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El Jardin Femenil y Otros Ocasos

Last Chance: Art Inspired by the Drug Wars in the Echo Park Patch

The Echo Park Patch gives El jardin Femenil a nice plug. Now go see it. Show closes April 7th, 2012 click here for original.

The Echo Park Patch
Last Chance: Art Inspired by the Drug Wars

By Anthea Raymond

April 2, 2012

Colombian-American aritst Carolyln Castano grew up in Historic Filipinotown and lives in Solano Canyon today. Her latest show "El Jardin Femenil Y Otros Ocasos" closes April 7 at the Walter Macial Gallery.

Decorated Garden Head (Nery)Decorated Garden Head (Nery)

Solano Canyon-based painter and video artist Carolyn Castano has been at the cutting edge for a long while.

Her work was included in the controversial Phantom Sightings: Art after the Chicano Movement, which originated at LACMA in 2008.

She's been a board member at Highland Park's Outpost for Contemporary Art, and, in 2010, organized a Soccer Tournament benefit integrating performance art and live music on the Vista Hermosa fields in Echo Park.

Castano's parents came to the U.S. from Colombia in 1962, and settled in Historic Filipinotown, where she grew up.

Lately, she's been thinking and creating a lot about narco-traffcking and how women, especially, are affected.

Her show El Jardin Femenil Y Otros Ocasos features paintings and videos on that theme, according to a press release:

The role of women in the male-dominated drug culture is performed in many guises as mules, money launderers, trophies and wives. Not coincidentally, many of these women are also beauty queens, models, actresses, or TV journalists. The show includes large format paintings of young female victims.

Castano also portrays a newscaster modeled after Maria Elena Salinas, a well-known Latina journalist, in a video created for the show.

El Jardin Femenil Y Otros Ocasos continues Saturday, April 7 at the Walter Macial Gallery 2642 S. La Cienega Blvd 90034.

Art review: Carolyn Castaño at Walter Maciel Gallery

El Jardin Femenil Y Otros Ocasos receives a wonderful review from Sharon Mizota of the LA Times. Click here.

LA Times

Culture Monster

Art Review: Carolyn Castaño at Walter Maciel Gallery

by Sharon Mizota

March 22, 2012

Narco Venus (Angie)Narco Venus (Angie)

Carolyn Castaño’s latest exhibition at Walter Maciel Gallery serves as an ambivalent memorial to female victims of the Latin American drug trade. Four large paintings, each named for a real woman, depict idealized nudes reclining in lush, glitter-strewn tropical landscapes. The women are equal parts art history and pin-up poster, but there’s something sinister about the large, Rousseau-like vegetation that surrounds them. Studded with skulls and other images of death, ominous swathes of pure black press in, giving the figures’ white skin an otherworldly glow.

Smaller paintings feature the severed heads of male drug lords — a seemingly vindictive symbolic act. While Castaño restores the women to life, she tosses the men’s heads in the long grass. Still, they too are encrusted with glitter and sparkly flowers. Perhaps they died much as they lived: astride an undercurrent of violence papered over with rhinestones.

The paintings are darkly beautiful, but the highlight of the show is a video featuring Castaño as a newscaster rattling off a litany of sound bites on the history and status of women in Latin America. Alternating seamlessly between English and Spanish — often in mid-sentence — the work pokes fun at the quick-cut, non sequitur nature of TV news while rattling the viewer’s linguistic and cognitive circuits. It undoes what we think we know about Latin American women, clearing a space, hopefully, for something more real and complex.