Two Mexican artists unveil new work at Best Practice
Speaker 1: (00:00)
You're listening to K PBS midday edition. I'm Jade Henman in our weekend arts preview. We have some intriguing ensemble music and lots of new visual art from border artists, including an exhibition of painted renditions of celebrity mugshots. Joining me with all the details as K PBS arts editor and producer Julia Dixon Evans. Julia. Welcome. Hi
Speaker 2: (00:21)
Jade. Thanks for having me first
Speaker 1: (00:23)
Up. Let's talk about two new exhibitions opening up at best practice gallery and Logan Heights, both by Mexican artists who are longtime partners and collaborators. Tell us about
Speaker 2: (00:33)
Them. Yeah. One is a work by Mauricio Munos and these are paintings that they based on celebrity mugshots. And then there's also a video installation, a separate exhibition by Andrew Roberts. Roberts work is informed by this pretty unusual connection that his family has on both sides. Both of his grandfathers, one in America and one in Mexico were involved in arms manufacturing during the Vietnam war, working with the same company in different countries. The Mexican grandfather opened a factory of his own only for it to be completely lost to fire. And the American grandfather, after he fought in the war in Vietnam, he came home with severe PTSD and he burned down his own home. So Roberts is drawing on a lot of family trauma and connects it to these really bigger issues of interventionist policies and the arms relationship between us and Mexico using video game software. He rendered 3d models of his grandfather's house and his grandfather's that burned. And he created this two channel video work with narration for that show.
Speaker 1: (01:49)
Mm. And I wanna hear more about those celebrity mug shots and why that was important to turn into artwork. Well,
Speaker 2: (01:56)
These are pretty incredible. And for me, what was actually kind of unsettling was how instantly rec recognizable these paintings are. Despite the fact that Munia uses really thick brushstrokes. These paintings are like abstract swirls of color and texture, but they're still unmistakable there's Paris, Hilton's mugshot, there's Michael Jackson and Justin Bieber. And what Munia is trying to get at here is the way we have this of hunger for what they refer to as celebrity misery,
Speaker 3: (02:28)
I found like the roots of today's obsession and eagerness to consume and see like the mystery of the celebrities. It's almost like, um, Boris thing, see like always really like suffering or seeing them in some kind of trouble or they they're always arrested for, you know, driving under the influence or possession or, or some, something like that. That at end, all these celebrities just get away with whatever they
Speaker 2: (03:03)
They did. And you can see these works during the opening reception for both exhibitions on Saturday from five to eight or during best practices, open gallery hours. They're located at bread and salt and Logan Heights. And they're open Tuesday, you through Sunday from 11 to four, and there's a lot to see at BRNs salt this weekend. So it is worth popping in Roman de salvo has just reinstalled his 2019 tree sculpture that was originally constructed inside the Timkin and the San Diego art price show is also closing this weekend. So it's your last chance to see that on Saturday also, Maggie, she is doing a performance hier edible installation called scape, but definitely check out those best practice exhibitions.
Speaker 1: (03:49)
That's Mexico based artists, Maio Munos and Andrew Roberts on view at best practice from Saturday through February 12th, let's stay with visual art up in Oceanside. There is a new exhibition of photography by Tijuana based artist. Andres Hernandez. Tell us about
Speaker 2: (04:05)
This. Yeah, this is called crying on the blue line trolley, and it is such an evocative idea. It's analog photography, some collage and some poetry and video works as well. All based around the landscapes and the arch are at this route between her home in Tijuana and in San Diego using public transit. There's a lot of bridges there's overpasses, but also the natural boundaries too, like the estuaries and the fields. And this is all really intimate and vulnerable work to. You can view it at hill street country club at an afternoon, reception on Saturday from one to four masks are required and they're only letting in groups six at a time for short 15 minute viewings. So after that, it's viewable by appointment and you can easily make a reservation for that online
Speaker 1: (04:55)
That's Andre's Hernandez, solo exhibition at the hill street country club, which will be open Saturday through February 28th. Now for some music, the sound on festival turns for their 14th year with surreal reality. What can we expect?
Speaker 2: (05:08)
Yeah, this is a joint venture of San Diego, new music and the Athena music and arts library. It kicks off last night and has performances tonight and Saturday night. And each show features a pretty broad range of what's considered new music compositions, including the winning selections from sound on's call for scores from 2020, it's all performed by the ensemble in residents that standing on new music, that's called noise conducted by Robert Zeman. There's flu cello, percussion, piano, and guitar, and looking at Saturday evening's performance in particular, I'm drawn to this brand new work for electric guitar. That sounds like it's for a full orchestra. This is by Anthony tan called revealing the divide Masks are required and the Athenas Jacob's music room in LA Jolla will only be at 70% CAPA or less. And if you can't make the show, I've put a few streaming links in the article where you can listen to more of the tan composition and some of the other works in the program on your own time. The
Speaker 1: (06:29)
Sound on festival has concerts tonight and Saturday at 7:30 PM. And one more music event, Liz salon day music performs a concert Sunday afternoon at the LA JOA women's club. Tell us about this.
