WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA – Artist Ruben Esparza wanted to do something different: curate an art exhibition featuring Latino artists of all persuasions. queer, gay, lesbian, trans, gender non-conforming, plain ol’ bi…you get the idea. That’s what the “x” in Latinx is for: however any of the Latino artists choose to define themselves.
Esparza applied for a grant with the City of West Hollywood’s Arts and Culture Department. And got it.
The result is Queer Califas: LA Latinx Art, what the City of West Hollywood’s website says is part of the Getty initiative Pacific Standard Time: Latin America & Latino Art in Los Angeles, “with special thematic programming called WEHO ARTES.”
With the grand opening this evening, I caught up with Garza this afternoon as he put the final touches on the exhibition, taping little white cards with little black letters on them to the wall (using blue painter’s tape), remembering he needed to print out a price list for would-be art collectors – and perhaps most important, getting his skirt ready.
“Find somebody that loves you, not somebody to love” Esparza told me the sentence, in Spanish, silkscreened onto his skirt means. Those same words appear in a similar piece of clothing worn by a model in a photograph on display by Manuel Rodriguez (aka Sad Boy) . Rodriguez gave Esparza his own skirt to wear at tonight's opening.
Esparza wanted an eclectic show, one featuring photographs, collage, drawing, painting, mixed media three-dimensional pieces and more. He succeeded.
While the space at West Hollywood’s Plummer Park is humble, not some fancy Westside gallery, and some of the pieces are not quite fully-realized, quite a number of them are worthy of attention.
For instance, Gregorio Davila’s “We’wha,” a spray paint stencil evokes the pop art power of a Warhol crossed with Native American iconography. Roy Martinez created “Untitled,” an odd-yet-elegant execution featuring a bouquet of faux roses in chains hanging upside down against a wall. (Your guess is as good as mine, but it is captivating.) And Ben Cuevas really, really likes yarn. His “Totes Queer” and “Not Masc For Masc But Yass for Yass” transform what we think of as a grandmother’s pastime into postmodern commentary on sexting and modern speech.
Queer Califas: LA Latinx Art runs through December 9 at Plummer Park in West Hollywood and is open 1-7pm, Friday through Sunday.
NOTE: the prior version of this article incorrectly named the artist of the Untitled roses and chains piece.