Artist uses unconventional methods to get point across

By Lourdes Espinoza


Photographs come alive through the works of Los Angeles-based artist Shizu Saldamando.

Using unconventional canvases like notebook paper, wood pieces and bed sheets, Saldamando’s artwork concentrates on subculture, loved ones and pastimes.

Putting a spin on her everyday events have won over her audience as it deals with complex human interactions among her tight-knit group of friends and outings having had lived in Los Angeles for the past 15 years.

Born and raised in San Francisco’s Mission District, Saldamando relocated to East Los Angeles and it quickly reminded her of home.

She received her B.A from the School of Arts and Architecture as well as her Master’s degree in art from the California Institute of the Arts and is a co-founder of Monte Vista Projects, an artist-run cooperative.

Instead, she portrays her work as a representation of complex human interaction in an effort to stray away from cultural politics.

“The work is a little bit less of a cultural excavation but more of a personal narrative of my life,” Saldamando says, “Not just figuring out who I am, but more of homage pieces. A lot of it has to do with primarily in East LA or South LA. A lot of it has to do with the way a documentation of my friends in different social situations since I took a lot of pictures. Primarily, it’s portraiture of my friends.”

Most of her drawings began with a photograph and can be found etched on differing canvases using ink, oil paint, pencil or colored pencils.

Saldamando has been featured in an array of exhibitions alongside artists like Hye Yeon Nam, Sarah Lerina Riedmann and Zhang Chun Hong.

“When You Sleep: A Survey of Shizu Saldamando,” her first West Coast solo exhibition will be showcased on September 13 at the Vincent Price Art Museum.

“I got started around these parts and going to UCLA and working at Self-Help Graphics. I got to know the city more and it made it feel like home. This has always been on my radar to do a show. I’m excited.”

According to Saldamando through, “Paying homage to the social subcultures of Los Angeles is a key part of my work, and the catalog I intend to produce will capture this aspect.    ”

In the past, her work has been displayed at places like LA Mart, Luckman Fine Arts Complex and the Japanese American National Museum.

In an effort to raise $12,000 to launch her own catalog project, Saldamando accepted donations through USA Projects and reached well over $15,000.

Based on the amounts donated, people received anything from a personal thank you note to an 8’’ x 10’’ oil painting as well as a signed copy of the catalog and published recognition as project supporter in the catalog.

Award-winning graphic designer Hazel Mandujano will help produce this publication.

A particular installation named “18 With A Bullet” showcased ballpoint pen ink drawings on large patterned bed sheets. This installation focused on intimate details illustrated by two young women embraced and engaging in a kiss.

A multi-layered cultural stance was well-illustrated in her video installation titled ‘Translation.’ Here, she captures her grandmother translating a short soap opera piece in Japanese.

Shedding light into her history, the basis of this installation illustrated the connection between different generations as “culture becomes reinterpreted and redefined with every generation,” Saldamando says.

‘Stay Gold’ featured a number of pieces using oil paint on gold leaf and wood in a collage style.

“Cat and Carm” shows two women kissing while “Carm’s Crew” depicts three young women posing for a picture with a background reminiscent of a Japanese sun utilizing gold leaf as the rays.

Having received the California Community Foundation’s Fellowship, she currently teaches drawing to continuation high school students in Los Angeles and is learning to tattoo.

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