On Saturday, May 24 2023 from 3 - 5 pm, the Art Division Gallery held an opening for new work by students in the Spring 2023 classes. All of the work in the show was created in class, with pieces from Abstract Painting, Drawing with the Brush, Drawing, Bookbinding, Printmaking, Advanced Printmaking, Photography, Collaborative Painting and Adobe Illustrator. The gallery and the printmaking studio were filled with students, family members and people from the community, all admiring the art and enjoying the chance to talk about their artistic journeys.
In the Paint Studio next door, students from the Film class held a public screening of their work, which ranged from documentaries to narrative pieces. The audience also had the opportunity to appreciate the musical compositions by students in the Music Production and Advanced Music Production classes. A standing-room-only crowd applauded every student’s work.
Meanwhile, in the gallery, Art Division student Essence Petty hosted a Fashion Swap, inviting all students to bring in their gently used clothing and shoes. Many students dropped off clothing, then stayed to build a summer wardrobe of new (to them) pieces. Bookbinding instructor Joel Freeman was so inspired that he created a book of clothing by putting each item in the photocopier, making giant color high-resolution copies, then attaching the pages at one end. Even newcomers to Art Division were drawn in by the fashion offerings, with one man, a newcomer to the community, scoring a superb pair of green corduroy overall hotpants.
Of course, Art Division’s in-house Mixologist Ellie Herman was on hand, offering a choice of fresh house-made Mocktails: a spicy grapefruit ginger fizz and a crisp, sweet No-jito. Though Ellie did not intend to participate in the Fashion Swap, having contributed nothing and frankly having very little fashion sense, she could not resist going home with a cropped fluffy cow-print jacket that will likely cause her to be the envy of all.
The Student Showcase will be open through June 10, 2023.
Art Division in the Sequoias
On April 14-16, four Art Division students set off for a weekend in the woods near Three Rivers to paint, sketch, walk and enjoy some quiet, immersive time in nature. The trip was part of a longterm collaboration between Art Division and Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park that will culminate in a series of artworks to raise awareness of the effect of climate change on the sequoias. Art Division students Essence Petty, Blaine Wells-West, Piper Kinion, and Raquel Rodriguez traveled to Three Rivers with Art Division staff members Cindy Ojeda, Nicole Berlanga, and Alina Kawai, where they stayed at the home of Denise Domergue in Three Rivers. The group bonded over family meals cooked by Nicole and Cindy, and enjoyed the outdoors when they weren't working on their project.
Throughout the weekend, the students spent their time closely studying the forest environment, enjoying the quiet, and doing plein air painting of their surroundings. On Saturday, the students learned more about the impact of the climate on the sequoia from Dr. Christy Brigham Chief of Resource Management and Science at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.
"It was great to hear her talk,” Piper said. “It was very informative both on the practical side and on the science side." They were particularly struck by the impact of climate change on the sequoias, with damage due to the 2021 fires, which burned for three months and killed between 1,330 to 2,380 large sequoias.”
Essence also really appreciated Dr. Brigham’s talk. "I learned a bit more about the impact of climate change on the sequoias. 20% of them are gone, which is crazy for our air quality," she said.
On Saturday night, they were joined for dinner by Erica Williams, Visual Information Specialist at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.
The students found the experience deeply inspiring for their project. Piper was struck by the dedication of Brigham and Williams, and the potential of art to change public opinion. "I’m taking Art History right now and we’re looking at protest posters,” they said. “ I know art can make a difference, art can bring people to consciousness, I hope to make something that’s visually compelling enough to get people to feel that."
The field trip also provided an opportunity for the students to bond with each other and enjoy nature."It was great to be somewhere different, to get out of the city and go someplace out in the woods,” Essence said. “The stars are really pretty. I took an outdoor shower at night, and I was looking at the Milky Way." Art Division Program Coordinator Nicole Berlanga also really enjoyed the trip. "What stood out was all the students,” she said. “I didn’t realize how valuable it was for them to be outside in nature and away from the city.It was really exciting to see how this project is about saving the sequoias but also how important nature is to the artists involved. And it was just really fun to hang out with everyone in a different environment."
