Linda Vallejo: Brown Belongings
L.A. Plaza de Cultura y Artes
501 North Main Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012
Exhibition dates: June 1, 2019-January 13, 2020
VIP reception: June 1, 2019, 3-5 pm
Opening reception: June 1, 2019, 5-7 pm
A 140 PAGE exhibition catalog with scholarly essays and reproductions of over 100 artworks in the exhibition and will be available for purchase. Essayists include by curator, Erin M. Curtis, art historian Karen Mary Davalos, professor and chair of Chicano and Latino Studies at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, artist and scholar Michelle L. Lopez, and curator and writer William Moreno. Essential quotes by Shana Nys Dambrot, art critic with LA Weekly and Artillery Magazine and Peter Frank, art critic with The Huffington Post and Adjunct Senior Curator at Riverside Art Museum, while Pablo Aguilar and Aimee Santos provide additional photographs.
LA Plaza Executive Director: John Echeveste
Senior Curator: Erin M. Curtis, Ph.D.
Associate Curator: Mariah Shevchuk
Curatorial Assistant: Esperanza Sanchez, M.A.
Press inquiries: Abelardo de la Pena Jr. – firstname.lastname@example.org
LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes announces its forthcoming exhibition, Linda Vallejo: Brown Belongings, a collection of new and recent work from the Los Angeles-based, Chicana artist whose career spans more than forty years. For nearly a decade, Vallejo has explored the vast and varied meanings of the color brown in her art. LA Plaza will exhibit new works by Vallejo alongside selections from several recent series and subseries of artworks that examine brownness and Latinx identity, including Make ‘Em All Mexican, The Brown Oscars, The Brown Dot Project, Datos Sagrados, and Cultural Enigma.
An 140 page exhibition catalog featuring scholarly reflections on Vallejo’s work will also be available. LA Plaza’s first solo exhibition dedicated to the work of a Latina and staged simultaneously in all of its temporary exhibition galleries, Linda Vallejo: Brown Belongings consists of more than 125 of Vallejo’s paintings, drawings, and sculptures, and will examine how race and color, as expressed through images and data, affect our perception and experience of culture. At the same time, it asks how embracing brownness can allow us to creatively question, deflect, and resist stereotypes of and assumptions about Latinx people.
Works from different series will be combined in thematic groupings throughout LA Plaza’s galleries, allowing the visitor to see ideas that resonate across Vallejo’s body of work. Interactive elements will invite visitors to reflect on and share aspects of their own identities. A series of public programs, including artist-led exhibition walkthroughs, panel discussions with the authors of the exhibition catalog and Chicana/o artists, and more, will invite visitors to engage directly with the exhibition themes.
“In a career that spans more than 40 years, Linda Vallejo has distinguished herself as one of the most thoughtful and thought-provoking Latinx artists of our time,” said John Echeveste, LA Plaza CEO. “This large presentation of her work will delight and amuse many while confusing and challenging others. This dichotomy makes her work so interesting and important, and we are presenting it at LA Plaza to spark dialogue about the past, present, and future of the Latinx community.”
During her more than forty-year career, Vallejo has worked across a variety of media—including screen printing, painting, drawing, and sculpture—and has been featured in numerous exhibitions and publications. Her work is held in the permanent collections of the East Los Angeles College Vincent Price Museum, Los Angeles; the National Museum of Mexican Art, Chicago; the Carnegie Art Museum, Oxnard, CA; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the University of California, Santa Barbara California Multicultural and Ethnic Archives; and the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center.
The title Brown Belongings touches many significant points for me. I have always stated that these art works are autobiographical. As a young adult studying and living in Spain and throughout the US, I found myself searching for a place to belong. It was when I returned to Los Angeles to become involved in the Chicano and Indigenous communities that I found my place, artistically, intellectually and culturally. Through Make ‘Em All Mexican I continued my travels by collecting “belongings” and painting them brown to represent my American cultural identity. Finally, I “long” to find a visual language that will open a dialogue about how we see ourselves, how others see us, and the joy that we can find in our differences and the knowledge and understandings that we share together.
