Linda Vallejo “Keepin’ it Brown”
bG gallery, Santa Monica, CA
by Lawrence Gipe
Art and Cake LA
Los Angeles, CA
September 30, 2017
Although political, “The Brown Dot Project” exudes the zen-like chill factor of Agnes Martin. The entire suite has a charming, “loving hands at home” quality in its tactile simplicity. The visual appeal of each pattern collides skillfully with the statistical backstory – transporting the viewer from abstraction to the realm of activist art reality. The designs that Vallejo constructs from all this data, although ritualistic in feeling, are not tied to any specific meaning. While “48.3%” deals with the overall Latino population of LA, perhaps the more revealing works are smaller pieces that address the percentage of Latinos working in various occupations. An example close to home would be “National Latino Artists, 9.12%”, a typically small percentage, which Vallejo fashions into a pattern of brown dots in the shape of an easel.
Vallejo’s press release promises a “beautifully brown body of work” and her contribution to the Getty’s PST: LA/LA series at bG gallery in Bergamot Station does not disappoint. “Keepin it Brown” features 45 works including “The Brown Dot Project” as well as a dynamic series called “Make ‘em All Mexican” which uses the strategy of changing white cultural icons into brown ones. Of course, these bodies of work function very differently on a visual level – but both question how class and color delineates our interpretation of culture.
In the end, Vallejo’s “Keepin it Brown” keeps it real, in the most positive, amusing and heart-felt way.