LOS ANGELES — Based 50 years in the past within the East Los Angeles storage of Franciscan nun Sister Karen Boccalero, Self Assist Graphics & Artwork (SHG) established itself within the ensuing a long time as an important and vibrant community-focused arts house and printmaking studio. Now, a sequence of exhibitions staged over the approaching months will contextualize the group’s historical past and legacy, delving deep into completely different facets of its cultural and social resonance.
The inaugural present Marking an Era: Celebrating Self Help Graphics & Art at 50 opened final month on the Laguna Artwork Museum, one of many first establishments to amass a major variety of prints made by artists at SHG. In 1992, the museum bought 170 works spanning the primary decade of the SHG’s Professional Printmaking Program (PPP). Curated by Rochelle Steiner, the exhibition options 78 works, one by every artist within the acquisition. Moderately than set up it chronologically, Steiner grouped the works thematically, with unfastened sections dedicated to hybridity and immigration, artwork historical past, the physique, portraiture, conflict, AIDS, and urbanism.
Self Assist Graphics & Artwork emerged alongside the Chicano Motion of the early Seventies as an essential hub for Latinx and Chicanx artists at a time once they had been nonetheless combating for art-world visibility. In 1974, SHG introduced arts schooling to the streets with the Barrio Mobile Art Studio, a van providing printmaking workshops in native communities. The earlier yr, they started an annual Día de los Muertos Celebration, bringing artwork, music, and efficiency collectively in recognition of the vacation with Indigenous roots that’s extensively noticed in Mexico and elsewhere in Latin America.
Though printmaking has all the time been a central focus of the group, SHG wished to create a extra formal program, and in 1983, the PPP was born. Yearly, SHG hosts two ateliers for 5 to seven artists who work with a grasp printer to create serigraphs and monoprints. The initiative is ongoing, with greater than 2,000 editions produced to this point. Marking an Period highlights a dynamic interval within the early years of the PPP, showcasing the experimental spirit and technical progress that came about over the course of the last decade.
The works within the present embody a outstanding range and breadth. Some categorical a boisterous power, corresponding to “Cruising Turtle Island” (1986) by Gilbert “Magu” Luján and Yreina Cervántez’s “Danza Ocelotl/Ocelotl Dance” (1983), which each reinterpret Indigenous themes. Different artists make use of photo-based strategies, as with Jean LaMarr’s “Some Form of Buckaroo” (1990), which depicts fighter jets streaking throughout a purple sky above a brown-skinned cowboy, and Elizabeth Rodriguez’s stark untitled 1986 physique print serigraph. An edgy, postmodern-Punk aesthetic is seen in a number of works: John Valadez’s untitled 1985 screenprint in vibrating orange, purple, and inexperienced; Barbara Carrasco’s cartoonish 1984 “Self Portrait”; and Victor Ochoa’s humorous depiction of literal fractured identities, “Border Bingo/Lotería Fronteriza” (1987).
Marvella Muro, director of Creative Applications at SHG, emphasised that the group has additionally served as a useful resource for a broader inhabitants of LA artists and folks of colour. “It has empowered Chicanx communities, however not solely,” Muro informed Hyperallergic. “That’s what I wish to elevate. It’s a multi-cultural house.”
Steiner added that it was essential to border the present within the context of different formative print homes within the area, corresponding to Gemini GEL and Tamarind Press. “There’s an entire different story right here concerning the historical past of printmaking in LA, of which SHG is an anchor level,” she mentioned.
SHG is within the midst of a multi-million dollar renovation to their present 112-year-old constructing, purchased in 2018, and is working from distant places of work throughout building; nevertheless, the group continues to be working packages just like the Barrio Cellular Artwork Studio, Día de los Muertos Celebration, and an upcoming biennial printmaking summit to be held on the Vincent Worth Artwork Museum on September 9. Whereas the constructing is being up to date and retrofitted, these 4 offsite exhibitions provide a possibility to revisit and reassess its historical past on its fiftieth anniversary.
The second exhibition within the sequence, Within the Coronary heart of It, opening on the Lily Tomlin/Jane Wagner Cultural Arts Heart on the Los Angeles LGBT Heart on November 18, focuses on the neighborhood of LGBTQ+ artists who’ve labored with and thrived at SHG. Sister Karen, who studied underneath Sister Corita Kent, an influential and progressive nun in LA who fused artwork and activism, based SHG alongside artists Frank Hernández, Antonio Ibáñez, and Carlos Bueno, the latter two of whom had been longtime companions who typically signed every others’ work.
“I’d do some fairly radical stuff, and he or she would simply nod her head like, ‘oh, brother,’” mentioned curator Ruben Esparza, who was invited to create a sequence of prints at SHG within the mid-Nineties. The exhibition will characteristic about 20 artists together with Ibáñez, Bueno, Teddy Sandoval, Joey Terrill, Laura Aguilar, and Miguel Angel Reyes.
Los de Abajo/Monográfico, the third present, will deal with a collective that shaped within the basement of SHG within the late ’90s. Members together with Victor Rosas, Marianne Sadowski, Kay Brown, Don Newton, and Poli Marichal mixed their prints to create large-scale collaborations. The exhibition, working from March 2 to April 27 on the Lengthy Seaside Metropolis School Gallery, speaks to the communal side of the house and the connections it fostered between artists.
The ultimate present, titled The Re-membering Era, will spotlight the synergy between artwork and the East LA music scene that came about within the mid-Nineties. Throughout this era, musicians and bands together with Quetzal, Ozomatli, and the Aztlan Underground shaped a brand new motion that drew from Chicano historical past and tradition, impressed by the Zapatista wrestle for Indigenous rights in Mexico. Curated by musician and historian Quetzal Flores, the exhibition will characteristic archival works alongside new prints being created in the course of the present PPP atelier that pairs musicians from this era with visible artists. Will probably be held on the Vincent Worth Artwork Museum at East Los Angeles School subsequent spring.
Whereas these 4 exhibitions provide historic views on Self Assist Graphics & Artwork, in addition they present views of a company that’s nonetheless alive and generative.
“These works look as recent at the moment as they did then. These are points that we’re nonetheless enthusiastic about, it’s completely related terrain,” Steiner mentioned. “We should always have a look at them with wide-open eyes.”