Curator's Statement

The 2011 City of Los Angeles (C.O.L.A.) Individual Artist Fellowships Exhibition is a special one for me. Over the last fifteen years, I have held the privilege of being associated with this award as a Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery (L.A.M.A.G.) staff member, writer, and supporter since 1996. Now, I stand in the role of my predecessors, Noel Korten and Mark Steven Greenfield, as Curator of this year's 2011 C.O.L.A. Exhibition.

In 1994, Noel Korten, Jeffrey Herr, Mark Johnstone, Joe Smoke, Roella Hsieh Louie and I began discussing the idea of giving grants to individual artists in Los Angeles. These grants would celebrate their creative achievements as artists, and recognize their years of experience in art making and contributing their skills and creativity to this great city. Thus was born the C.O.L.A. Individual Artists Fellowships. Under the direction of Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) general managers, I would like to acknowledge their contributions and steadfastness in keeping C.O.L.A. a successful grants program over the past several years: from Aldofo V. Nodal; to Margie J. Reese; to our current Executive Director, Olga Garay, and recognize their leadership and courage in keeping the vision of the C.O.L.A. program alive and strong for all our communities.

Los Angeles has many treasures for its citizens to celebrate in the arts -- from the west side to the east side, and from downtown to the valley. Places where people can spend the day, or take an art class, or watch a live performance. Our city offers a rich tapestry of culturally diverse audiences that make Los Angeles an international showcase for the arts. I am privileged to work in one of those magical places, Barnsdall Park. Since its opening in 1972, DCA's Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery at Barnsdall Park has been considered the flagship exhibition space for the Department of Cultural Affairs and the City of Los Angeles.

Throughout the history of the gallery, its leadership role in the community has seen many changes, but during these transitional periods, the gallery's focal point has been on our artists, as demonstrated by our past and current exhibition program. The gallery primarily focuses on the presentation, interpretation, documentation, promotion, and enrichment of the visual arts and our artists. The exhibition program is devoted to showcasing emerging, mid-career, and established artists. The exhibitions range from group to individual exhibitions with educational components for each. Our dedication has been to the people of Los Angeles, and our curatorial foundation includes painting, sculpture, photography, architecture, video, installation, design, and other related disciplines that reflect the cultural fabric of the Southern California region.

Celebrate with us the diversity of this year's C.O.L.A. award winners. Fellows in the visual arts are: Anna Boyiazis, Heather Carson, Carolyn Castãno, Tony de los Reyes, Ken Gonzales-Day, Soo Kim, Yong Soon Min, Danial Nord, Dont Rhine, and Mark Dean Veca. Fellows in the performing arts are: Sheetal Gandhi and Ian Ruskin.

L.A.M.A.G. celebrates the accomplishments of these artists by presenting a group, non-thematic exhibition featuring each artist's most current work. The Fellowship's purpose is to give the artists flexibility to step out of their comfort zone and create a body of work which provides an opportunity to tap into their creative, adventurous side, push their limits, and create works that might otherwise be set aside. The C.O.L.A. Fellows are chosen based on their past artistic accomplishments that demonstrate their artistic excellence. The artists are selected by a peer panel of established arts professionals and past C.O.L.A. award winners. This type of selection process results in a diverse group of artists creating an "end product" exhibition and performance series that is always stellar. This year's exhibition contains various common threads: works based on water, light, symbols, sound, and portraiture. These descriptive words link the group of visual artists together in a stunning exhibition.

As a documentary photographer, Anna Boyiazis has, since 2006, photographically documented the daily lives of one family of children in a remote village in the Rakai district of Uganda, the original epicenter of the AIDS pandemic.

Working with formal and conceptual theories, Heather Carson's light pieces fall between East Coast Minimalism and West Coast Light and Space Movement. She is interested in the physicality and dynamic structure of her work, while exploring the complexities of various degrees of white light.

Focusing on classic portraiture, Carolyn Castãno explores the glamorized female forms in her glittered, flocked, rhinestone-covered portraits of Latin American Beauties. These iconic images were developed by the artist from her fascination with these Latin American women who surround themselves with criminal figures from drug cartels and political society. The works manufacture myths of wealth, fame and glamour centered on these Latin folk heroes.

During the past several years, Tony de los Reyes has been interested in historical, political and literary interpretations of pre-existing works. His most recent focus has been on a five-year long fascination with the classic American novel, Moby-Dick. This novel struck a cord with Reyes and brought up many memories of his direct relationship to the sea and as someone who has grown up near the ocean in Los Angeles -- and who, as a sailor, also has great affection for the sea.

