Echo Location at Eastside International
Curated by Lisa C. Soto
Written by Lorraine Heitzman
Through March 18th
Born out of a series of artist talks hosted by guest curator Lisa C. Soto, the current show at Eastside International, Echo Location is a compendium of work that is intended to relate to the concept of community. Most of the exhibiting artists have already participated in Soto’s “Conversations By Artists for Artists” in her Inglewood studio, a series of twelve talks created to foster dialogue among artists and the community. The experience so inspired Soto that she invited these artists, including herself, to show their work together, organized around common threads that were voiced during the talks. Only one artist involved in “Conversations…” did not participate in the exhibit and there are three remaining talks left. Community could infer or reference location, neighborhood or the environment, either locally or further afield. A looping video of the original artist talks is included at ESXL as a reference point while the artists included paintings, sketches, photographs, sculptures, videos, prints, installations and a performance.
While some work is very literally about community and some are clearly metaphorical, others hold a very tenuous connection to the idea. The unifying theme is often difficult to intuit and the lack of an apparent common denominator weakens the show somewhat. However, this does not distract from any artwork that is compelling in its own right and there are many pieces that stand out as thought provoking examples.
Take for example the video Rimpau (Pink Lemonade) by Lisa Diane Wedgeworth that references a particular place. Wedgeworth narrates a riveting story, ostensibly about her own childhood, in a voice-over paired with the image of an apartment building. The anonymous apartment that we presume is related to the narrative allows the viewer to focus on the artist’s voice and imagine the story playing out within these walls. The contrast between the bland exterior and the increasingly threatening situation is well conceived with both elements contributing to the emotional arc of the story. The video grounds Rimpau to a specific place and even though the imagery is rather vague, it is memorable.
Cindy Rehm’s Virgin/Whore explores the too often anonymous status of women in society as personae non gratae. In a series of collages printed in a grid onto micro suede fabric, each collage features a woman’s head usurped by either a mirror or veil, thwarting her ability to communicate. The individual portraits hide their faces and their thoughts as the mirrors symbolically reflect the viewer and the veils obscure their identities. What little we glean from their portraits is through their postures or the glimpse of an eye. Rehm’s beautifully crafted black and white collages translate well onto the soft fabric, suggesting that shrouds may be as seductive as they are dangerous. Rehm’s work is not rooted in any one place; instead it is concerned with a psychological space and the landscape is the terrain of feminist thought.
In other noteworthy work, Kysa Johnson’s three paintings of subatomic decay patterns are intricate and delicate interpretations of event displays that could only recently be detected through computer generated programs. These abstracted paintings, while referencing unimaginably small activities, are very intimate and convey some of the mysterious nature of physics in a tangible manner. Johnson, by looking at the microscopic world and searching for the universal, succeeds in conveying her wonder.
The fostering of artist communities is a valuable undertaking in a city as large and disparate as Los Angeles. Eastside International is committed to this idea and Lisa C. Soto is a welcome contributor with her artist conversations and shows such as Echo Location. In addition to the work currently on display, Soto has also scheduled artist talks at ESXLA. The show is up through March 18.
The following artists are included in the show: Amitis Motevalli, Andy Moses, Cindy Rehm, Duane Paul, Glen Wilson, Isabelle Lutterodt, Jamaal Tolbert, John K. Chan, Kelly Berg, Kimberly Morris, Kysa Johnson, Kyungmi Shin, Lisa C Soto, Lisa Diane Wedgeworth, Lita Alburquerque, Martin Durazo, Michael Massenburg, Nery Gabriel Lemus, Raksha Parekh, Selwyn Hinds, Todd Gray, Virginia Broersma, Zeal Harris.
Thank you for the article Lorraine Heitzman on the exhibition I curated “echo location” about primarily community and as you said place. I need to make an important correction, there are 2 artists per talk. The 22 artists as well as myself have or will all participate in my series of 12 Conversations by artists for artists – there are 3 left (there was only 1 out of the 24 total artists that did not participate in the exhibition). Thank you for considering correcting your article as “Conversations …” is the whole premise of the exhibition, hence community.