HuffPost Arts' Haiku Reviews is a new weekly feature where invited critics review exhibitions and performances in short form. Some will be in the traditional Haiku form of 5x7x5 syllables, others might be a sonnet or a string of words together. This week, Marina Cashdan, James Scarborough, George Heymont, Dorothy Spears, and Mat Gleason give quick takes on performing and visual art from LA to London. Is there a show or performance that you think people should know about? Write a Haiku with a link and shine a light on something you think is noteworthy too.
Rococo Triangle: Stephanie Mercado, Eye for the Sensual, and Fashioning Fashion
October 15th, 2010 11:11 pm PT
Since the very beginning of time, the universe has continuously presented an infinite saga of strange coincidences. At the moment, Los Angeles is graced with a triangle of art exhibitions that communicate to each other through the centuries, both revealing aspects of aristocratic societies. One of the two exhibitions taking place at LACMA in the Resnick Pavilion is entitled Eye for the Sensual, a collection of about 85 European paintings and sculptures from the Stewart and Lynda Resnick collection which will be on view until January 2, 2011. These works include the infamous Portrait of Marie Antoinette, Our Queen of France by Élisabeth-Louise Vigée-Le Brun, along with the vibrant pastel colors of the paintings from the whimsical Rococo period. These paintings were made primarily for the wealthy aristocratic families and royalty of the era. The Yin to this yang, if you will, is Stephanie Mercado’s exhibition, All This and Heaven Too, that is taking place in a part of town with a lot less schmooze, Echo Park California, at the Underground Gallery. The opening night is Saturday, October 16th at 7pm, and will run until November 20th. Her work explores the ideas of the American Dream, which gives everyone the impression that we can all be wealthy, or at least appear that way. Mimicking the paintings of the Rococo period, specifically the Marie Antoinette paintings by Élisabeth-Louise Vigée-Le Brun, she strategically places modern day status symbols in her work such as in Mine is Forever, oil on canvas, 2010, in which she places a Louis Vuitton purse in one hand, and a tiny suburban track home in her other hand. She paints with the same skill of the Neoclassical painters of the 1700’s, with vibrant colors and well rendered subject matter. Many of her paintings include imagery of houses, which she attributes to her and her families feelings upon getting wrongfully evicted from their home a few years ago. Stephanie is quite grounded and speaks about her work with ease. She understands hard work, and puts that into everything she does. She works full time at an art gallery in Santa Monica, and as soon as she leaves work, she is off to her studio where she paints until the crack of dawn, comes home for a few hours of sleep and wakes up in the morning to do the whole thing over again. Her austere approach to the artwork is very obvious in her technical skill, but there is still this feathery softness to her feminine images and manages to produce strong conceptual undertones. Her use of the Marie Antoinette figure is very relatable to women of today. She represents a material girl, a diva who is willing to be fabulous at all costs. Her work is a surrealistic, symbolic commentary on the lusty desires American society has for material possession. The interesting thing about the original paintings of the Rococo period, such as the work that can be seen at the LACMA, is it was made without the intent of commentary. There is no message in them that is mocking or provoking the way we see ourselves. They in fact, depict the way the rich wanted the rest of the world to view them, fantastic and dazzling in beautiful evening attire. The paintings themselves say something that is somewhat pretentious. It gives the illusion that the life of the rich should be regarded as iconic. Stephanie’s work challenges the European paintings that have inspired her, and she does so with strength and elegance. Stephanie not only paints, but also designs dresses that resemble the extravagant evening attire worn by European women of the mid-eighteenth century, which provides another parallel for the current fashion exhibition, Fashioning Fashion: European Dress in Detail, 1700-1915, at the Resnick Pavillion at the LACMA, right across from the Eye for the Sensual show. The collection of antique clothing on view is one of those shows that is simply breath-taking. Each piece is spectacularly preserved, and modeled on mannequins with the most exquisite accessories of the era from which they are dressed. One section of this exhibition even explores the undergarments worn ages ago, including the often fetishised corsets and boots that constrained women so severely, that removing these contraptions became an experience of orgasmic release. The intricate beauty of this collection of clothing is absolutely delicious for anyone with a sweet tooth for fashion and history. After taking a look at Stephanie’s multi-faceted gradient of work, it is such a delightful treat to stop by the LACMA, which is free from 5pm to 8pm on weeknights, and $15 during the daytime to check out Eye for the Sensual and Fashioning Fashion. These three shows together form a trine harmony of visual stimulation.
In addition to working on art, I am constantly looking, reading and most of all... looking.
