REVIEW: Visual Vital Poetry

Whoever knew that a series of letters form letters between Eve Luckring and the East Los Angeles Area Placating Committee could be such a joy to read.

Or that Sabina Nieto’s bull glancing back at a train in “Please Don’t Tell What Train I’m On” would make me laugh out loud.

The second floor galleries at the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts opened its Visual Poetry & Performance Festival Friday night to rooms hung with  delight. Yes, not all of the pieces, ranging from Ingrid Keir‘s  small table set with a simple typewriter, a poem left in, to Caterina Davinio‘s video collage “Obscure Nature” made me laugh, but nearly all made me want to look close.

Arbol de Miradas by Kreit Vargas Gomez

Arbol de Miradas by Kreit Vargas Gomez

kitchenWords angled into bird cages in the ink on paper pieces by Giovanni Singleton, undulated on water in Augusto Carrasco‘s “Barco de Papel,”  and lay flat on the wall behind kitchen utensils wrapped in twine in “I only said that because I was angry” by Alfonso Jaramillo. They emerged with sketches in a video piece by Gloria Arteaga “La Ciudad del Reciclaye” “The City of Recycling, Lima 2008.

Adrián Arias, one of four curators, explains in a  scroll  hung at the opening of the smaller gallery that the show takes its inspiration from the Peruvian poet Eduardo Eielson, who encouraged his peers to add a visual context to their work.  José Miguel Oviedo, wrote in Letres Libres, after Eielson died in Italy  in 2006,  that the Peurvian “used the written, spoken, visual or performance as mere facets of the same impulse….everything is art, everything is poetry.”

The 34  artists invited to participate  offered proof of Eielson’s notion. And yes the idea sounds a lot like the Dada Movement of the  1920s, but so be it. What fun.

Looking at Letters done by Eve Lucking

Looking at Letters done by Eve Lucking

Patricia Rodríguez, the gallery coordinator, explained the only requirement to submitting work: “It had to have  words.” And this turned out to be liberating—for the imagination of artist and viewer, but also for the expansion of words, language, bursting forth from the narrow confines of lines and blocks.

Rodríguez, Arias and the two other curators, Sebastián Dávila and Carolina Lucero  made inspired choices.

Take the official looking series of letters by Luckring from Los Angeles where art is tucked  into bureaucratese. Mid-way through an appeal letter over “property at slipping hill” Luckring states her reasons for the appeal:

pink flags staked
in the golden grass
of Walnut canyon
a coyote makes her bed
In the last rays of sun

By the end of the series tacked up on the wall looking officious, dull and spare, we have this surprise “soft mud from the fallen hill
Sucks up the high heels of the City Planning Deputy.”  But you must go to enjoy for everything in between.

There’s way too many good pieces, but as a result, I was once again reminded why I like the gallery space at the center.  When  the center hangs such a good show, the viewer doesn’t feel overwhelmed.

A good crowd gathered, but we still had room to move through the two galleries  time to spend with such pieces as those done by  Renato Pita Zilbert in  “A de Andes” or  Luis Alvarado’s  “Papel Blanco.”   Much of the work is simple, but sharp.

And, sainthood walked among us.  Santa Perversa offered visitors a chance to pin a hope on her long red robe. What did we want in love? Ah, at least a sense of humor.

Santa Perversa

Santa Perversa

It was at work in the art.

See Lucía Fenandez’s “Casa Barco” or House Boat  Kreit Vargas Gómez’s “Arbol de Miradas.”

Really, there are few pieces that miss and between now and July 10th when it closes,  artists will also perform on Wednesday evenings at 7 p.m..

Tonight’s opening performance starred Shelley Cook-Contreras and James Mitchell.  Alas, I had to leave early to see the preview of Federico Garcia Lorca’s play going on downstairs.  I could hear the stomping of feet and music..ah, how I wanted to be upstairs.

I did see that Mamacoatl, who was a hit at the recent Mission Arts Performance Project, is scheduled for the 8th.

But I hope to be there for all of the performers.

Lastly, to Rodríguez, who has been the gallery’s director since 2001 and is leaving to teach, thank you.   Rodríguez has long filled the Mission District with outstanding murals.   What a great note to end on.

By Patricia Rodriguez, taken from her website.

By Patricia Rodriguez, taken from her website.

Filed under: Art

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