September 11 will mark the opening night festivities for the Museum Of Latin American Art’s “up for bid” preview in the Main Gallery. The museum, which houses modern and contemporary pieces from a diverse group of painters, sculptors, and photographers, represents the political nature and upheaval of their culture and environment.
Visually resplendent in color and breadth, many of the pieces aim to inform the viewer of a charged and violent past. The gallery, which invites the public with its airy and glass imbued entrance, establishes a highly stylized meeting place. Intimate and hushed, sliding glass doors quietly usher in the viewer and close out the hustle and bustle of the Alamitos Avenue location.
Within eyesight of the burgeoning skyline on Ocean Avenue the museum establishes a theme of “otherness.” Embraced by writers and philosophers like Rushdie and Said, the term marks a society or community that, through its socio-political history, recognizes its self as a misinterpretation of cultural make-up ultimately determined by romanticized ideals.
Untitled, from the series “The Sleep of Reason” by painter Mayra Barraza immerses the viewer with the subversive nature of the politics of her homeland, El Salvador. Born in 1966, Barraza’s 40x27 inch drawing is a stark representation of the repressive and murderous conditions that trouble the region of Latin America.
The piece “depicts an anonymous decapitated female head floating in an open space on the picture plane.” The “plane” described is a completely white canvas, wherein the head, which is partially exposed in the center quadrant, reverses the gaze laid upon it. Withdrawn from its body, assuming a violent deconstruction from its host, the head peers from its deathbed evoking “…horror, yet at the same time compels an expanded social awareness about the local violence.” Barraza’s drawings were inspired by reported murders in El Salvadorian newspapers.
Cornered together in a section of the main gallery are two artists with similar themes of “the other.” Becky Guttin a Mexican mixed media artist and Walterio Iraheta a photographer from El Salvador mirror a common theme of “diaspora” or displacement of a culture. Guttin, born in 1954, creates a mock up of an actual border town.
The Border Line #1, from the series “The Border Line” is a “light jet photographic print and brass objects.” Two communities, both a group of houses or farms made of brass sit opposite of each other. The photograph serves as the ground they perch on, showing vivid colors of wild grass each seemingly imbedded with spikes. “A border region clearly delineated, one side impoverished, worn dwellings, the other well kept, shining houses all the same, but different.”
Iraheta’s project, Migration Is Always An Issue Of Space is 15 magazine sized photographs with an accompanying DVD essay. Each photographed item is castoff from a border crosser. A baby’s bib, a hat, a sole of a boot, is discarded, ground in dirt and decay. The items, once possessions, have become the litter that inundates the Southwest border region.
The DVD is a cinematic version of a class picture. Centered in a rural backdrop, the smiling group of teens and small children slowly fade from the group until none remain. Transitory movement of the immigrant explained with digital effect.
Located at 628 Alamitos Avenue, MOLAA posits itself in an expanding community of Latin American culture. A community that has a confluence of the rich and the poor, the museum represents a host of international artists in a region where the world has amassed. Centered in an African-American, Asian, Middle Eastern and an abundant Latin American community, the museum voices its identification with individuals who make up the diverse culture of Long Beach.