Museums honor Mexico's milestones

LOS ANGELES - To commemorate the 2010 centennial of the Mexican revolution as well as the bicentennial of Mexico's independence, Los Angeles museums will present an array of exhibitions that span both media and millennia.Beginning this month, the Autry National Center of the American West, the Fowler Museum at UCLA, the Getty Research Institute, the Getty Villa, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), and the Museum of Latin American Art will each mount exhibitions that collectively will be on view for approximately one year. Artists such as David Alfaro Siqueiros, David Mecalco, and Felipe Ehrenberg will be represented as will ancient Aztec, Olmec, and pre-Columbian works and more. Fowler Museum at UCLA Fowler in Focus: X-Voto-The Retablo-Inspired Art of David Mecalco •January 31, 2009-May 16, 2010 For more than two decades artist David Mecalco has sold hand-painted devotional images (retablos) from a stall in Mexico City's La Lagunilla Sunday antiques fair (commonly referred to as the Thieves' Market). In recent years these vibrant works-pulsing with images of the Virgin Mary, the devil, skeletons, animals, petitioners, and more-have brought him international recognition. Traditionally, wooden or metal-backed Mexican retablos are placed in churches, shrines, or home altars and many are now commissioned as expressions of gratitude (retablos ex votos) for prayers answered. See dozens of examples of Mecalco's lively re-conceptualization of the art form, inspired by the realities of life in the barrios and pulquer??as (saloons) of Mexico, which show a keen interest in the suffering of those marginalized or abused by mainstream society. Additionally, the Fowler plans a presentation of pre-Columbian works from Mexico in the fall of 2010. Getty Villa The Aztec Pantheon and the Art of Empire •March 24-July 5, 2010 The Aztec Pantheon explores the parallels between two great empires-the Aztec and Roman. Organized to celebrate the 2010 bicentennial of Mexican independence, the exhibition illuminates the ongoing dialogue between the Old and the New Worlds-a dual heritage that has shaped the modern contours of Mexico. The Aztec Pantheon includes masterworks of Aztec sculpture, largely from the collections of the National Museum of Anthropology and the Museo del Templo Mayor in Mexico City, as well as the Florentine Codex, an iconic chronicle of Aztec culture and history, returning to this continent for the first time in over 4 centuries. Museum of Latin American Art Manchuria: Peripheral Vision-A Felipe Ehrenberg Retrospective •May 22-August 15, 2010 MOLAA presents one of Mexico's most illustrious and iconoclastic contemporary artists. Organized by the Museum of Modern Art in Mexico City, the exhibition is the first in the United States to profile Ehrenberg as an early proponent of the postmodern aesthetic. Known as a neologist (one who invents or uses new words and forms), Ehrenberg first experimented in England with the 1970s Fluxus movement and returned to Mexico engaging in the practice of artist's books, performance, installation, media and intervention art. Recently Mexico's cultural attaché in the artistically progressive Sao Paulo, Brazil, his initiatives continue to infuse the international art scene. Museum of Latin American Art - Project Room Mariana Castillo Deball •June 17-September, 12, 2010 Installation of objects including sculptures inspired by the Aztec goddesses Coatlicue and Coyolxauhqui, the goddesses of death and the moon, respectively. This project continues the artist's critical exploration of Mexico's complex relationship with its archaeology. The exhibition will address the history of these goddesses within the mythology, in an archeological and sociological context, since their discoveries signified an important shift in the history of Mexican archaeology. Autry National Center of the American West Siqueiros in Los Angeles: Censorship Defied •September 2010-January 2011 Mexican artist David Alfaro Siqueiros was one of the greatest muralists of the twentieth century. Revolutionary in technique, content, and social comment, his work established Los Angeles as a key center for this public art form and started a movement that continues today. The Autry National Center of the American West, in partnership with noted academic and cultural leaders, will present the world premiere exhibition Siqueiros in Los Angeles: Censorship Defied to bring a renewed focus to the life and work of this renowned muralist and to explore his significance and legacy within the art of Los Angeles. Museum of Latin American Art - Project Room Jorge Méndez Blake, All the Poetry Books •September 23, 2010 - January 3, 2011 This exhibition is part of a series of actions in Los Angeles public libraries in which the artist will temporarily remove the poetry books and create site-specific installations. LACMA Olmec: Colossal Masterworks of Ancient Mexico •Opening October 2010 Olmec is the first West Coast presentation of colossal works and small-scale sculptures produced by Mexico's earliest civilization, which began around 1400 BC and was centered in the Gulf Coast states of Veracruz and Tabasco. Olmec architects and artists produced the earliest monumental structures and sculptures on the North American continent, including enormous basalt portrait heads weighing up to twenty-four tons, of their rulers. Small-scale jadeite objects, which embody the symbolism of sacred and secular authority among the Olmec, attest to the long-distance exchange of rare resources that existed as early as 1000 BC, and Olmec artists were unsurpassed in their ability to work this extremely hard stone with elementary tools of chert, water, and sand. The exhibition is organized by Mexico's Instituto Nacional de Antropolog??a e Historia, LACMA, and the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, and is curated at LACMA by Virginia Fields, senior curator of Art of the Ancient Americas. Getty Research Institute Obsidian Mirror-Travels •November 16, 2010 - March 27, 2011 Curators: Khristaan Villela, University of New Mexico, and Beth Guynn, GRI This exhibition explores representations of Mexican archaeological sites and objects made during the past two centuries. Drawn mainly from the Getty Research Institute's vast holdings of books, engravings, drawings, photographs, objects, letters, and postcards relating to Mexican archaeology, the exhibition features both well- and little-known images of ancient Maya and Aztec ruins made by archaeologist explorers such as Frederick Catherwood, Désiré Charnay, and Augustus and Alice Le Plongeon. Specific themes explored in the exhibition include the Aztec Calendar Stone, panoramic visions of Mexico, and Mexican antiquities in relationship to the nineteenth-century French intervention in Mexico, and later, during the long presidency of Porfirio Diaz (1876-1910).

********** Published: January 15, 2010 - Volume 8 - Issue 39

FeaturesEric Pierce