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Gamboa: Reflections Of An Urban Environment

May 10, 1987|ZAN DUBIN

Diane Gamboa is glad to be taking part in "Mira! The Second Canadian Club Hispanic Art Tour," an exhibition devoted exclusively to Latino artists, at Plaza de la Raza. But she says the national show of 62 paintings by 31 Latino artists won't make up for the inadequate representation of Latino artists she sees within the local art Establishment.

"There are a few Latino artists placed in the mainstream," at the museum level, said the Los Angeles native during a recent phone interview. "You hear of Gronk or Carlos Almaraz. But those are the only ones I can think of on that level at this point."

"I often end up in a pure woman or pure Latino show, and I'd like to get out of that and be viewed as an artist--period," said Gamboa, 29. "Also, I think people have a preconceived idea of what Latino art is, that it utilizes images like a cactus or the Virgin of Guadalupe. My work is not about any of those things."

"Private Dressing Room," one of two Gamboa paintings on view at the Lincoln Park gallery, particularly represents what the artist's work is about: "Living in Los Angeles and dealing with the struggle to survive in this concrete urban jungle."

The 4-by-6-foot mixed-media work addresses "the lack of privacy we deal with living in such a populated place," said Gamboa, who grew up with four siblings in a small East Los Angeles home. "The image is of a man who wears an upsetting expression because the viewer is in a position of a Peeping Tom.

"My work also deals a lot with the crossover of love and pain and how they ride side by side."

Gamboa is the younger sister of Harry Gamboa, who, along with Gronk and others, in the early '70s founded Asco, an anti-art Establishment group of young Latino street artists. Involved in art from early childhood, as a teen-ager she designed sets, wardrobe, props and face make-up for Asco's performance art projects, many of them written by her older brother.

From 1982-84, Gamboa studied at Otis/Parsons Art Institute, "but dropped out of their fine art program because it was stifling my creative energies."

Gamboa, lately producing mostly mixed-media, vibrantly colored paintings, also continues her design work for Asco ("the contemporary version of the group") and elsewhere. She has also made "paper fashions," or throw-away apparel pieces. "Over the years, these have become more elaborate artworks, rather than spontaneously made disposable napkins," she said.

Some of these works are included in a group exhibit sponsored by the Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Department currently on view in Taipei, Taiwan. In January, she had a solo exhibit of small drawings at Natalie Bush Gallery in San Diego, and her work has also been shown in Mexico City and New York.

These "ongoing creative projects" are Gamboa's way of helping to improve Latino artists' representation in the art world.

"I'm completely dedicated and I continue to work. My art is out there. . . ."

"Mira!," a traveling show, also includes a painting by the public art team East Los Streetscapers, based in East Los Angeles. The exhibition is made possible by Hiram Walker Inc., distillers of Canadian Club beverages. Its Los Angeles showing, through June 19, is co-sponsored by Plaza de la Raza and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund.

COME ON DOWNTOWN: Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE) holds its "Open Studio Tour 1987" Saturday and next Sunday. The annual event is a self-guided tour of downtown artists' studios that gives participants an intimate view into the process of making art.

A different tour will be offered on each weekend day. Tour maps ($3 for LACE members, $5 for non-members) may be purchased at LACE, 1804 Industrial St., where the tours will begin.

LACE Director Joy Silverman said she expects about 75 to 100 artists to participate. Artists' studios are located in the downtown area bordered by the Hollywood, Harbor and Santa Monica freeways and the Los Angeles River.

GOING, GOING . . .: The Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum kicks off its exhibition/auction, "The Dionysian Revel & Auction III," Saturday with a 5-7 p.m. public reception. Sixty American artists have made paintings, drawings, photographs and sculptures for the thematic exhibit, "A Garden of Earthly Delights," running May 19-27. All these artworks will be auctioned off at Santa Barbara Aviation on May 30.

Among artists taking part in the show are John McCracken, Sam Francis, Roland Reiss, Mineko Grimmer, Joyce Treiman and George Herms.

Silent bids will be accepted during the exhibit and sealed bids may be left at the gallery for those unable to attend the auction. An auction gala party will also be held May 30. For tickets, call the Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum at (805) 966-5373.

LEND AN EAR: Art critic Robert Hughes will deliver a lecture at UCLA's Royce Hall Thursday night at 8. Hughes, a senior writer for Time magazine since 1970, titles his talk "A Cool Eye on Hot Art." He will address the contemporary art scene in "On the Artist in Society," a lecture series co-sponsored by the Museum of Contemporary Art and UCLA's College of Fine Arts.

Hughes was originally scheduled to speak at UCLA's Dickson Auditorium, but popular demand prompted the move to Royce (which seats more than 1,800, almost four times that of Dickson), according to a MOCA spokeswoman.

All but Kramer's talk were sold out, the spokeswoman said. At press time, tickets were still available for the Hughes lecture at the UCLA Central Ticket Office, MOCA, Ticketron and Ticketmaster, she said, and will probably be available at the door.

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