The group, along with Art Division students Scar Maradiaga and Leslie Martinez, and Art Division Printmaking Instructor Victor Reyes, will continue working on the project through September 2023, culminating in a large-scale online public exhibition of their work by Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park later in 2023. This collaboration showcases the power of art to raise awareness and inspire change, while also highlighting the importance of nature for creative inspiration.
Art Division Graphic Designer Guillermo Perez is also working with Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park on a branding project, creating artwork and a logo for their tagline “Stand with Sequoias.”
On Saturday, April 8th, the Art Division library transformed into a social hub for the highly anticipated Mocktail Mixer. The event, which started at 4:30 pm, was open to all community members and promised "the freshest mocktails in town." Flyers scattered across the library and paint studio invited attendees to indulge in delicious beverages and engage in thought-provoking discussions about art and life in Los Angeles.
The Mocktail Mixer was an opportunity for Art Division students and staff to connect and unwind. Award-winning mixologist Ellie Herman, who by day serves as Art Division’s College and Career Coach, served as the mastermind behind the bar, creating bespoke, house-made specialties. The drink menu featured a creamy virgin pina colada and a sparkling hibiscus gem, both of which were a hit among the guests, causing Ellie to claim that she had won several more awards. Art Division student Luxe played a vital role in the success of the event, acting as the official taster and significantly improving the taste of the pina colada. In addition to their mixology contributions, Luxe kept the energy alive by curating the perfect playlist for the afternoon.
Students Eli Alejo, Jones Gutierrez, Gris Sanchez, Jenny Payan, Alexandra Gonzalez, Yearlin Itzep, Millie Ruiz, Merling Velasquez, Melissa Soriano, Jess Muñoz and Stephanie Cortez attended the Mocktail Mixer, accompanied by Art Division Program Coordinator Nicole Beranga and Special Programs Coordinator Luis Motta. Nicole played a crucial role in taste-testing the mocktails and keeping the conversation flowing. Luis arrived fashionably late, greeted with scattered applause. To break the ice, attendees discussed their dream lives, imagining where they would live and what they would do if they didn't have to work. The conversation quickly transitioned to the more serious topic of navigating life as young artists in Los Angeles. Many students expressed their eagerness to find a supportive artistic community, especially now that they were no longer in school.
Colectivé 41, Art Division's student-led artist’s group that centers work made by Black, Brown and Queer artists, took the opportunity to give a presentation about their work and the impact they aim to create. The passion and dedication exhibited by Colectivé 41 members inspired several guests to express interest in joining the collective. The Mocktail Mixer was such a success that Ellie finally had to shut off the lights to get everyone to leave. Several students appeared to be leaving the Art Division library with plans to continue the festivities at an afterparty.
The Mocktail Mixer proved to be a night filled with art, conversation, and connection, and may become a monthly event. The mixer's success is a testament to the ongoing commitment of the Art Division community to foster a supportive and inclusive environment for all those who dream of pursuing a life in the arts.
What’s the career pathway to becoming a graphic designer? Or an interior designer? Or a furniture designer? On Thursday, March 9, twelve Art Division students and staff members learned some answers to these questions and more when we walked three blocks down to visit Commune Design, a Los Angeles-based design studio with a reputation for holistic work across the fields of architecture, interior, graphic and product design.
Our group gathered in Commune’s conference room where, surrounded by images from one of the company’s current projects, we snacked on an exquisite chocolate-nut mixture designed just for Commune. There, the company’s founders, Roman Alonso and Steven Johanknecht, talked about their career pathways, both of which were surprisingly circuitous. Afterwards, several other Commune staff members talked about their career paths and answered student questions.
Students in the Art Division group were encouraged to learn that careers in design are often open to people with diverse professional backgrounds, and not exclusively those with degrees in design. “It was great to hear that real-world experience is really important on a career path,” Art Division student Leslie Martinez said. Art Division student Kristian Guerra, currently completing a degree in Graphic Design at Cal State Los Angeles, agreed. “It was really inspiring and nice to hear from designers and how they ended up where they are, as well as relieving and motivating to see them seek out local creatives from organizations and communities such as Art Division,” he said.
