Dispatches from Alla: Gary Garay
October 18, 2009, 3:35 pm
Filed under: art, Chicano, Los Angeles, Video | Tags: , , , ,

Gary Garay, The Last Buffalo, 2004

Gary Garay, The Last Buffalo, 2004

About a month ago, a discussion on the Art and Music of Post-Mexico by Josh Kun at Boston’s ICA got our juices flowing.  More than that, it gave us some considerable material to reflect upon, which we hope to share sooner or later on our pages here at tirado/thrown.  We hope to do so once we have a some more developed reflections ready to go.

Among the trove of exquisite finds Kun shared with those in attendance was the work of Gary Garay, whose evocative work retrieves and re-imagines some of the basic elements of Mexican-American life: paletas, Nike Cortez shoes, “Grandes Exitos” collections, sheepskin seat covers, brick cell phones, cinder blocks, pagers and so on.  He’s got a wealth of images to offer from the sources he draws upon.  A favorite of ours is The Last Buffalo (above), an ink drawing that almost immediately calls to mind the original Brown Buffalo, Oscar Zeta Acosta, and a painting by Eddie Martinez, Val Kilmer’s James Brown.  One part celebration and another part lament, it appears to melancholically announce the loss and disappearance of the Chicano as a robust cultural figure in American life.

Eddie Martinez, Val Kilmer's James Brown, 2008

Eddie Martinez, Val Kilmer's James Brown, 2008

As a part of LACMA’s Phantom Sightings show–which we hope to check out when it arrives at New York’s Museo del Barrio in March 2010– the county museum has an interview with Garay that goes into how he treats his source material.  More to come in time.

Image sources: Gary Garay, ZeiherSmith


Late March NYC Weekender
March 27, 2008, 12:26 am
Filed under: art, Music, Rock | Tags: , , , , ,

Light Cycle Explosion

There are times when there’s enough available time to squeeze in a quick weekend jaunt. In this case, circumstances are such that a quick 36-hour trip to New York City is materializing. Since I’m expecting to arrive at around 3:30 or 4:00 on Saturday afternoon, I have to be hasty as to reach my first destination before it closes. And the weekend should be pretty busy from there. Some things I’m eager to check out on my short trip:

  • Anavan at Glasslands. L.A.-based Anavan counts among its members long-time KXLU DJ Bret Berg, whose rather quiet disposition contains a volatile admixture of near-mawkish camp and a keen ear for post-punk. His radio show Egg City is no longer, but he’s been actively nurturing his audiophilia at his blog, aptly titled Egg City Radio. Anavan’s music comes from a home-grown part of the L.A. underground that began sinking roots after the demise of Jabberjaw in the late 90s and found a home in places like the Smell.  Anavan channel the spirits of bands like Chicka-Chicka, the Fall, and Blank-Wave Arcade-era Faint and allow the dirty pop to follow as a result.
  • An evening and morning in Bushwick: That means staying with friends and visiting the panaderia to get a stash of pan dulce for the ride home and maybe, just maybe, grabbing some fruta, limon, y chile in the vicinity of Maria Hernandez park, where there’s likely to be plenty of activity on a late Sunday morning.
  • Cai Guo-Qiang- I Want to Believe at the Guggenheim: Since missing his show at MassMoCA in 2005, it’s been a priority to catch any exhibition of his that’s possible to attend. Luckily enough, this retrospective of his work is a great chance to take in a good sampling of his extensive and intricate body of work. Far better videos and samples of his various works than the one narrated by bloviating Guggenheim muckety-mucks can be found on his website, which contains a pretty comprehensive catalog of his projects.
  • The 2008 Whitney Biennial: There’s a chance I won’t make it, but it’s worth an attempt, mostly to see what people in the art world seem to be excited about in American contemporary art. Exposure to overwhelming amounts of work serve less to get me caught up than to realize the possibility that contemporary art is less about trends than to perpetually experience oneself as a beginner with limited opportunities to find a point of entry. L.A. seems to have some solid representation in the exhibition, with names like the Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black, Daniel Joseph Martinez, and Mario Ybarra Jr. included in the artist roster.

    All in all, it’s an art-intensive trip with possible fodder for future posts. I’m open to suggestions for a good place to eat lunch on the Upper East side between the Guggenheim and the Whitney on Sunday, or dinner between Chelsea and Brooklyn.

    Image Credit: Cai Guo-Qiang, Light Cycle: Explosion Project for Central Park, Central Park, New York, USA, 2003. Original location: www.caiguoqiang.com

    To see: Eddie Martinez at ZeiherSmith
    March 3, 2008, 7:03 pm
    Filed under: art | Tags: , ,

    Eddie’s work as an artist and curator is unrelenting. His main gestures involve breaking things down and building them up again; his obsession for giving objects and materials new uses shows in his work. During his stint in Boston in the early ’00s, he took his hustle nationally and curated The Russian Doll show, where he handed fifty or so visual artists a set of Russian Matryoshka dolls and asked them for their interpretations. It landed in Boston at the old Green Street Gallery.

    Perhaps he was inspired the by coming across the painted Matryoyshkas with images of political figures, celebrities, and pop-culture icons while trawling deep into Brookline or swerving past the kiosk in the middle of the hallway at the Prudential Center. But what was clear from the show was that Martinez saw the Matryoshka as possessing possibilites beyond their typical, decorative use and put into play their abilty to be very flexible means of representation. In essence, Martinez’ idea removed the dolls from their specifically folk context and allowed the doll’s figure to become a manipulable and plastic form.

    Since he left Boston for NYC in 2004,* I had come across reports of his activity, an illustration job here doing a cover for Copper Press, a possible advertising job somewhere else, some work featured in gallery shows, and that he had taken to painting. But overall, news on the Eddie Martinez front had been sporadic. So it was it was exciting to learn while flipping through the most recent issue of Artforum that Eddie is having a gallery show in New York this month, his second with the ZieherSmith Gallery: a full-page ad with a studio shot, no less.

    Not bad for a dude that was re-mixing priority mail labels by drawing on them, filling them in with color and splaying them out across the city and who, in a fit of frustration at what he saw was the onslaught of gentrification of Jamaica Plain back in 2002-3 by re-purposing a “Do Not Enter” sign. On it he affixed a previously-noted postage label of a short-beaked bird in flight donning a ball cap. On the sign’s bottom half he painted a cloud-shaped field of blue and drew a furry celestial gorilla at the bottom commenting “Let’s keep it blue-collar…”. Two days after he did his business, the sign was taken down and ceased being a note of caution.

    UntitledSo what to expect at Martinez’ next show? Paintings, it seems, many paintings and some assorted drawings and mixed media pieces alongside. Primitive and tender still lives sit alongside densely composed figures playing ping-pong . The paintings are deliberately coarse and elemental, thickly textured and communicating constant activity. Martinez’ figures speak with their eyes, whether those of the vigilant and suffering eagle in Untitled, or the confused, feverish, and intense visages found in Separate the Men from the Boys. His drawing and mixed media and paper work shown on the gallery’s website are busy, vibrant, and sometimes somber, but they have gathered objects at their center. It is indeterminate whether they are the artifacts collected from someone now lost or whether these objects are inventoried in anticipation of a coming event.

    The show at ZeiherSmith opens March 12.

    *Josh Glenn over at Brainiac today openly pondered what I was thinking when writing this post: Why does all of our local talent leave? Visit his column for his most recent tally.