“Stepping into an art fair for the first time was like a cow visiting a butcher shop.”
This is how Mario Ybarra Jr. described his experience as an artist attending a large international art fair to his friends back home in Wilmington.
“It was a little like the Slauson Indoor Swapmeet,” Ybarra said. “I was just shocked to see so much art in one place.”
Ybarra is Pasadena City College’s annual artist in residence for 2015. The residency includes two gallery exhibitions and the premiere performance by Karla Diaz.
At the Boone Family Art Gallery, “Like a Cow Visiting a Butcher Shop…,” features a series of vibrant paintings by Ybarra and a 13-minute music video starring artists Karla Diaz, Raul “Spew” Vasquez, Antonio de Jesus Lopez, and Emilio Venegas Jr., all members of an artist collective known as Slanguage. Based in the Harbor area, Slanguage, which Ybarra cofounded with Diaz in 2002, centers their practice on “a three-pronged approach to art-making including education, community-building, and interactive exhibitions.” The six pieces emerged from a project of the same name that Ybarra presented at the ARCOmadrid contemporary art fair in Spain in 2013.
“To be frank, I chose this installation for the artist in residence exhibition because we needed a place to put the work,” Ybarra said.
The second exhibition, “Noise/Light,” housed in the newly opened Gallery V-108 features works from Seven Slanguage artists including Yadira Agredano, Armando Cortes, Carmen Maria Hernandez, Antonio De Jesus Lopez, Monica A. Martinez, Gloria Elisa Margarita Sanchez and Emilio Venegas Jr.
Cortes’ work, “Balance Piece No. 3,” prominently featured in the center of Gallery V-108, displays a series of pots suspended by ropes on a large wooden frame.
“I love mass production, things like Legos and bricks, so I decided to mass produce pots,” Cortes said. “This piece is sort of a self-portrait in a way, I am the pots just floating in the air.”
Carmen Hernandez has been working with Slanguage since the age of 16. She has two pieces featured in the exhibition, a diptych titled “Internal” and a triptych titled “External.”
“The basis of my work comes from something bodily,” Hernandez said. “I had a lot of fun working on the ‘Internal’ pieces because I was able to work more freely.”
Focusing on art education, the collective has organized numerous artist residencies in museums across the United States and abroad. Fostering dialogue about the meaning and value of contemporary art, Slanguage has used their studio space develop relationships between diverse artists, students, communities, and organizations.
“We don’t just teach art education, we use art as a vehicle for education,” Ybarra said.
Ybarra’s weeklong residency on campus began with a public lecture about the artist solo work and his involvement with the artists in the Slanguage collective. The residency will conclude with a live performance by Diaz. She will perform “Fearless (Except when Riding a Roller Coaster),” a series of vignettes about fear based on dreams, newspaper clippings and the artist’s memoirs.
“Like a Cow Visiting a Butcher Shop…” and “Noise/Light” will be on view through April 4 in the Boone Family Art Gallery and Gallery V-108.