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Home People & Lifestyle Western Art Mexican Revolution Culture, Contemporary Western Art Exhibits Offer Fresh Look at the West

Los Angeles

Mexican Revolution Culture, Contemporary Western Art Exhibits Offer Fresh Look at the West

Two Unique Western Art Exhibits at the Autry National Center

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Two excellent Western art exhibitions on tap at the Autry National Center of the American West in Los Angeles-one open now and the other starting November 1-offer a new look at Mexican popular culture and contemporary views of what the West means to 50 artists with work created after 1990.

Currently underway now through January 4, 2009 is "Maverick Art," emphasizing work created after 1990 that offers a look at how contemporary artists see the West now as an artistic resource.

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While some artists explore the lingering presence of frontier icons such as cowboys and Indians, others offer new ways to connect Western myths with the modern experience. Along the way they reveal a dynamic place where tradition and innovation exist side-by-side.

"Maverick Art is about casting a wider net for our audience and the field of contemporary Western art alike. I'm interested not only in understanding how frontier mythos and imagery continues to influence our contemporary identity as Westerners, but also the emergence of newer themes, from freeway culture to the atomic bomb," said Amy Scott, Autry's Curator of Visual Arts.

Maverick Art is divided into three themes: Icons Past and Present, Religion and Ritual, and Land as Landscape.

In Icons Past and Present, the exhibit explores how imagery from the era of westward expansion-primarily that of the Plains Indian warrior and the cowboy-continues to influence visual culture in the modern West.

Devoted to a surge of contemporary interest in Spanish Colonial art, the Religion and Ritual exhibit looks at religion and ritual as a formative cultural value and source of ongoing artistic inspiration for many in the West. Blending overtly Catholic imagery such as crucifixes and the sacred heart with more secular icons like the low-rider, religion and ritual are seen as driving forces of contemporary culture.

Within historic Western art, perhaps no topic has received a more thorough artistic treatment than landscape and wilderness. The Land as Landscape exhibit presents a selection of contemporary artists who choose to venerate open spaces as a grand, if dwindling, American resource, while others investigate the tension between such ideals and the development or destruction of other parts of the Western landscape.

Unlike most exhibitions of contemporary Western art, Maverick Art is not limited to a single stylistic vision or a united group of artists. Rather, it combines a range of artistic practices at work in the West today-from representational work based on longstanding realist and cultural traditions to abstract artists exploring contemporary themes not traditionally associated with the term Western.

Bold Caballeros y Noble Bandidas

The other excellent Western art presentation at the Autry is "Bold Caballeros y Noble Bandidas," an exhibition that explores Mexican popular culture inspired by the Mexican Revolution of 1910.

The exhibit begins November 1 and runs through May 10, 2009.

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Bold Caballeros y Noble Bandidas explores the development of Mexican popular culture and United States-Mexico relations.

Organized by the Autry National Center in association with Arizona State University's Hispanic Research Center, the exhibition uses art, rare historical footage, feature film, music, and popular culture to experience and understand the monumental changes in the Americas that were initiated by the 1910 revolution.

"This exhibition is part of a museum-wide effort to explore the Latino experience in the American West and the cross-cultural influences that have shaped the past, present, and future of this region," explained Jonathan Spaulding, Executive Director of the Museum of the American West. "In better understanding the region as part of Latin America, we can better understand our future as part of an interconnected continent."

In addition to historic footage, movie reels, and music, the exhibition features fascinating artworks that combine revolutionary heroes and other bold outlaws (male and female) with the theme of the Day of the Dead. Works from the period of the Revolution by José Guadalupe Posada (died 1913), as well as contemporary artists, explore the roots and imagery of contemporary Chicano identity.

The Museum of the American West and Museum Store, located in Los Angeles near Griffith Park, are open Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. From June 1 to August 31, Thursday hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Admission is free on the second Tuesday of every month and free for veterans year-round.

 
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