Stylistic contemporary art on display at VPAM

A Slice of Life- Shizu Saldamando displays a detailed portrait of a smoker painted on a wood panel as one of the pieces on display in the Small Gallery of the Vincent Price Art Museum
A Slice of Life — Shizu Saldamando displays a detailed portrait of a smoker painted on a wood panel as one of the pieces on display in the Small Gallery of the Vincent Price Art Museum. CN/Jesus Figueroa

By Jesus Figueroa

Two artists show their unique styles to the Vincent Price Art Museum in two exhibits that showcase artwork yesterday.

The detail and fine art of Shizu Saldamando get displayed in the Small Gallery in her exhibit “When You Sleep: A Survey of Shizu Saldamando,” her first solo museum show.

“Karen Rapp had been following my work for a while and attended my first solo exhibition at Tropico de Nopal gallery a while back, before she was director at VPAM,” Saldamado said.

“So when she started working there, I think she had it in her mind that maybe I would show there one day,” she said.

The portrait drawings and paintings on display are of her friends and family in un-posed scenes. Her work depicts party scenes, club interactions and their private life.

“Karen approached me with the idea of doing a sort of retrospective of work spanning from the time I was an art student at UCLA to the present, so there wasn’t a lot of pressure to make an entirely new body of work,” Saldamando said.

“We agreed that because of the nature of a retrospective I would only need to produce a few new pieces. There are three new paintings and one drawing in the show that have never been exhibited before,” she said.

The artwork on display shows raw un-posed slice of life drawings, which viewers can appreciate. Each artwork is intricate and detailed with a sense of realism that make the art pop.

“Shizu’s friends, the subjects of many of her portraits, convey a stark beauty, made all the more powerful by the restrained backgrounds against which they’re depicted,” Director of the Vincent Price Art Museum Karen Rapp said.

“It’s as if Shizu uses the absence of contextual information, such as a room, color or tableau, to evoke presence. And it’s effective. Her subjects present themselves to us, revealing and holding back in equal measure,” she said.

The incredible work that Saldamando exhibits leads to branching out to see what else could be done to further exhibition.

“We also decided to produce a book of work to coincide with the exhibition, so that in itself took up a tremendous amount of time and resources in terms of fundraising and editing,” Saldamando said.

“We spent about a month culling online donations and another two months editing and designing the publication,” Saldamando said.

“We also decided that the catalog wouldn’t be an exact representation of the exhibit in that there would be some work in the catalog not in the exhibit and vice versa.

“But we also knew we wanted it finished in time to be available at the opening reception,” she said.

The crowd-funded book could not have been possible if not for crowd funding.

“The realization of this catalogue is due to enthusiastic and committed friends, family and admirers of Shizu,” Rapp said.

“I thank the more than 100 individuals who generously gave and exceeded the financial goals of the online fundraiser that made possible this publication,” she said.

The “When You Sleep” exhibit, which opened along side “La Luz de Germs” exhibit of Jaime “Germs” Zacarias in the “Hoy Space,” is one of three exhibits at the VPAM opening this month.

John Valadez opens his  exhibit in the Large Gallery later this month.

“It’s a bit intimidating to show with those guys, but at the same time, I am really honored and happy to exhibit with such skilled artists,” Saldomando said.

“John Valadez has been one of the biggest influences and inspirations to me as a younger artist, so the opportunity to be showcased alongside him is always really incredible,” she said.

Infectious- The germ inspired style of Jaime "Germs" Zacarias on display as paintings, sculptures and on the walls of the Hoy Space at the Vincent Price Art Museum.
Infectious —The germ inspired style of Jaime “Germs” Zacarias on display as paintings, sculptures and on the walls of the Hoy Space at the Vincent Price Art Museum. CN/Jesus Figueroa

The germ-inspired artwork of Jaime “Germs” Zacarias gets displayed in “La Luz de Germs” exhibit at Hoy Space.

The exhibit came to be after the Rapp attended one of Zacarias exhibits and the art stuck with her.

“His iconography, the germ, was memorable to me because it conveyed humor and a distorted, menacing reality. When I go to see work, I place a lot of importance on what sticks with me. Germs stuck with me. I saw his next solo show last year and I knew I wanted to offer him an exhibition,” Rapp said.

Zacarias gets his nickname from his high school days when he was a skater.

“‘Germs’ was a nickname given to me back in high school. I would say back in 1998 or 1999. It was given to me as a skating nickname. We use to skate around and everyone in the crew had a dumb name,” Zacarias said.

“When I started painting, I applied germs into my artwork, infecting walls,” he said.

The designs on the wall are part of the spectacular display that will fill the exhibit, which will include, for the first time in a Zacarias exhibit, sculptures made specifically for this exhibit. For the first time, Zacarias brings his artwork off the walls and onto a new medium.

“I am a full time artist. This is what I do for a living. I’m usually pairing, either walls on the street or in the studio,” Zacarias said.

This exhibit has given Zacarias a chance to reach beyond his comfort zone and gain a new experience. He unveils sculptures that are inspired by his canvas work.

“Jaime has worked so hard planning out all the details of his installation, even having work specially produced overseas employing incredible woodworking skills.

“Jaime is young (31 years old), largely self-taught, increasingly successful and talented. I think our students benefit from meeting artists who are going for it,” Rapp said.

From month to month, Zacarias has fluctuated his schedule, so he can dedicate his time to making the best artwork for this exhibit.

He has dedicated long hours to preparing and carefully putting everything together.

“The ‘Hoy Space’ is intended for artists to create a project that isn’t necessarily suited for a commercial gallery.

“It gives artists an opportunity to focus on one project and realize it in a museum setting with freedom,” Karen said.

Zacarias and Saldamando have displayed at a show together.

“Germs and I were in an exhibit curated by Cristina Ochoa at SHG a while back called ‘13×13,’ so I feel like it’s fitting we get to be showcased here together as well,” Saldamando said.

“I admire both of their practices and really feel like the work compliments itself in different ways,” she said.

“When You Sleep” and “La Luz de Germs” close Dec. 7th.

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