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Past Exhibitions 2009

Mark Dean Veca: Revenge of Phantasmagoria (Guadalajara, Mexico)
November 28, 2009 - January 10, 2010

Instituto Cultural de Cabañas, Guadalajara, Mexico
A site-specific painting installation at the 2009 Guadalajara International Book Fair (Feria Internacional del Libro de Guadalajara or FIL Guadalajara). Veca is renowned for creating paintings, drawings and installations that portray surreal cartoons, psychedelic landscapes, and pop culture iconography while also being inspired by long-established decorative motifs. The FIL is an ideal setting for Veca's non-linear narrative style and the symbolism found in his work. He is able to bridge traditional painting techniques made famous by Mexican muralists with the improvisation and spontaneity of today's graffiti artists. The exhibition is organized by the Ben Maltz Gallery at Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles and sponsored by The National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with the Department of Cultural Affairs for the City of Los Angeles, and the 2009 FIL Guadalajara.

Press Release  /  Slideshow

Travis Somerville: Dedicated to the Proposition...
October 3 - December 12, 2009

Exhibition related events
Wednesday October 7, 11:15am-12:30pm
Conversation with the artist and Dr. Carol Branch, Director of the Student Resources Center and Otis Faculty Member
Saturday November 7, 11am
Exhibition tour and conversation with the artist, Gallery Director Meg Linton, and Mark Steven Greenfield, Artist and Director of the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery

Share your own experiences on our exhibition-related blog:

Dedicated to the Proposition... is a solo exhibition of San Francisco based artist Travis Somerville organized by the OTIS Ben Maltz Gallery and travelling in 2010 through 2011. The exhibition presents a new body of work including painting, drawing, sculpture and installation. The exhibition title refers to Abraham Lincoln's historic Gettysburg Address delivered during the Civil War: "Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal."  In this speech, Lincoln asks the nation to honor its fallen by challenging its citizens to fully realize and achieve ". . . a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

The election of Barack Obama in January 2009 just days prior to the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's birth in Hardin Town, Kentucky, seems to fulfill the commitment that Lincoln makes to the soldiers interred at Gettysburg. However there is still much work to be done in uniting and healing the nation. With this body of work, Somerville explores the complex inheritance of a nation trying to live up to Lincoln's challenge of being a nation not divided, but truly "dedicated to the proposition…" The artist is interested in investigating the tension and contradiction in America's realization of equality and freedom for all between the numerous examples of the nation's success manifest in Obama's election and first 100 days and the nation's failure evidenced by the enduring and shameful aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. 

Travis Somerville was born in 1963 in Atlanta, Georgia to white civil rights activists—an Episcopal preacher and school teacher—and grew up in various cities and rural towns throughout the Southern United States. The geography of his upbringing is important to mention because the cultural implications of growing up in the south in the 1960s during a period of immense social upheaval has deeply informed the narrative content of his work. His work simultaneously tries to reconcile his personal struggle with his own Southern Christian upbringing and the overt tumultuous racial politics of then with the mixed messaging backlash of now. According to the artist in an interview with Nathan Larramendy, "My southern identity will always play a part in my work because that is who I am. . . I feel the overall theme [of my work] is oppression and greed. I want the oppressed to be validated and the oppressors to be guilty. I want people to realize that we are all connected in some way and we are responsible for each other."

Somerville studied at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore and at the San Francisco Art Institute. Select solo exhibitions include Another Song of the South at University of Georgia, Athens; American Cracker Too at Alfred C. Glassell Jr. Exhibition Gallery, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge; and New Work at University of Houston, Texas. His work has been included in numerous exhibitions including: the Smithsonian Institution's traveling exhibition In the Spirit of Martin Luther King: the Living Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.; Whiteness: A Wayward Construction at the Laguna Art Museum, Laguna Beach, California; and Lincoln: Man, Myth, and Memory at the Amistad Center for Art and Culture in Hartford, Connecticut.