For Preston Alba, the staff member at Commune who coordinated our visit, that community outreach was important to their team. “We thoroughly enjoyed having Art Division visit our studio,” Preston said. “The students are curious and engaged and they have such an incredibly supportive faculty and alumni.”
After the meeting in the conference room, we took a guided tour of Commune’s studio, learning more about their unique, artisanal approach to design, which involves not only planning but actually creating and building furniture, fabric, door handles, dishware and more. Every aspect of a project is made with care, Roman Alonso told us, showing our group a set of plates whose color had been chosen after seven years of deliberation.
Our group was so delighted by the visit that nobody wanted to leave. Even after the tour, we stood outside on the doorstep, chatting excitedly about all that we’d learned. “Seeing their works, meeting their team, and seeing their office was really cool,” Kristian said. “Beyond professionally being interested in their internship opportunity for career development, I also felt welcomed. I would love to see and participate in other trips just like Commune.”
Preston Alba agreed. “Art Division has welcomed us into their community, and we can’t wait to find ways to work together,“ he said.
We are currently in conversation with Commune about creating a paid internship for an Art Division student at their studio.
Anima Animal Zine Project
When Art Division student Leslie Martinez spent the summer of 2022 as a Getty Marrow Intern, she didn’t imagine that she would be able to bring what she learned back to Art Division’s gallery space. But after eight weeks of working with the Getty Center’s staff on their publications, when she returned to Art Division and learned about the winter “Animá Animal” student show, she was inspired to suggest that the gallery create an exhibition catalog. “I was always into wanting to preserve the artworks that we did here,” Leslie said. Her experience gave her the confidence and the experience to make her dream a reality.
She brought her idea to Art Division’s Graphic Designer Guillermo Perez, who was immediately enthusiastic about the idea. “We’ve wanted to make the exhibitions more complete for a long time, so designing a catalog or zine to accompany them was one way to do that,” Guillermo said.
After much discussion, Guillermo and Leslie decided that a zine format would be the best way to showcase the exhibition’s work. “We thought a zine instead of a proper museum catalog would be more accessible to the students and more fun,” Guillermo said Leslie was enthusiastic about the idea of a zine. “I did a digital zine on my own about my grandma’s kitchen - I really enjoyed the process of writing and designing how to put it on the pages,” Leslie said. The opportunity to work with Guillermo gave her the chance to take her work to the next level. “I thought, let me see the process Guillermo goes through - that’s something I want to explore in my art career,” Leslie said.
The two spent countless hours designing the zine’s layout. “The most challenging thing was getting all the pieces, all the artwork and all the artwork descriptions, all before the deadline,” Guillermo said. But despite the time pressure, Guillermo was impressed by Leslie’s professionalism. “Leslie was eager to learn about graphic design in general and about how do you make a zine, how do you make a book,” Guillermo said. Both found the process rewarding. “The most rewarding part was when I got to design my part of the zine and Guillermo liked it. I was so glad he was proud of it,” Leslie said. For Guillermo, the finished product made all the work worthwhile. “The fact that it actually got finished was really rewarding, it’s been really well-received by everyone who’s seen it,” Guillermo said.
VIctor Reyes, Art Division printmaking instructor, was impressed with the zine. “They did a good job figuring out the layout and colors. And it’s good to have a zine to go along with the show. That way the viewers have a better understanding of what the show was about and what the artists were thinking about in the process of creating the work,” Victor said.
Because of the zine’s success, Art Division now plans to print a zine or catalog for all future shows by students.
The “Ánima/Animal” show, along with the zine, can be viewed until May 6, 2023 in the Art Division gallery.
The LA Times article literally said “Oh, God, run, don’t walk to Regen Projects in Hollywood for Elliot Hundley’s latest exhibition,” and who were we to disagree? On Thursday, February 9, a group of Art Division students and staff members, led by Elsa Longbourne, carpooled to Regen Projects to take in Echo, a retrospective of the last 20 years of Hundley’s work. The show combines various media and materials in a group of large-scale collages, freestanding and hanging sculptures, assemblages, paintings, photographs, ceramics, and works on paper. Many of the pieces incorporate tiny photos of friends of family re-enacting classical works of literature as well as artifacts from Hundley’s own life
Students wandered through the rooms of the gallery, spending time with each piece. Art Division student Jenny Payan, who had been Hundley’s assistant in the past, had helped archive and cut out some of the photos for the enormous, wall-sized piece Balcony. “I was impressed by the way the paintings and the painted wall blended together–it was like a masterpiece,” Art Division student Eulogia Astrolunx Real-Luxe said of the piece. “I loved the color and expression and the way you could see the touch of the brush.”
