Gutiérrez - Orozco "East Los"
Curated by Kathy Gallegos
East Los, is a collection of new works documenting East Los Angeles with haunting paintings by Roberto Gutierrez and painterly photography by Jose Orozco. Gutiérrez paintings are masterly juxtaposed with Orozco's images, the artists paying homage to the place both call home. Gutiérrez and Orozco's East Los exhibition at Avenue 50 Studio in Highland Park, California,(8/14/10-9/5/10) unfolds in front of the viewer's eyes as a history book of Angelenos' memories of East Los Angeles.
Gutiérrez first paintings of the “barrio” were definitely homages to the place were Gutiérrez was raised and that no longer exists. Nevertheless all his paintings are homage to the place most of us, living in Los Angeles, recognize as “home.” College students, nostalgic for their home, away from Los Angeles, place posters of Gutiérrez paintings in their dorms. Gutiérrez paintings give the viewer a sense of calmness (even though conflict is present – grids, grittiness in black and white, fences, and freeways) and pride to be Latinos. Somehow there is a feeling of home when observing Gutiérrez' depictions of the barrio. Gutiérrez has chosen to represent everyday life in a manner that is different than the themes represented in the murals that were flourishing throughout the Latino neighborhoods in Los Angeles in the 1970s and 1980s during the birth of the Chicano Movement in the South Western United States.
José Orozco's artworks in the gallery reflect not only his admiration of artist Roberto Gutierrez, but Orozco's own process from the past to now. Orozco's love for East Los Angeles and admiration for Roberto Gutiérrez are apparent in his superb photography. Orozco met Gutiérrez at the venerable Self-Help Graphic art institution in East Los Angeles, the place where the most talented Chicano artists gathered. Both artists felt an instant admiration for each other's works and they developed a lifetime friendship. In the current exhibit, it is obvious that the artists worked together, not as one, but as complimentary components. Gutierrez would assist Orozco with picturesque sites, calling him "when the sky was full of clouds" to capture the images. Gutierrez' involvement in Orozco's art did not stop with his physical help... Orozco's views of East Los Angeles are tempered with that which has gone before. Orozco manages to capture in digital images that which Gutierrez has created... Orozco's work validates the truth of Gutierrez' artistic vision.
As Latinos are becoming more educated than ever in the United States and as they have began to move away from East Los Angeles, Latinos, nostalgic for their homes, are looking with increased interest at art such as Orozco's and Gutiérrez as part of their history left behind in the barrio.