Walter Maciel Gallery
2642 S. La Cienega Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90034
310 839 1840
Walter Maciel Gallery
2642 S. La Cienega Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90034
310 839 1840
I received the call to be interviewed for KCET's ARTBOUND about some of my ten top artistic influences. I couldn't really pinpoint who were exactly my artistic influences, since there have been so many through-out the years. Would it be seeing Van Gogh at the Musee Orsay in Paris? Rubens at the Louvre, or reading about Anais Nin and the Surrealists at an early age? Those were the teenage years, later on I can definitely say that experiencing MOCA's groundbreaking Helter Skelter was transformative, as well as some of the early alternative art spaces, which later on transformed themselves into established art venues, such as FoodHouse. The work of Lari Pittman, Chris Ofili, Kara Walker, Philip Taaffe, Frida Kahlo, Sue Williams, Ambrose Beardsley, Florine Stettheimer, Claude Cahun, amongst so many more! For the interview, I was in a really retrospective mood, I was remembering not so much my visual art influences, but those other genres that created that artistic "aha" moment. Really it was style, aka fashion and music that led me to art-making. I was a square catholic school girl and experiencing the wild rebellion of the Eighties music scene and the creative interpretations of fashion on kids everywhere that allowed me a peek into another world, that world of makers that I wanted to be a part of.
A few of us from Casa Tres Patios visited the other folks at Campos de Gutierrez for a charla or informal crit session. Campos de Gutierrez is another artist residency program here in Medellin. Housed in a beautiful hundred year old finca house, Campos is located up the mountain just fifteen minutes from downtown Medellin. It feels like you are hundreds of miles from the hubbub of the city. Andres, who runs the residency and can be said to be a resident artist as well, has organized weekly crit sessions with other artists in Medellin. It has been incredible to share my work with others here, as well as to learn about the work that is being done by artists coming to Medellin, as well artists working here.
During this critica or crit session we viewed the work of Belfast artist Helen Turbidy. Helen has been doing a kind of baroque interruptions in art centers around town. We talked about set design, narrative, and crime scenes. Helen is really enjoying the vast array of fabrics and plastics available here. Medellin is the industrial and textile capital of Colombia, which makes for a veritable artist's playground. You can see us ( Featured are New Zealand artists Ana Terry and Don Hunter, Andres Monzon and Helen Turbidy) in deep conversation with laptops and Jesus in the background. You had to be there! Also, we viewed Andres Monzon's paintings of Latin divas. Andres was classically trained in the Renaissance method of grisaille and glazing used to achieve that deep three dimensional look that you get in a Caravaggio painting. That "real" look in a painting is really valued here in Colombia, amongst the older generation, but He is of course taking it beyond that to address more contemporary concerns. His paintings of divas are amazing! They seem to be caught between a moment of ecstasy and agony.
After our charla, we took the bus up to the town of Santa Elena for a Colombian almuerzo (lunch) and a piping hot canelazo. Canelazo is a drink made out of pure sugar cane mixed with cinnamon and passion fruit. Usually had in colder climates, a canelazo is meant to warm up your bones, and if in the mood I believe you can add a shot of whiskey or rum. Why not?! Y Por que no?
It's been the first week of my residency at Casa Tres Patios in Medellin, Colombia and already it's looking like it will be an exciting and life altering experience. Casa Tres Patios is a contemporary arts center and residency program which hosts artists from Colombia and abroad to do projects in Medellin. Their mission is to link artists with the greater community of Medellin in collaborative social projects that engage the community. Casa Tres Patios have matched me with a non-profit called Mujeres Que Crean . During my time here, I plan to create a series of drawings and a video with women who have been affected by the armed conflict in Colombia. In the first part of the project, the women will look at and make drawings of flowers and birds found in Colombia. Colombia is a rich country in resources; being one of top five in the world in ecological diversity, everywhere you look in the city, you see beautiful and rare flora and fauna, never mind when you actually get out to where the real nature is. In Colombia, nature is simultaneously the site of many conflicting ideas; the sublime, a biblical paradise or environmental eden, while also being the locus of much devastation, the unknown and horror; where people are disappeared, never to be seen again.
