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RAP NEWSLETTER  //  No. 016  //  October 8, 2019


WHAT'S INSIDE


  • RAP Featured Event: RACIAL RADICALS Happening Thursday
  • Calendar: The Festival for All Skid Row Artists on its 10th Anniversary!
  • Art on View: Oh’s Korean queer spaces, George Rodriguez, and Julie Mehretu!
  • RAP CHAT:  with Chelo Montoya of CAAM and LACMA
Welcome to the sixteenth edition of the RAP Newsletter, an occasional publication from RAP USC, an interdisciplinary collaborative funded by the Provost at the University of Southern California researching the intersection of race, arts, and placemaking. For more information about us visit the RAP Website and to submit newsletter items for inclusion email us. —The Editors

FEATURED EVENTS


RAP FEATURED EVENT
RACIAL RADICALS: GENERATING NEW “WOKE” WORDS
THU, OCT 10 @ 7pm
Location:
USC CAMMILLERI HALL
Join RAP for a multimedia event featuring Milwaukee-based visual and spoken word artists Fondé Bridges, Mikal Floyd-Pruitt, and Dasha Kelly. RACIAL RADICALS: GENERATING NEW “WOKE” WORDS draws from hip hop and the Black urban experience, the trio will bring their linguistic, cultural, and collaborative talents to USC, where they will work with audience members to identify familiar-but-unnamed racial experiences and generate new language to describe them. Building on previous work with USC students in classes taught by RAP faculty PI Taj Frazier (Communication), RAP faculty member Lanita Jacobs (American Studies and Ethnicity), and LaVonna Lewis (Public Policy), the artists and attendees will brainstorm, sprout, and spread new vocabulary for a new era. Organized by Andreas Kratky (Cinematic Arts), Anne Bray (Freewaves), and Sara Daleiden (MKE<->LAX) in collaboration with the Designing Equity initiative. Presented by USC Visions and Voices.  RAP faculty member partner: David Sloane


CALENDAR


OCT 5 - NOV 3 // CURRENT:LA FOOD
VARIOUS TIMES + LOCATIONS

CURRENT : LA FOOD puts a new spin on traditional international triennials by democratizing the way people access art. The initiative shifts art away from the museum environment and places temporary public art projects and public programs in the neighborhoods of Los Angeles where residents and visitors live, work, and play. Through major public art commissions and public programs with local, international, and multigenerational artists, CURRENT : LA FOOD will explore the multiplicity of food and the placement of projects within LA’s burgeoning public transit infrastructure to allow for greater exploration and access, bringing these projects directly to residents and visitors throughout the city. Through an intricate partnership between artists and community members, CURRENT : LA FOOD will shed new light on the precarious balance between pleasure and peril found in food today, and the many ways food gives expression to social and political life.

TUES OCT 8 @ 7PM // ART4FSN: SPACES TO GROW, SPACES TO PROTECT
FAR EAST LOUNGE 
This panel discussion presents a complement of leaders of locally-based arts organizations that engage with members of culturally underserved neighborhoods throughout Los Angeles to encourage creation, activism, and social change. From Boyle Heights to the Crenshaw District, and from Little Tokyo to Chinatown, “Spaces to Grow, Spaces to Protect” investigates the ways in which arts and activism span the wide range of issues that impact communities of color throughout greater Los Angeles and beyond. Panelists: Betty Avila (Self Help Graphics), RAP seed grant partner Ben Caldwell (KAOS Network), Sonia Mak (Art Salon Chinatown), Nobuko Miyamoto (Great Leap, FandangObon), Hipolito (Polo) Munoz (Creating Creators), and Steven Wong (LA Municipal Art Gallery).

FRI OCT 11 @ 7PM // LET'S END HOMELESSNESS - A COMEDY BENEFIT SHOW
BOOTLEG THEATER
Our city is facing a crisis unlike anything we've ever seen, and sometimes it can feel like there's nothing we can do to stop it. However, there are some incredible people on the frontlines of homelessness doing amazing work to solve this. And hell, why not have some fun while we do it? We warmly invite you to a night of comedy and community, to join together with organizers, activists, and neighbors, who all want to help build a better Los Angeles. Featuring: your host Adam Conover (Adam Ruins Everything), Joel Kim Booster (NBC's Sunnyside), Rhea Butcher (Conan), an interview with an Urban Poverty expert and 2020 City Council Candidate Nithya Raman, and a very special guest! No one will be turned away for lack of funds.

SUN OCT 13 @ 2PM // PRACTICING ABOLITION: THOUGHTS = CONVERSATIONS = KNOWLEDGE
NAVEL LA 
A creative practice goes beyond the physical activity of making creative items; it includes the influences, ideas, research, and materials, as well as tools and skills that were utilized in the creation of these items. Similarly, an abolitionist practice, working to eradicate the prison industrial complex (PIC), also includes a wide variety of elements that are consistently practiced to allow for a sustainable abolition to flourish. Practicing Abolition is a two-part series organized by gloria galvez that not only acknowledges the realm in which these two practices intersect, but furthermore aims to nurture and aid abolitionist creative practices. Within this series, we will explore various contributing elements such as research, education, conversations, organizing, collaboration, ethics, boundaries, and so on that a person, especially one in the professional creative field, utilizes to continue both a practice of abolition and creativity without one compromising the other.

