What to see in Los Angeles: Vincent Price Art Museum director Pilar Tompkins Rivas on shows up now [posted 1/8/19]

“I’m always one for opening up the narrative around art history and questioning how the canon is defined.”

“Judithe Hernández: A Dream Is the Shadow of Something Real”
through February 17, 2019
Museum of Latin American Art

through March 17, 2019
Los Angeles County Museum of Art

“Rituals of Labor and Engagement: Carolina Caycedo and Mario Ybarra Jr.”
through February 25, 2019
The Huntington

Among the exhibitions up now in Los Angeles, one of the more important is the Judithe Hernández show at the Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA). Hernández was a major figure in the Chicano Art and Los Angeles mural movements in the 1970s, and a member of the collective Los Four. (In 1973 Los Four—Carlos Almaraz, Beto de la Rocha, Frank Romero, and Gilbert “Magu” Luján—became the first Chicano artists to exhibit at LACMA; Hernández joined the group in 1974 and participated in all their subsequent projects.)

Hernández later moved to Chicago and remained there until moving back to L.A. in 2010. She produced the artwork for the downtown Santa Monica metro station (L.A. Sonata, 2016), and she has a 70-foot-high mural in the works for the La Plaza development on Olvera Street that will have a dramatic effect on the city’s landscape. The show at MOLAA, featuring Hernández’s recent pastel drawings, is especially significant, as it marks the museum’s first solo exhibition of a U.S. Latina artist.

Judithe Hernández, La Santa Desconocida (de la serie Juárez) [The Unknown Saint (from the Juárez series)], 2017, pastel on paper, 30 x 88 inches. Courtesy of the artist.
Another show at the top of my list is the “Outliers” exhibition at LACMA, which focuses on moments in American art history when the work of self-taught artists had particular influence on the avant-garde. It includes art from both inside and outside the mainstream art world. I’m always one for opening up the narrative around art history and questioning how the canon is defined.

Marsden Hartley, Adelard the Drowned, Master of the “Phantom,” c. 1938–39, oil on board, 28 × 22 inches. The Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, bequest of Hudson D. Walker from the Ione and Hudson D. Walker Collection. In “Outliers,” Los Angeles County Museum of Art, November 18, 2018–March 17, 2019.

The show on now at the Huntington in Pasadena relates to that idea. The museum invited Carolina Caycedo, a Colombian artist living in L.A. (whose work appeared recently in “Conjuro de Ríos,” a fantastic exhibition at the National University of Colombia, Bogotá), and Los Angeles native Mario Ybarra Jr., an important artist and educator, to make new work in response to the institution’s library, art collection, and botanical gardens. (Full disclosure: The Huntington asked the Vincent Price Art Museum to curate the artists for this project.) Caycedo and Ybarra were given full access to the Huntington’s holdings, which are quite Eurocentric, and the pieces they made speak to the lack of representation of people of color within the archive. It’s a small show but very powerful.

Mario Ybarra Jr., Go Big, 2018, etching, 22 x 15 inches, ed. 10/10. Courtesy of the artist.