Art Division Special Projects Coordinator Luis Motta was fascinated by Hundley’s use of materials. “I was really interested in his organic way of building structures from anything he connects with,” Luis said. “It’s inspiring to see that someone can make work of any kind of material and make it personal.”
Elsa Longhauser, who had known Hundley since he was a student in the UCLA MFA program, introduced the Art Division group to Regen Projects President Shaun Caley Regen, who spoke to us about Hundley’s process as we gathered around a piece co-created by Hundley and his parrot, Echo. She explained that the parrot had started pecking at materials while Hundley was sculpting, so Hundley decided that the bird should be encouraged to arrange the pieces as he pleased, with the artist shaping the final piece.
Afterwards, the group of students and staff, along with Elsa, enjoyed a delicious lunch at Tartine to discuss the show’s highlights.
The following week, on Tuesday, Feb. 14, the same group, joined by several others, had the privilege of meeting Hundley and getting a personal tour of his Chinatown warehouse studio. Once inside the cavernous space, we were greeted by Hundley, along with his two dogs, his cat and his parrot, who hooted periodically throughout the tour. Hundley graciously showed the group through his floor-to-ceiling storeroom of archived material, which includes photos, fabric, old furniture, and pretty much anything he finds interesting, which appears to be everything. Art Division Project Coordinator Nicole Berlanga was amazed by the space. “I knew I was gonna be blown away, but I didn’t know it was gonna be that massive,” Nicole said. “It was so interesting to see the way this artist coexists with his art.”
After showing the group around the first floor studios, Hundley brought the group to the second floor, which is his living space as well as a gallery where he showcases work by emerging artists. “I was inspired by the way he lives with his art, the way he archives his life and also lives in the moment,” Art Division student Blaine Wells-West said. “I loved how he lived with his pets and how open the space was.”
Luis agreed. “I loved seeing the way Elliot works with his studio, loved ones and family,” he said. “It’s not just a space for him but a place to offer opportunities for others in the community.”
At the end of the tour, the group gathered around Hundley’s kitchen table while he chatted with Elsa. The parrot attempted to balance himself on a lotion bottle while Hundley talked about his process. He prefers to set aside a little time each morning for thinking, makes some notes of ideas, then works all day. He carves out a little time at the end of each day for another round of thinking. In this way, he can devote the majority of his time to moving forward on his work without getting bogged down in overthinking. The group left with a warm goodbye and the hopes to see him again soon.”I’m so thankful for Elsa for having built a relationship like that where he trusted us to come into his workplace and his home,” Nicole said.
Art Division’s Community Printmaking Event was filled with students, children and other people from the neighborhood on Saturday afternoon, January 14. In spite of the pouring rain, a large group gathered to participate in the event. Each attendee was able to make their own Demián Flores print, guided by Art Division Printmaking Instructors Javier Carrillo and Victor Reyes. The event was the brainchild of Maria Galicia, a former Program Coordinator at Art Division, currently working at the USC Fisher Museum of Art.
Javier explained that Demián Flores, whose work was on view at the Art Division Gallery until January 14, frequently hosts similar events at his studio in Oaxaca. Maria was inspired by Flores’ work to create a similar event here at Art Division. “Demián’s such a great guy,” Javier said. “He loves to give back, and we wanted to do the same.” Javier was surprised by the large turnout because he’d been expecting that people might stay home because of the rain. He thinks that community members, many of whom are originally from central Mexico, may have been intrigued by the subject matter. “People really responded to the prints because they could relate culturally. One girl recognized an image from Oaxacan mythology,” Javier said.
Alexander Ramirez, age 9, came with his mother and her partner. “I’ve never made a print,” he said, as Victor guided him through the printmaking process. “I’m pretty excited.” He left that day with a print of his own to take home.