His work is included in the permanent collections of the di Rosa Preserve: Art & Nature, the Achenbach Collection of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, the Laguna Art Museum, and the San Jose Museum of Art, among others. He has garnered critical attention in numerous publications including Art in America, Flash Art, Kitchen Sink, and The Washington Post. He is represented by Catharine Clark Gallery in San Francisco,

This exhibition is made possible in part by the generous support of Sandy Besser, Dr. Marcia R. Adelman, Jamie Brunson, Tim Campbell, Catherine Clark, Jeffery Dauber, Daniel G. and Linda Blacketer Dodt, Glenn Evans, Lisamarie Inesi, Marcus Keller, Nathan Larramendy, Martin and Marik Iki Maguss, Joanne and Philip Northrup, Talia Roven, and Ron and Michael Robinson Squier.

Press Release  /  "Critic's Pick" Review  /  Slideshow  /   Video: Artist Walk-thru

Bruce Yonemoto: Simulations
August 13 - September 3, 2009

Excerpted from an essay by Carole Ann Klonarides for OMAG 5:
Bruce Yonemoto ('79, OTIS MFA Fine Arts) has long been on a quest to re-present the reality borne out of a multitude of fictions experienced through the filters and layers of mass media. His single-channel videos, installations and photographic works consistently explore issues of representation and identity, and the fabrication of memory. To celebrate its 90th anniversary (in 2008), Otis commissioned Yonemoto to produce and premiere a new installation titled "Simulations." The title is a nod to French philosopher/theorist Jean Baudrillard (1929-2007), and his influential 1983 essay, published by Semiotext(e)'s new Foreign Agents Series. Yonemoto agrees with Baudrillard that we live in a world where Disneyland exists to make us believe that outside of the fantasy park is reality, when in fact, America is a Disneyland. In writing about "Simulations," Yonemoto describes his desire to recreate a childhood icon as "a hyper-real representation of Disneyland's Matterhorn thus finally making Disney's mountain the allegorical referent, the "real" Matterhorn of our collective memory."

Press Release / Image 1

Superficiality and Superexcrescence
June 27 - September 12, 2009

Superficiality and Superexcrescence features work by Amy Adler, Rebecca Campbell, Marcelino Gonçalves, Lia Halloran, Salomón Huerta, Elliott Hundley, Kurt Kauper, Elad Lassry, Blue McRight, Joel Morrison, Kori Newkirk, Tia Pulitzer, and Catherine Sullivan. Conceived in opposition to the hard and fast interior/exterior dialectic that cultural theorists like Frederic Jameson have used to contrast the modern and postmodern eras, this exhibition offers a close examination of the work of thirteen LA-based artists who are variously committed to the notion that deep cultural meaning inhabits—as code, nuance, and implication—the outer husk of the people and objects that populate our day-to-day lives, remaking superficiality not as a condition to be resisted, but rather one to be analyzed and manipulated. For these artists, surface and substance are not opposed properties, but equally present. Accordingly, each of these artists focuses on what is latent over what is manifest, on implication over demonstration, and on faint whispers over loud, declarative statements, not with the aim of privileging appearance over essence, but rather to suggest that appearance and essence co-mingle in the surfaces that surround us to generate cultural meaning.

This exhibition is initiated and sponsored by FOCA, organized by OTIS Ben Maltz Gallery, and curated by Christopher Bedford, Curator of Exhibitions at the Wexner Center for the Arts, The Ohio State University; Kristina Newhouse, Deputy Director of the MAK Center for Art and Architecture at the Schindler House in West Hollywood; and Jennifer Wulffson, an independent art historian and former senior editor of the Bibliography of the History of Art at the Getty Research Institute. The three curators are recipients of the Fellows of Contemporary Art's Curator's Award. Since 1975 FOCA has been initiating and sponsoring exhibitions and publications for emerging and mid-career California artists with the intention to collaborate with the art community at large and to nurture the expression of creative freedom.

The exhibition catalogue features essays by Christopher Bedford, Kristina Newhouse and John Welchman; catalogue entries on each artist by Jennifer Wulffson, and full-color reproductions of the artists' work. It is available for purchase in the Gallery.

Press Release  /  Slideshow

3 Solo Projects: Lynn Aldrich, Jessica Rath, Carrie Ungerman
April 18 - June 13, 2009

3 Solo Projects is the second in a series of exhibitions highlighting the work of Southern California artists. Lynn Aldrich, Jessica Rath, and Carrie Ungerman have each created a new site-specific installation. While each work is independent, they are tied to a larger conversation about natural resources such as water. The three sculptors use common, readily available materials in quantity: 25,000 clear plastic water bottles, dozens of Navajo white rain gutters, and gallons of liquid latex to make beautiful, tactile, and poignant experiences addressing key metaphors of abundance, scarcity, growth, and decline.

Lynn Aldrich
Aldrich is a visual artist who loves text and ideas but makes sculpture. She received an MFA from Art Center College of Design. Her work has been exhibited internationally at Paula Cooper Gallery in New York Art Affairs in Amsterdam, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Santa Monica Museum of Art, UCLA Hammer Museum of Art, and the Kampa Museum, Prague. Her work is held in many prominent private and public collections including the Calder Foundation; the Robert and Jereann Cheney collection; the Peter Norton collection; and the Alain Servais collection. Aldrich has received awards from J. Paul Getty Trust Fund Individual Artist Fellowship, City of Los Angeles Individual Artist Fellowship, and LACMA Purchase Award.

Jessica Rath
Rath received her BA from the University of Missouri in 1990 and an MFA from California Institute of the Arts in 1996. She creates lyrical, uncanny sculpture and installations from her unsettling interpretations of nature. Her work has garnered her an Arts Bridge Residency at Headlands Center for the Arts in San Francisco, a Los Angeles MTA commission and two grants from the Durfee Foundation, and was most recently exhibited at Glendale Community College, Kellogg Gallery (Cal Polytechnic) and in the solo show "SONG TO SNORE" at the Torrance Art Museum.

Carrie Ungerman
Carrie Ungerman was born and raised in Dallas, TX and lives and works in Los Angeles. As a visual artist who makes sculpture, installation and works on paper, she has participated in many artists residencies in the US and abroad. Ungerman was awarded the California Community Foundation (CCF) Visual Arts Artist Fellowship in 2005 and the City of Los Angeles (COLA) Individual Artist Fellowship in 2006. She received a BA from Brandeis University, a BFA and MFA from California Institute of the Arts and attended Showhegan School of Painting & Sculpture.

3 Solo Projects is made possible in part by grants from Durfee Foundation and Pasadena Art Alliance. A catalogue documenting the exhibition is available. Please contact the gallery or (310) 665-6909.

Press Release / Slideshow / Video: Artist Walk-Thru

The Future Imaginary
January 24 - March 28, 2009

The Future Imaginary featured work by 11 artists whose work responds to the new interactive DVD novel The Imaginary 20th Century by Norman Klein, Margo Bistis and Andreas Kratky. The exhibition curators Tom Leeser, Director of the Center for Integrated Media at California Institute of the Arts, and Meg Linton, Director of OTIS Ben Maltz Gallery and Public Programs, worked in collaboration with author Norman Klein and historian Margo Bistis to create this dynamic, kinetic and provocative interpretation of man's need to envision the future. The exhibition was sponsored by OTIS Ben Maltz Gallery and Public Programs, OTIS Board of Governors, The Center for Integrated Media at California Institute of the Arts, The David Bermant Foundation, and The Durfee Foundation. Featured Artists: Deborah Aschheim, Jeff Cain, Tom Jennings, Jon Kessler, Ed Osborn, Lea Rekow, Douglas Repetto, Phil Ross, Kari Rae Seekins and Aaron Drake, Susan Simpson.

Press Release  /  Online Catalogue  /  Slideshow  /  Videos: Introduction  /  Conversation