Ken Gonzales-Day's current focus is about the presence of what is absent. In his earlier work, Day examined and researched vintage photographs and lynching postcards from the early nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The result was a series called Erased Lynching. While in residence at the Getty Villa in Malibu and at the Field Museum in Chicago, Day began extending his portrait work by photographing marble, bronze, and clay busts on view and in storage vaults at these two museums. For this exhibition, Day is exhibiting a series of large scale photographic imagery based on his visits to these museum collections. These images address issues of race, origin, nature, and the methods and limits of human knowledge.

In her recent work, Soo Kim explores her interest in the removal of imagery, layering multiple photographs together and creating a dimensional photographic work. In this exhibition, Kim has photographed a lush landscape covered in foliage. The imagery Kim creates is colorful and dense; she cuts away and removes areas highlighted by sunlight in the photos. These areas are seen as mostly white space within the photographic image. By cutting these areas out, Kim forces the viewer to slow down, re-examine, and re-interpret the images, allowing the viewer to fill in the cut out areas unconsciously.

Yong Soon Min's work of the past decade dealt with the conditions of diasporas. Her installations and performances are shaped by aftermaths of war, colonialism, and oppression. In her recent installation for C.O.L.A., Overseas/at Sea, Min reflects on personal challenges and medical obstacles. The installation is in response to the turbulence and confusion she felt after a brain hemorrhage that was diagnosed in Korea in 2010. Overseas/at Sea installation is densely layered with rhythmical two-part videos with autobiographical texts, and found videos of Korean television dramas, along with footage of brain scans.

Danial Nord chooses to make a statement on pop culture by identifying with Disney's iconic Mickey Mouse in his video/sound/installation. The large scale Mickey Mouse is created out of discarded television sets, which Nord scavenged and pieced together to create a massive sculptural figure. This "quintessentially American cartoon character" has been associated with the Disney studios since its creation in 1923. We have all been associated with this image for years, and Nord has taken this Icon and given it a contemporary twist. This massive sculptural figure lies on the floor in this installation, looking vulnerable in a fetal position, and gives one pause to question if this cultural icon's time has come to an end. Projections of a montage of television footage and imagery emanate from within the mouse.

In a similar focus, Mark Dean Veca concentrates on corporate food iconography, some of which we all grew to love as kids, such as Charlie the Tuna, Tony the Tiger and the Kool-Aid characters. Veca, however, makes a distortion in their representation. Veca is known for his tongue-in-cheek depiction of culture iconography, his bold choice of colors, and his comic drawing style that creates an uneasy sense from these icons.

For the past fifteen years, Dont Rhine's main practice as an artist was as creative director and sound artist for the art collective Ultra-red. Coming to Los Angeles in the late 1980's Rhine was a founding member of an interdisciplinary art collective named Bang! Manifesto. During his stay in Los Angeles, Rhine directed numerous performances at LACE, Beyond Baroque, and the 1993 Los Angeles Festival. In 1994, Rhine's interest was focused on field sound recordings, which lead to several performances and mixed media installations. For this C.O.L.A. exhibition Rhine and Ultra-red have created an installation of sound objects and a series of works on paper. The gallery space will be the stage for one of Rhine's solo performances based on this installation.

I would like to thank the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural affairs and the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery Associates for their generous support of the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery's exhibition and educational programming. The gallery could not run effectively without the following dedicated staff who continue to strengthen our vision and purpose: Sara Cannon, Curator/Director of Museum Education and Tours; Gabe Cifarelli, Clerk Typist; Michael Lewis Miller, Chief Preparator; Mary E. Oliver, DCA Slide Registrar; Mauricio Vallejo, Preparator/Gallery Attendant; and Bob Dale, Preparator/Gallery Attendant.

In addition, I need to thank the gallery's support staff: Edith Abeyta, Joan Bacon, Michael Bell, Jacqueline Dreager, Marta Feinstein, Randy Kiefer, Albino Najar, Annette Owens, Norma Jean Squires, Nancy Stanford, and Nan Wollman. I would also like to thank our designer for this year's C.O.L.A. invitation and online catalogue, Jody Zellen, for the creative energy she has given to this project. Special thanks go out to all the C.O.L.A writers who have worked with each artist in developing the artist's voice in this catalogue: Shana Nys Dambrot, Heidi Helen Davis, Daniel Hernandez, Carole Klonarides, Steve Lam, Aram Moshayedi, Kristina Newhouse, Vanessa Place, Dave Shulman, Sara Stranovsky, Sara Terry and Ultra Red Group, and to our editor, Rochelle Bates for her outstanding editorial oversight on the project. Finally, Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery has a rich history of working with artists from all over Southern California and our surrounding communities, so I want to give my most gracious thanks to them for their generous support over the many years, and especially thank the residents of Los Angeles who keep this gallery as a beacon for the arts in Los Angeles.

Scott Canty
Curator and Director of Exhibitions
Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery
Department of Cultural Affairs
City of Los Angeles