Dmitrius Anton, who lives near Art Division, found out about the event when Victor handed him a flyer on the street earlier that week. “It was divine orchestration,” Anton said. “I usually do guerrilla printmaking myself and I see an overlap with my own work.” After making a print, he pulled from his pocket a small notebook of his sketches, pointing out a drawing of an unhoused man going through a garbage dumpster. “I’ve been unhoused myself, so I have empathy,” Anton said. He, too, went home with a print of his own.
Another community member, Lisa Izumi, had heard about the event through an artist field. In addition to the opportunity to make a print, she appreciated the friendliness of the event, with people mingling over snacks and music. “I’m so impressed by the colors here, and I love the vibe,” she said.
Because the event was so successful, the Art Division staff has decided to host more community printmaking events in the future. The upcoming Anima/Animal show, which runs from mid-February through May, will also end with a community printmaking event, this time with prints by Victor Reyes.
Art Division students braved the cold and rain on Sunday, Jan. 8 on a field trip to the Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA) in Long Beach to view the exhibit “Rethinking Essential” and meet the artist, Narciso Martinez. The exhibit, which opened in August 2022, will be on display until it moves later this year to the Institute of Contemporary Art in San Diego. The students carpooled down to the museum where, to their surprise, they were greeted by Art Division student Alexander Vega, who coincidentally works at the information desk at MOLAA.The unexpected meeting set a warm and welcoming mood that lasted for the entire afternoon.
Martinez met the students and Art Division staffers at the entry to his exhibit. He instantly set everyone at ease with his friendliness, telling the students the story of his personal journey. Born in Oaxaca, Martinez emigrated to the United States at the age of 20. Because he had had to work from the time he was very young, he had never received his education. In Washington State, he worked in apple orchards for nine years while he completed high school. He received an AA from LA City College in 2009, then transferred to Cal State Long Beach, graduating in 2012, then completing his MFA at Long Beach in 2018.
Throughout his educational journey, he worked in orchards, on farms or in restaurants so that he could support himself. He told the students that though doing such labor while taking classes was exhausting, he believes passionately in the power of education. “It’s important to have the knowledge and build the skills,” Martinez said. “And a degree can get you a better job. But even if you stay at a farm labor job, your education gives you the confidence you need to demand the pay and conditions you deserve.”
While Martinez spoke, a crowd of museum visitors gathered around the Art Division group, excited to see that the artist was present. Martinez spoke to the entire group about his vision for his work, which focuses on farm laborers and their working conditions. The work is executed on discarded cardboard produce boxes and uses collage, charcoal drawing and sometimes gold leaf to highlight the significance of the people he portrays. His work reflects his own experience as well as that of the workers he portrays and interviews.
For Art Division student Shanine Jaimes-Morelos, the opportunity to talk personally with Martinez was exciting. “I loved interacting with him,” she said. “And to hear his perspective really added richness to the experience of viewing his art.
Art Division student Eli Alejo agreed. “It’s really impactful to have an experience where brown artists are centered. I feel like I almost never see that,” they said.
After talking with the students, Martinez joined the Art Division group for an early dinner at Lola’s, a nearby restaurant. Over chips, horchata and heaping platters of Mexican food, the group shared stories about art, work and learning. For Art Division student CJ Calica, the chance to talk and laugh over the meal was a highlight. “I love this community,” she said after the group sang “Happy Birthday” to student Scarlett Maradiga. “It’s so great to meet like-minded people.”
On Sunday, Nov. 27, while other Angelenos were still in a post-Thanksgiving stupor, ten Art Division students and three staff members headed to Riverside to visit the Cheech Marin Museum of Chicano Art. The museum, a collaboration between the Riverside Art Museum, the City of Riverside, and comedian Cheech Marin. Is known as “The Cheech,” and opened to the public in June 2022. It is the largest and most wide-ranging display of Chicano art in the world, and is intended to stake out a place in art history for the work of Latinx artists and activists from the 1960’s on.
“When I heard about the trip, I thought it would be a great opportunity to see art with our community, to get to talk about it and hang out,” Special Projects Director Luis Motta said. He was familiar already with some of the artists in the collection, but looked forward to learning more and experiencing the work with the students.