There is a great amount of research, notes and ideas scribbled in my sketchbooks about history, paintings and primarily... historical paintings. Since I have been working with themes concerning economics, the housing market, real-estate, colonialism, displays of wealth, etc. ... I have come across some intriguing finds. Among those finds is tulip fever, a frenzy that took place in the Netherlands in the 17th Century. Tulips became luxuries and were sold for thousands of florins, or up to three to four times as much as a working class merchant or skilled tradesman would make in one year's salary. The tulip market bubbled and then collapsed leading many working class people caught up in the frenzy to misfortune and bankruptcy, and the Dutch economy in shambles.
This is the second dress I have ever made. The first was the black and pink dress I made in dedication to my grandfather for the Calavera Fashion show in 2009. My educational background is in drawing and painting, and not in apparel construction. I create these garments intuitively often thinking about their shape and form for weeks before cutting and sewing away.
This dress mimics the language found in the drypoint prints. It will have a train made of black lace that drapes from the wall, creating a wallpaper effect like the detailed wallpapers found in my prints. It is constructed with layers of tulle and lace, some of which have land forms sewn onto them creating a wearable map. Inside the head-dress will be a gold plated model ship, tying the theme of the dress into the larger body of work.
Avenue 50 Studio in Highland Park presents, Women on the Verge featuring new works by Stephanie Mercado and Alpha Lubicz.
The exhibition will include dry point prints, carefully scratched to create a rich tonal range and intricately detailed imagery. It will also include Mercado's latest sculptural installation, modeled after 17th century French Fashion. Both the prints and the dress interpret and deconstruct the American Dream, and our consumerist culture. The result is a body of work that merges fashion with works on paper and combines historical images with contemporary socio-economic issues to redraw and reinterpret imagery that has shaped our ideas of prosperity for generations.
Alpha Lubicz is a collage artist who uses vintage imagery to create a new visual language, merging her own drawings with imagery appropriated from aged books. Through stream of consciousness she developes layered images rich with pattern and a sense of nostalgia.
Life has been extremely busy, but I am happy to have plenty to do.
In addition to making art daily, I am working as an Assistant
Director to a gallery at Bergamot station, so every day I am surrounded by art. I have been working endlessly toward the upcoming exhibitions I have this year.
I have a two-person show in July at Ave. 50 Studio in Highland Park featuring 10 - 15 works on paper by myself, and works on paper by Los Angeles artist Alpha Lubicz.
This week I worked with Self Help Graphics on a new Serigraph titled "The Golden Tree" which will be on exhibit for my show at Ave. 50 Studio in July. I will be signing the edition within a couple of days, and I am eager to share this new work with you.
Due to the success of my Dress in last year's Calavera Fashion Show at Tropico De Nopal I was inspired to create a new body of work that fuses Fashion with Painting and Sculpture. I am slowly venturing into Couture Fashion and Costume Design. I am already beginning to design the pieces for both my Solo Show in October and this year's Fashion Show in November. You can have a sneak peek at the direction of the new body of work with a show I have coming up in July at Ave. 50 Studio in the annex room. In addition to the exhibition in July I have also confirmed with Self Help Graphics on creating a special Serigraph Edition at their Studio. Among other printmaking exhibitions I will also be working with The Dirty Printmakers of America who will be curating several printmaking exhibitions at various Universities and Galleries across the Nation.
LOOK GALLERY in the Los Angeles Mart invites you to One Hundred for One Thousand, Tomorrow's Legendary art by emerging artists, priced for today.
Ann Arden, Sally Peterson, Gregg Chadwick, Eric Poppleton, Cathy Charles, Jeff Robinson, Ghislaine Fenmore, Ronald Santos, Jerri Levi, Bruna Stude, Mike Lohr, Artie Twitchell, Ramon Lopez, Kent Twitchell, Stephanie Mercado, Mike Vegas, Chris Naylor, Adam Wolpert and Walt Peregoy
I will have 8-10 Paintings of various sizes in this exhibition. For more information please visit...
January 31 - February 28, 2010
Opening Reception: Sunday January 31, 2010 6:00 to 11:00PM
(Immediately following the Alternative Space Driving Tour from 2:00-6:00PM)
Underground Gallery, Silver Lake
This year Underground Gallery, has changed direction and will now focus only on work that exists somewhere between art and fashion. The work will be presented as a Collection, rather than as an exhibition, and will correspond with the seasons. For January's exhibit, Underground has organized a group show of the artists scheduled for the coming year: Rebbecca Lowery, Stephanie Mercado, Ismael de Anda III, Anne Martens and the collective known as S.A.S.S. This collection of works represents the new direction of the space as well as being a preview of the exciting work to come throughout the year.
We are also very excited to have been asked to participate in the Alternative Space Driving Tour as part of the last day of events for the Art Los Angeles Contemporary @ Pacific Design Center.
Alternative Space Driving Tour * 2–6pm, Sunday Jan. 31
In a nod to the alternative art space the fair has arranged an open house self-guided driving tour. This past year a number of new spaces opened and existing alternative institutions expanded their programming. These spaces are dotted all across the city, allowing the visitor to explore the different neighborhoods of Los Angeles.
I am an artist born and raised in Boyle Heights, east of Downtown Los Angeles. I am a creator of things, whether it be painting, printing or sewing. I come from a family of tradesmen, musicians, and creative types. Although I did not have access to art in my youth, I was encouraged by my mother to draw, by my grandfather to sew, and by my grandmother to knit.
I stumbled upon painting when I saw an instructional video on PBS at the age of 15, and decided to pursue art ever since. I received my Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree through California University Long Beach ten years later, and I am currently making art full-time.
How did you get started in printmaking?
I started printmaking by accident. While I was at school pursuing my bachelor's degree one of my classes was canceled and the only class available was a printmaking survey class. Since I needed a certain number of units, I decided to stay enrolled in the class and instantly fell in love with the medium, the diversity and the range of work one can create with printmaking.
After having exhibited a series of prints I created at school, a patron became interested in my art and donated a press she was no longer using to me. I am very fortunate to have made such a good and generous friend.
Describe where you work.
When I received the Press I did not have a studio and I worked from home. I recently got a studio in Downtown Los Angeles, but due to it's weight my press is still in my bedroom and I think I prefer to keep it there. The area where I print takes up a quarter of my living space, but it does not bother me because it reminds me that I have to keep busy, and that I have to keep making things. I became accustomed to working with portability and ingenuity in small spaces, and having a place to work away from home in addition to a place to work while I am home, allows me to make art all of the time.
Therefor, the studio in downtown is primarily my painting and sewing studio, and my bedroom at home is my printmaking studio. One day I would like to have a large space where I can live, work and exhibit all at once.
What's your favorite printmaking process?
At the moment, my favorite printmaking process is Dry-point because of its portability of process and unpredictable printing quality. I really enjoy the immediate mark making and the variation in line and tone one can obtain through those marks, in addition to the level of detail one can achieve. Dry-point prints also have a line quality that is similar to ink drawings and may at times be appear a little deceiving and ambiguous at first glance.
What's your creative process for any given print? (eg. sketch first? Pre-planned or free-form?)
My creative process primarily revolves around reading and research. When I am working on a body of work, I am constantly thinking about elements and ways to convey particular ideas. When I have an idea, I usually sketch what I am thinking, and the sketch determines whether or not I will make a painting or a print. Sometimes, I make a painting from a print, and sometimes I make a print from a painting. Although the themes are similar, or one idea is used in two different mediums, the image is never the same.
What do you enjoy most about printmaking?
The most enjoyable aspects of printmaking for me are the process and the range one can achieve using various mediums within printmaking. I like carving blocks, scratching Plexi-glass, cutting paper, inking plates, and watching a series of prints hanging to dry. I also like seeing the diversity within each print, and contributing to the variation by watercoloring, drawing, or silkscreening over some of the prints. I like to make ideas come into fruition, to see prints formed and to see them change.
What's your least favorite part of the process?
Aside from cleanup, I'd have to say that framing is my least favorite part of completing the printing process. Seeing the work framed is rewarding, but taking the time to frame the work always seems more daunting than making the work itself.
What are your inspirations (other artists, people, places, events, etc.)?
My inspiration is society. I see everything around me, and I question everything.. I wonder why things are the way they are, and whether or not they will ever change. From those thoughts and emotions I turn to art, music, film and literature. Artist, musicians, films and writers are secondary sources of inspiration that help my thoughts and creativity to grow. For example I am currently making art focused on socio-economic issues and the housing market, and researching Bruegel's work, the history of Wallpaper, and Doll Houses.
How has your work changed and evolved since you started?
I have become more care-free with my work since I started. I used to waste a lot of time wondering whether or not an idea was worth pursuing. Now I just make the work and I have fun with it.
How do you get past creative slumps?
I usually get past creative slumps by flipping through old sketch books, going to the museum or by going to the library. Sometimes I take a couple of days off and do nothing for a couple of days. Not working for a couple of days usually does the trick and I am eager to get back to work the following day. My hands need to be constantly working on something, for my mind to be at peace.
How do you promote your work?
I try any means necessary to get the work out there. I am on a few social networking sites in addition to my own website. I also have promotional postcards that I leave everywhere I go. I enjoy going out and meeting people, and any time they ask for a business card, I always have one handy.
Any other comments or advice for others who want to try making hand-pulled prints?
Appreciate them for what they are and don't worry about making them too perfect. Imperfections give them depth and personality. Oh, and... good luck!
I am preparing for my upcoming solo exhibition which will take place in the Fall of 2010. The show will be a mixture of painting, printmaking, sculpture and Fashion. Here is a sneak peek at one of my new sources of inspiration: