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Contemporary Mexican Artists in Exhibit Reveal a Broad Taste in Creative Works

February 05, 1989|ZAN DUBIN

Whether living north or south of the border, artists of Hispanic descent will be well represented around town during the next few weeks.

While the County Museum of Art (like several local galleries) features work by American Latino artists in its "Hispanic Art in the United States" exhibit, USC's Fisher Gallery is presenting 95 works by 17 Mexican artists.

"Contemporary Mexican Artists," through Feb. 18, "is a combination of painting, drawing, sculpture and photography," said exhibit curator Robert R. Littman, director of Centro Cultural Arte Contemporaneo, a private contemporary art museum in Mexico City. "The work is mostly by artists under 40 and ranges from abstract to very realistic; much of it is figurative."

The exhibit was designed to demonstrate the diversity of contemporary art currently being produced in Mexico, but its works are not necessarily identifiable with that country, Littman stressed.

"The only thing that connects these artists is that they were born in Mexico and continue to work in Mexico. This has some sort of effect on their visual orientation, but if you isolated each one of them and said name the country of origin, you would not necessarily say Mexico.

"Still, the exhibit is meant to be here at the same time as LACMA's exhibit, just to show that people living in Mexico are making interesting art just like people of Latin American origins are."

The initial impetus for the USC exhibit came from Los Angeles' foremost art collector, Norton Simon, Littman said.

"He has a great interest in Mexico and contacted us through our board chairman. . . . We then told (Fisher Gallery director) Selma Holo, who has done a great deal of research for Simon's collection, that we wanted to have some presence of Mexico during the county museum's Hispanic exhibit and she volunteered her facility."

GOING SOLO: Also scheduled to coincide with LACMA's "Hispanic Art" exhibit is a solo show of works by leading Los Angeles artist Carlos Almaraz at the Jan Turner Gallery. Several major works will be featured, chief among them a large-scale, four-panel painting of Echo Park that is pictured in the museum show's catalogue (but won't be a part of the show). The four panels are separately owned and are rarely seen as a whole.

"There are some important works in (the gallery) exhibit that we think the public should see at same time they see the county museum's show," said Jan Turner Gallery director Craig Krull.

The Echo Park portrait, titled, "Echo Park Lake," is rendered in the artist's vibrantly colored, Expressionistic style. It will also be part of a Latino art exhibit curated in France and scheduled to travel to four European cities this May through next spring, Krull said. The local gallery exhibit, with works from the last 10 years, runs Saturday through March 4.

Among other Latino artists currently featured in local gallery shows are Robert Gil de Montes and Ernest Silva at Jan Baum; Gronk at Saxon-Lee, and Frank Romero at Lizardi/Harp.GRANT HELP: Several workshops will be held in February to assist in writing applications for grants from the National/State/County/Partnership. The grants are for Los Angeles County-based arts organizations only. The workshop schedule is as follows:

For theater organizations: Mon., Feb. 6, 10 a.m., Victory Theatre, 3326 Victory Blvd., Burbank; Tue., Feb. 7, 10 a.m., Balcony Theatre, Pasadena Playhouse, 39 S. El Molina, Pasadena.

For dance organizations: Tue., Feb. 7, 7 p.m.; Japanese American Cultural and Community Center, 244 S. San Pedro St.; Mon., Feb. 13, 6 p.m., Green Room, Convention and Entertainment Center, 300 E. Ocean Blvd., Long Beach; Wed., Feb. 15, 1 p.m., Conference Room, John Anson Ford Theatre, 2630 Cahuenga Blvd., East, Hollywood.

The deadline for this round of grants is March 3. Information: (213) 974-1343.

NEW BOOKS: "Hokusai" by Matthi Forrer (Rizzoli International Publications, Inc., 399 pages), documents the work of the master Japanese artist Hokusai, who captured the burgeoning city of Edo (modern-day Tokyo) during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. With nearly 500 images--depicting Mt. Fuji, Shinto Shrines, elegantly robed courtesans, eagles, tigers and dragons--the book details all major phases in the career of the prolific printmaker, draftsman and painter. Lengthy studies of the artist by celebrated French aesthetician Edmond de Goncourt are included.

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