I really did not mean to wait for the month that the show closes to post a review. It was more that I have been really busy. Now that the close has been announced, October 25, I feel pressed to make this happen.
The first Long Beach City Council meeting I went to since I moved had an enthusiastic announcement about a mural show, POW WOW. Certainly I cannot be the only person who thought it was going to be by, for and about Native Americans.
They had my full attention. My Potawatomi ancestry is important to me and I would support this city wide installation. I had read that Long Beach is the second most diverse city in the country. Opening day I drove to the central office, picked up a program and took off to drive to all nine sites.
Not necessarily obvious in a non-binary state of mind but the documentation suggests there are 3 women among fifteen artists. Again, though not definitive, there was not a preponderance of Native or Indigenous artists. I feel confident in saying that the art was not bringing Native consciousness to the city.
I suppose this all leads to one very surprising conclusion, the title was appropriated and, as such, was not acknowledged.
Moving on to the primary and housed mural show, I went to the Long Beach Museum of Art. Several months before, I had made a visit. I had asked the docent if there were any works by women on view at the museum. She told me that she didn’t know. Using only names, which is not very reliable, my friend and I found one. But I held great hope for Vitality and Verve: Transforming the Urban Landscape, the new show.
Again, not certain evidence, of the twenty artists, a few are women. Some of the names are gender neutral but lets roll with 15%. (which I think is high). I leave it to you, Aaron Horkey, Alex Yanes, Andrew Schoultz, Audrey Kawasaki, Brendan Monroe, Brandon Shigeta, Cryptik, Esao Andrews, Greg ‘Craola’ Simkins, Hot Tea, James Bullough, Jeff Soto, John S. Culqui, Low Bros, Meggs, Nosego, Nychos, Saber, and Tristan Eaton.
No matter the artists broken down into binary genders, a serious cultural goal with some, heretofore, resolutions unclear, let the work speak for itself. Where are the women? Where are the WELL women? Where are women with clothes on ? Or women not cut into parts lining one of the largest walls.
The first woman is floating in pale lime green and too thin to carry a feather. Message received. Looking to the far wall, there is a woman in her underwear, lying on a sheet, cut into dozens of pieces. One repeating gash severing her head. Trust me this is about as good as it gets. Turning the few corners in the show, it did not get any more womanly. Nothing fecund, well, wholesome, seasonal, celestial.
I have to admit, I have been taught by the best; The Guerrilla Girls ~ both Guerilla Girls On Tour and Guerrilla Girls, Inc. It is really quite simple: where are the women, in the art and artists? Are they naked and tortured? Are they well and valuable beyond being a sex object.
The show is going to close October 25. Interesting that LBMA’s latest email includes an annoucement about a new acquisition, Salmon Stripe by Gail Factor which will be on view November 19. Others in the Oceanview Gallery will include works by Thelma deGoede Smith, Helen Lundeberg, Judy Chan, Karena Massengill, Mylene Raiche, and Joan Austin. I am looking forward to seeing it.
But, really, Pow Wow?? Really?