Cultural Enigma also includes portrait works on paper. The subjects are taken from and in homage to important US and European twentieth-century portrait painters, such as David Hockney, Alice Neel, and Philip Pearlstein, among others. These seated figures appear with no other cultural insignia other than their brown skin.
My most recent series of works Cultural Enigma broadens the focus to address not only the politics of color and class, but also what we refer to as culture. These works ask whether culture exists and, if so, why it is important in our lives, how we present ourselves culturally, and what symbols and signs we choose to signify our cultural presence, if any.I call the abstract paintings “Symbols and Signs” reference a variety of historical and contemporary source materials, “cultural Rorschach tests.” Viewers are invited to identify what they see in the images to reveal their cultural knowledge and perspective.
Brown Belongings Catalog Excerpts
Erin M. Curtis
Linda Vallejo: Brown Belongings will examine how race and color, as expressed through images and data, affect our perception and experience of culture. At the same time, it asks how embracing brownness can allow us to creatively question, deflect, and resist stereotypes of and assumptions about Latinx people.
Karen Mary Davalos, Chicano and Latino Studies Professor at University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
Excerpt from her essay “Spectacular Brownness in the Twenty-first Century”
Her focus on cultural objectification is not intended to essentialize or exclude, but to record awareness and propel conversation for the future.
Art advisor and curator
Excerpt from his essay “Culture as Color Wheel”
Vallejo’s accomplishment is to successfully integrate these artistic elements into a treatise on current affairs – neither prognosticating nor offering an preferred outcome.
Educator and community activist
Excerpt from her essay “Predecessor, Mentor, Friend…”
The spiritual components and ancestral roots are present in Linda’s work yet she uses universal cultural signifiers such as the tree and earth in her work. In this way her work is able to appeal to a broader audience.
Shana Nys Dambrot
Critic and curator
Excerpt from her essay on “Datos Sagrados”
By taking a simple mathematical process that connects to her own experience, Vallejo has generated a rarefied language of mark-making that is only brown paint on paper, and yet comprises a wealth of holistic meaning from the deeply personal to the political, spiritual, philosophical, and psychological.
Critic and curator
Excerpt from his essay on The Brown Dot Project
[suggested that Vallejo offer her art] if not as a tool for change, then at least as an examination of the factors that necessitate such change, a passionate argument guided not only by reason, but by humor, craft, and beauty.
Calendar of Panels, Discussions, and Walk-Throughs
Looking Through Linda Vallejo’s Personal, Mexican-American Lens
Thursday, July 18, 2019, 7 p.m.
Discover the artist’s personal perspective, points of inspiration, and art making process. Vallejo will discuss how her artistic practices claim cultural capital for all people of color.
Decoding Linda Vallejo’s Brown Belongings
Thursday, August 15, 2019, 7 p.m.
The writers of the exhibition’s companion publication share their insights including Karen Mary Davalos, Professor of Chicano and Latino Studies at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities; Michelle L. Lopez, lecturer in the Department of Chicana(o) and Latina(o) Studies at the California State University, Los Angeles; and William Moreno, art advisor, dealer, curator, and writer. Moderated by Pilar Tompkins Rivas, Director of the Vincent Price Art Museum.
Thursday, October 17, 2019, 7 p.m.
Linda Vallejo’s colleagues in the Chicanx art world share stories inspired by culture, identity, and community activism. Artist guests will include David Botello, Barbara Carrasco, and Willie Herrón. Moderated by Betty Avila, Executive Director, Self Help Graphics and Art, Inc.
The Art of Data
Thursday, November 14, 2019, 7 p.m.
Dr. David Hayes-Bautista, Professor of Medicine and Director of the Center for the Study of Latino Health and Culture at the UCLA School of Medicine, challenges narratives about diversity, race, and health by rigorous use of quantitative data sets. Utilizing similar data, Linda Vallejo creates thought-provoking art that questions stereotypes and empowers Latinx communities. These two visionaries will exchange ideas about the past, present, and future of the Latinx community.