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The Eye Of L.a. / Mark Bradford

THE ART ISSUE

A native son and rising art star immortalizes South Los Angeles' 'merchant class.' In Bradford's collages, Ernest Hardy sees the signs and the subtexts of everyday life, as multihued and multilingual as the place they come from.

June 11, 2006|Ernest Hardy | Ernest Hardy has written for Rolling Stone, Vibe, LA Weekly and the New York Times. He is also the author of "Blood Beats: Vol. 1: Demos, Remixes & Extended Versions," a collection of cultural criticism.

"What will be interesting is--" He pauses a beat before continuing. "I've thought about what you do with the currency, because there is a certain amount of currency and quote/unquote power that comes with showing at LACMA, showing at the Whitney. It stacks up a certain credibility to some people. At the same time, it also--I feel, in my case--could possibly shift the dynamic of power. For instance, my new studio will be in Leimert Park. And I specifically knew that I wanted my studio in no other place but Leimert Park. It's sort of the cultural bastion of a kind of Afrocentricism. It's the only area that people point to and say, 'That's where the black art is. Local black art goes there.' And I need to insert myself in that conversation. I need to insert my studio in that conversation. I need to insert all these sort of postmodern hybrid theories in that conversation, almost like a rocket just hitting into it. And I think that vibration--my association with the area, their association with my open studio--" He pauses again.

"I haven't yet figured it all out, but I know that's sort of the first step in inserting myself into a kind of local flow. And not because I feel like it's a responsibility, but because it's just something that I've always wanted to do. I've always been very interested in bridging."

Bridge building. It brings to mind an anecdote shared by Thelma Golden.

"My vision of Mark, always, is that of him on the night of the Biennial," she says warmly. "I had a very typical Mark experience in that I was standing my 5 feet [tall self] in the crowd, couldn't see anyone, couldn't see anything. And Mark, sort of standing over it all, saw me and indicated where everyone else was. That's how I think of Mark--kind of standing above and looking out there, being able to pull it all into him, all into his world."

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Mark Bradford's "Market>Place" (2006) is on view in "Consider This . . . ," a LACMALab exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art through January.

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