ended our day. It’s here that we see
the remarkable output of that afternoon’s
workshop, synthesized into his stunning ofrenda,
along with many others made by individuals
and community groups, honoring and evoking memories
of those who have passed. The event also featured
a ceremonial invocation, led by the local
indigenous community, along with traditional dance and
prayer, and later performances by LA based poets and musicians. It seems appropriate
that we end our trip with an event that is
not at all associated with Pacific Standard Time. What we’re experiencing
here happens annually. The locations and artists and
participants might change, but what we’re
witnessing is a tradition that has been and will
continue to be an integral part of the culture of Los Angeles. I guess the one difference
is that we’re here. Pacific Standard Time
didn’t produce this event, but it led me here
and encouraged me to follow a
trail to experiences I’d likely have missed. Because Pacific
Standard Time LA LA doesn’t really change anything. It’s highlighting
artists and movements and histories and traditions
that were already there, many of which are already
acknowledged and respected, at least in other places
or at other times. But Latin American
and Latinx art had been largely overlooked
here by much of the population and by many of
the establishments currently hosting
exhibitions and events. Over 40% of the population
of LA county is Latinx, and it’s undeniable that
the economy and culture here is very much informed by
the exchange between the US and Latin America. It would be absurd if the
cultural institutions didn’t reflect this and
reflect upon it. There are no guarantees
this attention will persist. And it’s impossible,
really, to gauge the impact of an initiative like this one. Perhaps some of these places
will offer wall text in Spanish for every exhibition
going forward, a rational decision since
over 40% of the population speaks Spanish. Perhaps, having seen
your culture represented in such a prominent
way, you’ll be more likely to tell
your own stories and present and
promote your own work. Perhaps you’ll be more
likely to seek out Latin American and Latinx
art when it is on offer, or maybe you’ll write
a paper about someone you saw represented here,
or create a Wikipedia page for Mundo Meza. Maybe you’ll think about
the voices and histories not represented in your
town, and maybe you’ll do something about it. Thank you to LA Promise Fund
for supporting this episode of “The Art Assignment.” LA Promise Fund helps
students across LA County through its portfolio
of educational programs, including their
Arts Matter Program. With lead support from
the Getty Foundation and additional support from
Sony Pictures Entertainment, the LA Promise Fund worked
with LA Unified School District to present the Pacific Standard
Time LA LA Education program, offering arts integration
workshops for teachers, sponsoring field trips,
classroom art making grants, and a county wide
student arts contest. [MUSIC PLAYING]

40 comments

  • Nabeeha

    I genuinely love this channel! It difficult to find art channels that share the passion of art like you do. I absolutely love this video! Thank you so much for such phenomenal content.

    Reply
  • Art About Art

    Your videos teach me so much about art and artists. Where do you find all these wonderful artists and what inspires your wonderful videos?

    Reply
  • SciJoy

    I love these journeys. I can't imagine how much amazing footage wasn't able to make it in.

    Reply
  • Xenolilly

    A journey to all the places people cannot visit in person. We can visit them here with the Art Assignment through YouTube. 🙂

    Reply
  • Dani Guevara

    Omg ! Thank you for this tour from Madrid !!!! This was an amizing tour thank thank thank you !!!

    Reply
  • Darkvine

    This just makes me feel like eating Mexican now 😀

    Reply
  • Sarah Anthonis

    This is sooo good.

    Reply
  • David MacKay

    Love these videos! One question—Why is the public art trip in Chicago no longer up? I wanted to show a friend of mine, but it seems to be no longer up.

    Reply
  • Uinverso

    Loving these art trips! Thank you for always posting such great content otherwise we wouldn't find it so easy and well curated

    Reply
  • Isabelle

    I love Art Trip! It always inspires me to go out an find new places to enjoy art in my own community. I went to Bay of Spirits Art Gallery in Toronto and loved it – they have an absolutely brilliant collection of Indigenous art and celebrate and support Indigenous artists! I highly recommend an Art Trip Toronto!

    Reply
  • Landry Harmon

    I love some art trips! Thank you so much for this channel. I am completely rethinking my career as a result. Looking for any advice! I'm a finance major at a good business school, but in what way could I work in the art world? How would I even begin that process?

    Reply
  • PoseidonXIII

    This is some mindblowing art! Not only socially speaking but color and intricacy wise too.

    Reply
  • lorenabpv

    i always do a double take whenever people from my country are considered latinx. not because it isn't right, like, i was born and live in latin america, of course i'm latina, but it's a weird identity to have. we don't usually put it that way around here and a lot of american depictions of latinx people are more towards mexicans/central america in general (and mostly about spanish speaking folks). but of course, latin america is huge and there are are lot of different cultures and ethnicies, so that doesn't even make sense, there isn't/shouldn't be a stereotypical latinx "look". anyway, this is all to say that while is not an identity i'm used to having, it is right and i was glad to see some brazilian artists there. great video as always 🙂

    Reply
  • Fennecfoxfanatic

    Wow! I hope I can visit these installations one day! I am stuck in the Midwest :'D

    Reply
  • WashingtonRain

    Yay! I was looking forward to this episode

    Reply
  • Ricky C.

