Sweet and Sour - Its a Thin Line
At a time when the United States Government is engaging in its third military conflict in the Middle East it is important to examine the excremental remnants of oil production and its effect on the Los Angeles Harbor Area. Libya is "sitting on the largest reserve of sweet crude oil in the world" which we all know is at the root of UN intervention efforts in the area. Crude oil is considered to be sweet or sour based on its degree of sulfur content. The sulfur is the excrement. It is the byproduct of oil production and refining. Wilmington, the Heart of the Harbor, is surrounded by oil refineries on all sides. It is also home to at least two major sulfur production plants. At one of these plants, my father and uncles have worked in part or together for the past twenty years. This exhibition will visually examine the sulfur industry and its labor force. It will attempt to look at its effects on the landscape as well as its effect on the people. This exhibition will look through a microscope at situations that might be reflective of a macroscopic reality. The oil industry exists within a duality. It is both good and evil. Society loves it and hates it simultaneously. It pollutes the environment with sights, sounds, and smell that are indicative of an industrial reality. But it also provides stable employment with a wide range of incomes that allow people in this community to provide modest lifestyles for their families.
Arnoldo Vargas received his BA from UCLA in fine art in 1999 and is a current MFA candidate of Photography and New Media at CalArts in Valencia, CA. His work has been exhibited nationally and internationally with his most recent exhibition Tan Legos de Dios at Galeria Autonoma, UNAM, in Mexico City. Solo exhibitions include In Memoriam at theMain Gallery, CalArts, Valencia, CA., Stardust at Space 47, San Jose, CA., Welcome Wilmington at Monte Vista, Highland Park, CA., and Artifice Orange at Slanguage, Wilmington, CA. His work was featured in Museo de Anthropolocura, curated by Guillermo Gomez-Pena, the Wight Gallery at UCLA, Los Angeles, CA., and the Main Gallery at the University of Texas, Dallas. He is a grantee of the Michael Jordan Foundation, and a recipient of the Gelman Trust Scholarship for graduate studies. He is a native of Wilmington, California, where he currently teaches advanced placement art and photography at Banning High School.