Friday, June 24, 2005

Art Openings

Last night I attended the opening of The Chicano Collection- Cheech
Marin's ambitious undertaking to advance Chicano art as a recognized school of American art. He worked with printmaker Modern Multiples to produce limited-edition reproductions of paintings by 26 prominent Chicano artists. The accompanying documentary by Tamara Hernandez film chronicled the history of Chicano art in stories told by the artists, museum curators, gallery owners and collectors. Mr. Marin's humor and passion for art created a really enjoyable atmosphere. So that was cool.

What I love about art openings is the art. I love witnessing the unveiling of new work. I love talking to the artists about what intrigues them and the passion that drives their creativity. I love getting up close to a painting, then backing away from a painting and squinting my eyes to see if something new is revealed- like using the Photoshop blur filter. And sometimes the hors d'oeuvres are pretty good and, occasionally, the hosts offer an upgrade from Charles Shaw or an interesting cocktail. These are the good things.

What I don't love and am not good at is the small cliquey circles that form after everyone has seen the show, and into which one tries to inject oneself and attempts to enjoy the light banter and sometimes politically charged commentary set forward by one or two more aggressive (more comfortable?) guests. And although at times I am repulsed by (in awe of?) their behavior, I am always thankful for their presence. And I'm guessing the active participants are equally thankful for the awkward listeners because we form an important part of the interaction equation. Someone has to pretend to be interested. I'm not going to sugar coat it. This is the reality of social networking.

Last night was a refreshing change from the norm. Mayor-Elect Anthony Villaraigosa participated in the program. We passed through the Boathouse Gallery entrance at the same time- he and his entourage leaving; my husband and I arriving- and as I shook his hand, I had an opportunity to see him close-up. Beautiful skin. The event drew a great mix of people- charcoal suited men, young hip urbanites, artists' families full of pride, politicos, moneyed sponsors, street artists, the media... a perfect summer evening in the courtyard of La Plaza de la Raza in downtown LA. As we enjoyed a plate of carne asada tostadas and each other's company, one of the collection's artists, Magu Lujan, summed up the conversational buzz, "It seems like all the artists want to talk about banking and all the bankers want to talk about art."
Here's a link where you can buy the book The Chicano Collection.

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