Monday, November 12, 2012

Downey Museum of Art Presents "A Day in Downey" A Pop Up Art Show: A Change Is Gonna Come!

Downey Museum of Art
***Disclaimer: By no means am I simplifying or saying that the Civil Rights Movement, is on the same level as the art movement in Downey. In fact it holds a huge significant place in history and within human culture. I am simply stating that the parallel is of knowing that a change is going to come in the arts movement in Downey. Plus this song holds a special place in my heart.***

     Sam Cooke's  powerful song "A Change Is Gonna Come" filled the speakers and the atmosphere at one point towards the end of the Downey Museum of Arts pop up art show. This song, in this atmosphere made an impression on me. Sam Cooke originally wrote the song about discrimination and racism about America in 1963. I found a parallel within this song and within the art movement trying to re-establish itself in Downey. This parallel was that of overcoming the stigma of how people in Downey see their local artist and museum, as well as how the art movement not only within the city, but amongst the art community can be seen and changed for the better. This review is composed of the highlights of the change that I can see coming for the arts and suggestions for how the Downey Museum of Art can continue to raise the bar to make sure that the change is gonna come.
    The beginning of the change was the choice of venue for the pop up art show, which was held at the Paramount Auto Center.  The space for the venue was generously donated by the owners, the Beltran Family. You might think that this would be an odd place to hold a pop up art show, but the reality of it was that it wasn't.  It was an unconventional space turned into a visual interest that did not distract but only enhanced the viewing experience for this one night.
   The way that the visual experience was enhanced was merely the show room's structure. The show room was shaped in a half circle, which led the people experiencing the art show to start at one point and to walk the half circle path toward the end. They then would come out to an opening filled with tables and chairs to sit and watch the live acts. The live acts, Eddie Grey, Harvey Birdman Trio, and a mystery band that night were appropriately placed in the venue, were appropriate for the patrons coming to see the art show, and were overall quality acts.
   The highlights of the pop up art show was the quality of the artwork and that the art reflected the theme of the show. The theme of the show was "A Day in Downey." The different types of art medium that was curated by George Manzanilla and Don Lamkin ranged from paintings, mixed media, illustration, and photography. The other highlight was the presentation of the artwork, especially the proper set up of the title cards for each piece, that were expertly done by George Redfox. The correct set up of the title cards was something that impressed me in a pop up art show setting. It just made it feel very professional. I am also sure that it helped the viewer to know what medium they were looking at, and help potential buyers of the artwork make their decisions on what to purchase that night.
    There were many great pieces in the exhibit. The talents of Ricky Ostendi, Bumblebee, Lana Joy were also pieces I admired.  However the piece that really griped me was a painted portrait piece by artist Miki Lorena K. This piece had facial features that were exaggerated, and that exaggeration of small and big were done asymmetrically. The piece not only was painted beautifully, but it also conveyed to me a real feeling of sadness, and depth. You could really feel that the artist had something to say, and that she has lived a life that she has gained wisdom from and expresses it through her art. I would have loved to have seen more pieces that either were conceptual or made you think, feel, and relate such as this piece did in future shows. This is what successful art pieces are all about.
   The few pieces that they displayed from their permanent collection was breath taking, and reminded myself and everyone why they donated and came again in the first place. That we all want to preserve pieces from the first Contemporary Art Museum in LA County back from when it started in Downey in 1955. As well as to see many more exhibits eventually in a permanent location for the museum.
   The food and beverages of the night were appropriately placed, priced, and selected by generous donations from many places from Downey one of which was LA Buns. The sliders that they provided were absolutely delicious. This was what I expected from an art pop up show, as far as the food and beverages are concerned.
   The clothing that all the members of the Downey Museum of Art, and the volunteers was appropriate for this event. I truly appreciated the fact that everyone came to the event with class not only in how they conducted themselves with the people that came to the show, but in their overall visual appearance. You can tell that they took this event seriously and with great pride in what they accomplished. This I'm sure resonated with other people at the event, which is important for the guest to know that you take the show you put on seriously from top to bottom.
   What also was successful about this art show was the mere fact that the art and the appreciation for each artist in the show came first. That the food, drinks, and entertainment did not become the main priority or attraction to the Downey Museum of Art, or to the people that came to see the art. This is something that came across clear, and that could only continue to propel the mission of the arts movement in Downey forward toward change.
   The small suggestions I would give to the Downey Museum of Art for future art shows is to expand the different mediums that are curated into the shows. The mediums I suggest would be metal work, jewelry, sculpture, fiber, and possibly graphic design. Exposing these different mediums would give more variety for the people to see, and would open the minds of future artist perhaps to a medium they could fall in love with and exercise their creativity with. The jewelry and fiber pieces could also bring in money, as who doesn't want to buy wearable pieces of art? As well as to put more emphasis on all the important information, such as the art, artist names, and where future artist that want to show in the future can make contact with the museum in the first half of the program. I would shy away from dispersing the important info amongst the wonderful sponsors that took part in the event. Programs are tricky things, and people generally don't look much further if they see a bunch of ads, and you don't want them to miss the important information about the event and the artist/artwork that they will be seeing.
   Overall "A Day in Downey" pop up art show was a successful event, put on by the Downey Museum of Art. A show that art was the event, the artist were given respect, and the food, entertainment, dress code etc came second as it should be. It was definitely a breath of fresh air that a pop up art show could put on such an amazing and polished show in an unconventional setting. It is reassuring to me that as long as the Downey Museum of Art can continue to raise the bar on the different mediums of art that they can show, have many more unconventional or conventional locations to exhibit the art, bring a more conceptual meaning to the title/theme for future shows, that the art movement in Downey will prevail over the stigma of art in Downey, or art in general. I can say with out a doubt that a change is gonna come!

For more information & some photos of the night :

Twitter: @downeymoa
Instagram: downeymoa

Board of Directors:
Barbara Beard
Hector Beltran
Pam Lee
George Manzanilla
Ara Oshagan
David Tseklenis
Harold Tseklenis
George Redfox
Alex Saab
Don Lamkin

A few photos of the artwork, the set up, and the atmosphere of the night:

Left to Right:  Valentin Flores owner of Stay Gallery and Andrew Wahlquist Founder of the Downey Arts Coalition chatting during the event

 A piece from the permanent collection:

Ricky Staah's piece being observed by George Redfox:

 Bumblebee's piece:

Mika Lorena's piece:

Board member of Downey Museum of Art, Pam Lee 

Last five shots by George Redfox.

Flyer for the event:

 Iconoclast song of the day: Sam Cooke's "A Change Is Gonna Come"

Iconoclast Interest of the Day: John Berger "Ways of Seeing" - A BAFTA award-winning series with John Berger, which rapidly became regarded as one of the most influential art programs ever made. BBC Documentary, 1972 


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