Speaker 2: (06:42)
Yeah, let's start with listening to Mozart's piano quartet in E flat major,
Speaker 2: (07:02)
And this is a beautiful work it's for piano quartet. So for piano and three strings, and this was a form that Mozart was particularly good at. He kind of spearheaded the popularity of the, of the form, the piano quartet, and lace Andies. The is a chamber performance group. That's new in town, just this last year and their structures intimate. There's no stages. And the concerts are kicked off with a musicologist talk. This one will be new VI meta, who you may have heard at the symphony as well. They'll play them outside as well as works by Rossini and Beethoven. They usually also have a champagne reception, but due to the current COVID surge, they're creating these fancy little take home snack boxes. That way guests will be able to keep their masks on the entire time at the performance LA
Speaker 1: (07:52)
And LDE mus takes place Sunday at 4:00 PM at the LA Jolla woman's club, given the uncertainty of the, the current COVID surge and the possibility of event cancellations. Be sure to check with event organizers before attending for details on these and more arts events or to sign up for Julia's weekly KPBS arts newsletter, go to kpbs.org/arts. I've been speaking with KPBS arts editor and producer Julia Dixon Evans. Julia, thank
Speaker 2: (08:19)
You. Thanks so much, Jade. Have a good weekend. You too.
Two Tijuana-born artists based in Mexico City are set to open solo exhibitions at Best Practice gallery in Logan Heights this weekend.
Andrew Roberts' video-game influenced digital installation is called "A house on fire is a ghost, a factory on fire is a specter." The work connects family history and trauma with the arms industry.
Mauricio Muñoz's exhibition, "A thirst for misery" digs into the idea of "celebrity misery," transforming mugshots and paparazzi snaps into paintings.
Longtime partners, Muñoz and Roberts co-direct Deslave, a curatorial project and — up until the pandemic — a former gallery space in Tijuana. Deslave was founded to explore the emerging talent in the region and share work with art fairs and international audiences. They've since decentralized the project, and relocated to Mexico City, where they're better able to share their work and the art they curate with collectors for now.
Two grandfathers, two countries, one arms industry
Roberts, who was born in Tijuana, said that the work in "A house on fire is a ghost, a factory on fire is a specter" was inspired by two fires, and the links between his paternal and maternal grandfathers, one American and one Mexican.
"When [my paternal grandfather] was 18 and 19, he worked for a corporation called Remington, that is an arms manufacturing corporation. And I found that my maternal grandfather, my Mexican grandfather also worked for the same corporation in Cuernavaca, a city that is close to Mexico City. He worked exactly on the same gear that my paternal grandfather was fighting with in the Vietnam War," Roberts said.
After the war, the parallels continued, and trauma and fiery tragedy befell both men.
Roberts' maternal grandfather opened his own maquila in Tijuana, but it was lost to a fire. In America, after the paternal grandfather returned from the Vietnam War, he suffered from severe PTSD. Roberts said the grandfather dropped his family off in their California home and set it on fire. They all escaped, but the grandfather was institutionalized for the rest of his life, and the family also lost everything to the fire.
The format of this exhibition is also rooted in his Mexican grandfather's factory: Roberts first became interested in 3D modeling when working in his grandfather's new factory in Tijuana, and as a teen, Roberts would help with anything computer-related.
The video game-influence in his work is also a representation of the links between the arms industry and video games.
"It's almost impossible for me to separate the history of video games and the history of war technology because they are born from the same place," Roberts said.
The exhibition features two-channel videos made from 3D renderings of long-lost buildings: one that represents the house that his American grandfather burned down, and another for the Tijuana factory that also burned. The two-part video work is accompanied by narration that describes the relationship between Mexico and the United States in terms of the military-industrial complex. The narration is in both English and Spanish.
"A lot of my work deals with personal things, but they are more about trying to understand certain larger things, and this specific work — I found in both of my grandfather figures the perfect example to analyze how the arms industry works between Mexico and the U.S.," Roberts said. "I'm very interested in America's interventionist policies in other countries and how they manage geopolitical resources and the territory. For me, the arms industry is just a part to understand all those complex problems. And in my own family I found that dynamic in a very basic way."
A collective obsession with celebrity misery
Best Practice cofounder Joe Yorty said that the gallery constructed a temporary wall in the middle of the Best Practice space for the purpose of showing both exhibitions at the same time and allowing each exhibition to be distinct.
On the other side of the wall, Mauricio Muñoz will display a body of paintings they based on the idea of celebrity misery. The exhibition is called "A thirst for misery."
Each painting is based upon a photograph of a celebrity caught at their worst. Muñoz said it's a fascination that seemed to blossom in the 2000s, when celebrity "misery" was at the forefront of pop culture in a way they hadn't observed it before. Muñoz referred to it as a sort of breakthrough — with the likes of Paris Hilton or the Kardashians constantly in the public discourse, and sensationalist celebrity and paparazzi news sites like PerezHilton.com or TMZ on the rise.
"I found the roots of today's obsession and eagerness to consume and see the misery of the celebrities," Muñoz said. "It's almost like a voyeuristic thing to see all these celebrities suffering, or seeing them in some kind of trouble."
Muñoz painted this specific body of work all within the last year, and each painting is based upon a mugshot.
These images are startling in their familiarity — it's unsettling and slightly implicating that these mugshots have been so burned into the collective consciousness that they're recognizable after Muñoz's brushstrokes transform the image into an almost abstract, textured swirl of color.
It's also an intimate act — Muñoz spent anywhere from eight hours to a day and a half painting each work, staring at the celebrity while they're arguably at some sort of rock bottom.
"But in the end, all these celebrities just get away with whatever they did," Muñoz added.
"A thirst for misery" by Mauricio Muñoz and "A house on fire is a ghost, a factory on fire is a specter" by Andrew Roberts will be on view at Best Practice gallery in the Bread and Salt Complex Jan. 8 through Feb. 12, 2022. An opening reception will take place Saturday, Jan. 8 from 5-8 p.m., with regular gallery hours Tuesday through Sunday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
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