Like women and children, the flora and fauna are the most vulnerable victims of war. In the second phase of the project, we will be looking at representations of women throughout art history. I'm interested in how archetypal images of womanhood as virgins, warriors, mothers, and working women can be used as metaphors for some of the experiences these women have had. The women who work with Mujeres Que Crean are either direct victims of the armed-conflict, many have lost a husband, son, or brother and some cases all of their family members through the war that is wielded in the countryside by the guerrilla groups and para-military; while others are younger women who have not experienced war directly, but have grown up in the towns or barrios and "shanty towns" that have sprung up (over many years and now are quite established) and experience day to day violence of growing up in a ghetto. Mujeres Que Crean works with these women to help them process what has happened to them and by empowering them to break the cycle of violence by becoming agents of peace in their communities.
Already, I feel very humbled by this experience, feeling that it is bringing together all the issues and work I've been doing, as a teacher working with at-risk youth and communities and my visual work surrounding issues of women and my love of nature and the way these two can be intertwined. Btw, I saw the most amazing bird called Solitude, I will try to post a picture of him later.
In El Reporte Femenil/The Female Report, TV newscaster Silviana Godoy reports on past and current status of women in Latin America. In a long and exhaustive monologue intercut with images of political figures, pop stars, and revolutionaries, Godoy recounts the accomplishments and downfalls of women south of the border. In collaboration with Gary Dauphin.
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.
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.
To see online article and photo gallery, go here.
Carolyn Castaño's Bedazzled Victims of Latin American Narco-Wars
March 28, 2012
Carolyn Castano explores the narratives of the narco-wars in Latin America, highlighting the female roles in a male-dominated world of violence, politics, drugs and money. Castano's exhibition "El Jardin Femenil Y Otros Ocasos" loosely translates to "the female garden and other dark sunsets (or twilights)".
The metallic collection explores the proximity between woman as reclining goddess and woman as dead weight. Art history overlaps with drug trafficking in that women serve as both passive and beautiful objects for men to exploit.
In the world of drug cartels, women often play mules, trophies, patient wives and eventually victims. Castano's collection depicts nude, dead women buried in dark foliage. The targets are beautiful; in real life they are often models and beauty queens. There is a dark playfulness to her palette, which incorporates rhinestones, glitter and metallic pigments. The morbid subject matter is rendered almost like a Lisa Frank fuzzy coloring poster. The glitter and glamor that characterizes a pretty face translates onto the canvas even after her death. Sick as it may be, she never stops being an object of beauty.
The Los Angeles based artist incorporates a bling factor to her works that recall the rush of new money. Her paintings contain a bit of Rousseau's "Equatorial Jungle", Andy Warhol's pop and memento mori iconography. There is also a psychedelic element to the paintings, drawing a connection between a drug-induced nirvana and a post-mortem one. Whether dead or alive, a reclining nude is a reclining nude, even if she is covered in glitter.
El Jardin Femenil Y Otros Ocasos receives a wonderful review from Sharon Mizota of the LA Times. Click here.
Art Review: Carolyn Castaño at Walter Maciel Gallery
by Sharon Mizota
March 22, 2012
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.
Notes On Looking reviews my exhibition at Walter Maciel Gallery, El Jardin Femenil & Otros Ocasos. Look here for original.
Notes on Looking
By Carlyn Aguilar
March 5, 2012
New mural in Culver City for Siqueiros, Papel y Madera, Fabian Debora at Homeboy, Frida Kahlo está en Wonderland, Carolyn Castaño’s Narco Venus & Mi Familia
Here is an excerpt:
And if it’s women you want to see, then definitely visit Carolyn Castaño’s exhibition El Jardín Femenil y Otros Ocasos showing now at Walter Maciel Gallery in Culver City. When you enter the gallery space, you enter into a world of lush gardens, at first colorful and bright. Beautiful, naked women are covered in glitter and rhinestones. The flowers seem to be blooming. But then the darkness creeps in, and you realize this is not the Garden of Eden, but a garden of death and tragedy. The blackness in the paintings begins to set the tone. The sun may be shining, but the black mountains seem somber and isolated. The skin of the Latin women is no longer brown, but pure white, bloodless and ghostly. The women are forever trapped in this tropical garden of opium poppies and marihuana and coca leaves, surrounded by decapitated heads and calaveras. But these women do not look sad. Two rest peacefully while the others recline in flirtatious positions and stare at their audience with their beautiful glittering eyes, confident, tough, sexy, inviting.