The current exhibition features work from Marin’s personal collection, including works by Patssi Valdez, Sandy Rodriguez, Carlos Almaraz, Frank Romero, Judithe Hernández, and Gilbert “Magú” Luján. The museum itself has a large atrium and is meant to have the feel of a zocolo, creating the feeling of a community space.
Art Division students were struck by the immediacy of the work. Each student found themself drawn to different individual pieces. For Scar Maradiaga, currently studying Photography at Art Division, the standout piece was Vincent Valdez’s “Kill the Pachuco Bastard,” a giant cinematic painting that imagines a bloody barroom brawl during the Los Angeles Zoot Suit Riots. “I liked the story in there, I liked how clear it was,” Scar said. “I liked the vibrancy.”
In addition to works from Cheech Marin’s collection, the museum is currently showing “Collidoscope,” an exhibit of sculpture and other large installations by Einar and Jamex de la Torre, two brothers from Guadalajara who have spent their lives navigating the U.S./Mexico border. Working in blown glass and other materials, the de la Torres brothers incorporate traditional crafts and high-tech media for an exhibit whose imagery spans from pre-Columbian times to the future. “I was blown away by the Torres brothers,” Motta said.
Afterwards, the Art Division group walked to the legendary Tio’s Tacos, where they enjoyed food and aguas frescas in its famous garden of found art objects and murals. There, students discussed their favorite pieces from the museum as well as ideas about tradition, time and frame of reference in Chicano art. “I loved the museum, but hanging out afterwards was my favorite part,” Art Division Program Coordinator Nicole Berlanga said. “Beyond getting to know the students, I got to know what they like about art. I love that we were able to enjoy the work at our own pace and then come together to debrief.”
Scar agreed that the best part of the trip was the chance to talk with other students about the art. “I really liked that we got to compare our ideas about the art, really break it down together,” Scar said. “I’d talk to another student and realize they saw something I hadn’t even noticed.” Like Nicole, she appreciated getting a chance to get to know more Art Division students. “It was really nice to meet new people,” Scar said.
Demiàn Flores“Pinturas Plegables”
A huge vulture, wings outstretched. Corpses laid out like mummies. Flames erupting from a human torso. A giant airplane, aloft, nose tilted downward. Amidst these unsettling images, cartoon figures peer in the background. These vibrant images and many more seem to explode from their canvases in Demián Flores exhibit “Pinturas Plegables,” (Foldable Paintings), now showing in the Art Division gallery.
According to Flores’ statement, the five paintings in the exhibit are his response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which “forced humanity to reinvent the ways of life in society and the relationship between individuals,” causing us to have found “new forms of socialization and dialogue with the viewer through the screen of the computer or cell phone.” The works, which mingle images from history, politics, pop culture and fine art, are unframed on canvas that resembles a dropcloth, giving them a feeling of having been improvised and then carried away quickly.
Flores, one of Mexico’s most important artists, has long experimented with mixing formal and informal elements. When Art Division Artistic Director Dan McCleary first encountered Flores’ work in 2006 at the USC Fisher Museum of Art, he was startled to see a row of baseball bats carved into elaborate, enigmatic shapes. “I knocked on the museum director’s door and said ‘who is this guy?’” Dan said. The director, Selma Holo, soon introduced Dan and Flores. A meeting at the museum turned into dinner, which turned into an invitation for Dan to visit Flores in Oaxaca. The friendship has continued to this day.
Flores’ work has been an ongoing source of inspiration to Dan, spanning many disciplines including painting, graphic arts, drawing, video and sculpture. The Curtiduría, a cultural and community space Flores established in Oaxaca, was one of Dan’s inspirations when he founded Art Division. “I believe he’s one of the most important artists in Mexico,” Dan said. “He’s got such a touch.”
Victor Reyes, the gallery’s Assistant Manager, finds the paintings create an emotional connection. He appreciates the way the work speaks to everyday life in Mexico. “You see violence but in the background there’s something positive and childlike,” Reyes said. “The strokes are violent, the colors are violent, but at the same time it’s really vibrant.”
“Pinturas Plegables” will be on display in the Art Division gallery from November 12, 2022 to January 7, 2023. To visit the gallery, please contact Dan (email@example.com).
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