    I travel a lot (I'm a flight attendant) but I'm not sure how to find art in the cities I'm in (often only for a day) besides looking for tourist locations online.

    Do you have any suggestions for how to find events or locations I wouldn't want to miss?

    I'm new so I often don't have a long time before the trip to plan my layover.

    Reply
  • Margaret Moon

    Informative and fantastic episode! Love it. Have you thought about going to smaller cities (I know you went it to Indianapolis) like Fort Worth, TX or Cleveland, Ohio? It's always interesting to find art in unexpected or unknown (at least to me) areas.

    Reply
  • QueenApplebuuum

    I absolutely adore this channel. Very inspiring.

    Reply
  • Rachel Evans

    how long until you do a video on the significance of furry art? It's a huge art movement and community that has been growing and evolving a lot in the past 10 years but gets nearly 0 mainstream recognition.

    Reply
  • Jennifer Combe

    Sarah, I LOVE you. Your work is a rich resource for my classes and I can't thank you enough for your smart and sensitive insights! The next time you're in Missoula I'd love for you to lecture at UM!

    Reply
  • eric downing

    Spanish is a gendered language, stop using latinx and appropriating plight for political correctness

    Reply
  • Umesh Shrestha

    Hi, love your videos.Do you guys have any plans to do this series in Australia? Thanks.

    Reply
  • Raquel Aragon

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. As a native Los Angelino and Latina, I am so grateful that you highlighted this initiative and lifted up the voices of the artists themselves.

    Reply
  • Vicky Rivera

    i live in Los Angeles and you are totally right about the artwork finding you without even trying i have come across 3 of the LA/LA exhibitions. On my way to Olvera Street for the Dia de los Muertos event I stumbled across the Barbara Carrascro's mural which was displayed in Union Station and while trying to get away from the crowds in Olvera Street I found another awesome artwork by the artist Hugo Crosthwaite in the Museum of Social Justice (i didn't even know about this museum. And i also saw an amazing show in the Pasadena Museum of California Art that was showing Cuban movie poster prints. I am Hispanic and grew up and live in East LA. i never realized that i was surrounded by art or even that the murals i took for granted could even be considered art since they did not look like what i was taught could be art, it was on a wall and therefore it was vandalism. It wasn't until recently that i learned about the awesome artists of Chicano art movement that i have come to appreciate and love the murals in my neighborhoods as well as the art that my culture has to offer and i am so happy that big and respected institutions are finally acknowledging and representing these works. PST: LA/LA is literally so amazing and i am so lucky that it is right here basically at my door step. Thank you for sharing it with people and for letting me know which place i should check out next!

    Reply
  • Don't forget to be an asshole.

    Serendipitous! I'm a New Yorker who'll be in Los Angeles for more than a few days at the end of this month. Thanks for highlighting the "best" and seemingly most important places there! Although I love the element of surprise, I appreciate the Art Assignment too much to not watch this sort of preview.

    Reply
  • Daniel Rustad

    This was wonderful.

    Reply
  • Leeann Huang

    Love these trips!
    Do you guys have that list of the rest of the exhibitions and projects in LA you couldn’t see? Would love to make the trek myself 🙂

    Reply
  • Ambrose Reed

    I was just in LA and got to see the Getty shows! Some very cool stuff

    Reply
  • Angela Nguyen

    loved the video!!!

    Reply
  • Joshua Chow

    I love art so much.

    Reply
  • Oliver Bollmann

    I love these episodes, I always emerge delighted, excited, surprised, and blown away by the amazing works and the amazing volume of works that are out there for all of us to see and engage with. Thank you for sharing these artist's works with us and for reminding us to go out and explore. 🙂

    Reply
  • Angela Dagostino

    i would die for you.

    Reply
  • ArtistVai

    I wonder when the book will come out?? Hahah hope it doesn’t turn out like the case of artist Nicholas Gurewitch! ??

    Reply
  • what's it to ya!?

    Damn. Latinas rule.
    Nice to see a glimpse of the cultural diversity in United States! The nation comes across as so uniform and "white" to me-a foreigner-often enough that I forget that it is actually a country of immigrants with various and distinct histories and peoples. This is the side of US I wish I could see more of. 😀

    Reply
  • Krista Miyashiro

    Please post a link to the map featured in the video. Thank you!

    Reply
  • Pierrette Van Cleve

    so smart and informative and interesting and insightful- Thank you for all of this.

    Reply
  • Zac Frost

    I love this channel. Any chance of coming to St. Louis?

    Reply
  • Ernesto Encarncion

    Extraño mi cultura.

    Reply
  • Lawrence Calablaster

    Surprisingly few comments on this amazing video- I love learning about art about which I wouldn't have known 🙂

    Reply
  • Anneliese Gelberg

    This video makes me miss LA :,) I feel very lucky to have grown up there.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *