90/300, the art exhibit opening at ArtCenter’s downtown gallery, located at 114 West 4th Street, is a revelation of what is not necessarily a secret history, but certainly a parallel one, an appreciation of American life from a black perspective, which seems at times an echo and others a shout.
By Garrett Rowlan
Dedicated to the 300 black students who have passed through ArtCenter’s doors in its 90-year history, the exhibit includes in its first section the more venerable artists, such as James Van Evers and his photographs of black luminaries; the paintings of Erick Thorpe, with their evocations of an American pastoral; and most notably the photographs of Barbara DuMetz, whose subjects run the gauntlet from celebrities to street life. Also on the ground floor is a series of headshots of many of the artists participating, and their even gaze at the camera seems to summon a vast history.
Upstairs, more recent artists are gathered under the headings Minority Report, curated by contemporary artist Devin Troy Strother. Arrayed across the floor are films, posters, and photographs whose themes of anomie, decay and dissolution are always lurking whenever a camera is aimed at contemporary life, and yet in the quiet hotel rooms of Dana Walker-Juick, there is a sense of repose, even peace, in the light that binds night and day. One senses that ethnicity is not such an important touchstone in these younger artists, but are seeing the same problems of contemporary life from a different perspective.
All in all, it is a challenging exhibit, located in a downtown LA scene with its own propulsive ambience, which alone is worth the trip.
ArtCenter DTLA Feb. 13 - March 13, 2020. Location 114 West 4th St Los Angeles, CA 90013
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