In the grip of fires, mudslides and earthquakes, California is an architectural destination whose natural environment threatens its existence almost daily. It was probably this sense of unfamiliarity, coupled with its lack of American history relative to the Midwestern and East Coast regions, that attracted Frank Lloyd Wright, Charles and Ray Eames, Rudolph Schindler, John Lautner, and Frank Gehry. to Golden State to graft an image of modern perfectionism onto its smoking hills and eroded coastlines.
Through sculpture, painting and drawing, the unique quality of Californian architecture is reinterpreted through a group exhibition at Land of the Sun, a gallery in the Chung King Court in Los Angeles‘Chinatown which provides art studios and equipment for adults with intellectual disabilities. The five Californian artists of California architecture—Sylvia Fragoso, Dan Hamilton, Maria Kim, Michael LeVell and Evelyn Reyes — were selected for their different use of materials and techniques to represent the built environment through the visual arts. Each artist is represented by nonprofit art studio programs statewide: Creative Growth, Creativity Explored, Exceptional Children’s Foundation (ECF), National Institute of Art & Disabilities (NIAD), and the Tierra del Sol Foundation. .
In the tradition of Californian artists before them, they exhibit the fragile built environment of the state in exaggerated forms. Evenlyn Reyes, for example, presents a series of abstract geometric shapes reminiscent of the tall, imposing doorways of private communities across the state. Seeing them immediately in the gallery, rendered in monochrome oil pastels, is like running through the hills of Bel Air, where the passer-by is inconspicuous beyond the vaunted gates.
Dan Hamilton, meanwhile, contrasts the uncompromising geometry of California’s mid-century modern period with the vibrant coloring of its dingbats and malls. And at the center of the gallery space are Sylvia Fragoso’s glazed ceramics that depict the cathedrals of northern California as precarious lines of hardened clay. “[Fragoso] refined its visual language for 30 years at NIAD, ”the exhibit’s statement read,“ focusing on devotional structures including towers, domes and other objects with religious iconography that expresses her faith “.
Although the five artists looked at different mediums and methods of representation, the works are all unmistakably Californian in their exuberance and raw expression.
California architecture will be visible until September 4.