Christopher Knight reviews the COLA Individual Artist Fellowship Award 2011. For online version click here
June 9, 2011
by Christopher Knight
The gallery housing Danial Nord's "State of the Art" sculpture at the Municipal Art Gallery is pitch-black. Until your eyes adjust, pretty much all a visitor sees is shards of bluish-white light flickering like broken glass on surrounding walls, as well as inside some unfathomable structure taking up most of the small room.
A vaguely militaristic audio-remix of the familiar "Mickey Mouse Club March" theme song, its rat-a-tat-tat snare drum echoing repetitiously (even relentlessly) inside the chamber, gives a clue as to what slowly comes into view. A 17-foot-long sculpture of Mickey lies on its side. The cartoon rodent, fabricated from cast-off television sets, recalls an armored vehicle.
The sleeping-or-dead pose is critical to the work's creepy success, as is the sheer volume of old TV sets from which the work is deftly cobbled together. Nord's video-sculpture wedges itself into an electronic zone somewhere between a numbed life and eternal death, between commercialized seductions of youthful play and the cast-off consumer culture that has long-since replaced the "idiot box" of the cathode-ray tube era with today's ubiquitous digital flat-screen. Mickey is dead; long live Mickey!
"State of the Art" (even the title blows a cold breeze) is video as sinister inevitability in our globalizing march. It's also a strong work in a strong exhibition -- "COLA 2011," the public presentation of works by artist-recipients in the most recent round of the city of Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Department's individual artist grants. Ten artists are in the show.
Ken Gonzalez Day's large ink-jet prints put photographs of figure and portrait sculptures by artists and anthropologists in confrontation and conversation -- a colonial American woman and a classical Venus, for example, opposite Japanese and Eskimo women. Similarities and differences are thrown into high relief, but it's the blank chasm between them (in this case, between cultural conceptions of East and West) that looms largest.
Carolyn Castaño, who is Colombian American, elaborates her eye-popping brand of extreme netherworld celebrity portraits with a series of brightly painted, glitter-encrusted, life-size reclining nudes that she calls "Narco Venuses," fictionalized tabloid girlfriends of drug lords here adorned with cascades of poppies, pot leaves and skulls. Heather Carson merges Dan Flavin's industrial-strength fluorescent tubes and lighting fixtures with Agnes Martin's painted pastel abstractions of horizontal color bars, forming an unlikely pairing for wall sculptures simultaneously ephemeral and muscular.
Amid paintings, a harpoon-sculpture and altered book texts, Tony de los Reyes flips a 31-star American flag, which dates to circa 1851. That's a year after California joined the Union, sea-to-shining-sea, and the year Herman Melville published "Moby-Dick," his epic sea-faring tale of obsession on nature's whiteness. The flag's symbolic colors are replaced by watery swirls of black and white, evoking a turbulent run-up to the Civil War.
Anna Boyiazis' documentary photographs of AIDS orphans in sub-Saharan Africa compose lyrical images of love, loss and human fragility. As the pandemic's 30th anniversary arrives, the pictures also mark time.
Dont Rhine, working with a sound-art collective, orchestrated John Cage-like "listening tours" in which small groups were instructed to briefly visit a place without speaking, then report back on what they heard. There's not much to look at in the gallery; however, playing against a very loud society in which everyone clamors to be heard, a paean to the virtues of listening is worth, well, hearing.
Soo Kim makes a not-unrelated admonition about the value of seeing through a forest of visual clutter. Parts of her large landscape photographs have been neatly excised with a razor blade, mingling real and depicted shadows.
Less satisfactory are the skillfully drafted yet prosaic commercial icons -- Tony Tiger, Charlie Tuna, a Kool-Aid grin -- painted in tattoo-like markings by Mark Dean Veca. Their sense of rotting decay is held too much in check by pretty fields of flat, decorative colors. Those colors are said to have socially relevant sources, such as the mercury base of the vermilion in the Charlie Tuna work, but it's a stretch with no visual payoff.
And Yong Soon Min's room-size video installation projects images over vinyl letters on the floor, documenting email exchanges that often concern the difficulty of communication. Nearby, a split-screen video monitor plays fragments of what appear to be television soap operas. The context is far too obscure to hold interest, though, while the scale of the projection dilutes the whole.
Municipal Art Gallery, Barnsdall Park, 4800 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, (323) 644-6269, through July 3. Closed Mon through Wed. www.lamag.org
For the record, 7:57 a.m. June 12: An earlier version on this post incorrectly listed Municipal Art Gallery in the credits for all photos.