TUES OCT 22 @ 7:30PM // BEATRIZ CORTEZ: A DIALOGUE OF NOMADS
LACE
Reading is a creative act that brings a text to life and allows it to unfold into new contexts and acquire new meanings. In A Dialogue of Nomads, artist Beatriz Cortez explores the act of engaging with the ideas of French philosophers such as Deleuze, Guattari, Clastres, or Foucault from her own experience and in conversation with other Central American thinkers in Los Angeles and in Central America as an active process of creation and transformation across borders, and across time and space.

SAT OCT 26 + SUN, OCT 27 // THE FESTIVAL FOR ALL SKID ROW ARTISTS
GLADYS PARK 
The Festival for All Skid Row Artists is a two-day festival of performing and visual art with plenty of music, showcasing the diverse range of talents among Skid Row residents. Taking place in Gladys Park (corner of 6th Street and Gladys Avenue), the festival has become one of the most anticipated grassroots cultural events in Skid Row where over 100 Skid Row Artists perform or display their artwork to enthusiastic audiences. LAPD partners with Studio 526 and United Coalition East Prevention Project (UCEPP) to produce the festival. This year, the Goethe-Institut is an additional producing partner. The Goethe-Institut is organizing the event series “Worlds of Homelessness,” which will include discussions, music, and film screenings, and begins Tuesday, October 22, at LA Poverty Department’s Skid Row History Museum & Archive (with additional sites at Sci-Arc and Navel). The project brings together local and international artists, architects, scholars, and others, and culminates with the two days of the festival.


RAP CHAT


This month we feature an interview with RAP community seed grant partner Chelo Montoya, who until recently was the Director of Education and Public Programs at the California African American Museum and is now the LA County Museum of Art’s Assistant Vice President of Adult Education and Public Programs.

Both this year and last, Chelo collaborated with RAP Professor Taj Frazier, as well as with other RAP community seed grant partners Ben Caldwell of Kaos Network and Karen Mack of LA Commons, to develop programming for the Leimert Park Heritage Festival. She is interviewed by RAP PI Professor Annette Kim.

AK:  Can you tell us about the Afrofuturist Block Party in Leimert Park? What did the RAP seed grant collaboration help support this year?

CM:  We worked together to provide hands-on art workshops at the 11th annual Leimert Park Heritage Festival, and this year our workshop was about creating Afro-futurist jewelry. We also had a spoken word artist performance. It’s a challenge for the festival with a non-profit budget to cover all the logistics of the festival so the seed grant contributed to paying performing artists, covering AV costs, and providing materials for the workshop. Also, by doing this kind of programming together with CAAM, Kaos Network, LA Commons, and RAP USC, we were able to contribute institutional support to the community. Working with a minimal state budget, I would say yes to as many collaborations as I could as long as it fit with CAAM’s mission to do public programs that align with our exhibits currently on view. This year it was perfect to connect to the solo exhibition of Leimert Park–based artist Timothy Washington, whose work celebrates the limitless innovation of Afrofuturism.

AK:  I’ve been hearing LA’s arts institutions all agreeing on the need to physically decentralize their cultural resources, instead of being concentrated in the northern center of the city and the need to create satellite outposts. Why do you think the physical location of the arts institutions matter?

CM:  I think it’s important to be present at a community’s own on-site offerings. We wanted to build upon what the Leimert Park heritage festival has already been doing, to be unobtrusive in our participation, and to continue building a relationship with the community. We hope that being at the festival helps connect people to our free museum and makes them more likely to visit.

It’s also important that this is the second year that we collaborated together and built upon what we did last year. Last year we were able to connect the workshop with our exhibit of Shinique Smith’s work and distribute donations to those in need.  Building a relationship with a community takes commitment and is an ongoing process.

AK:  Can you speak to intersectionality, as a Latina working in an African-American museum?

CM:  I know, I wondered about that when I first applied for the job. But, CAAM wanted to be intersectional and do dynamic programming that could reach broader audiences. For example, you can see it in their Chinese Caribbean exhibit that was part of Pacific Standard Time. 

The part-time staff is also very diverse and that’s important for community development and cultivating access points.

The programming is also intersectional in terms of age by doing things like movement-based workshops. People really like going to the museum in work-out gear! And children and youth were showing their parents the moves, learning together. I was interested in cultivating the museum as a social space.  At the makers-fest events, elders worked with their grandchildren and the parents really got into the workshops too. It was really lovely to see people enjoying an experience together, creating a memory in people, connecting them to place.

AK:  Again the importance of space and place… Speaking of which, can you tell me a little bit about your background? Where did you grow up?

CM:  Fresno County. I grew up in a rural town with 1,200 people and no gas station. I planted trees on my father’s walnut farm when I was 5 years old.  When I was at UC Santa Cruz, I wanted to paint community murals. I actually reached out to and was mentored by famed muralist Malaquias Montoya – and by coincidence ended up marrying his nephew Richard Montoya – and worked with a youth probation program on a mural that is still across from the Santa Cruz boardwalk.

I decided to get a masters at USC Roski in Public Arts studies (now Curatorial Studies) to learn more about how to give back to communities like the one I grew up in. 

I saw Suzanne Lacy (now RAP member and Professor at USC Roski) give a presentation in Ireland and realized she was also from Central California…

AK:  Again the Central Valley!? It seems like so many of my wonderful RAP colleagues are from the Central Valley! Suzanne, Nao Bustamante, Jonathan Crisman… 

CM:…I worked with Suzanne for a decade building Otis’ MFA program in Public Practice, with radical field-based pedagogies. I also worked at Metro in their public arts division and that’s where I first worked with Ben Caldwell and Karen Mack.

AK:  I didn’t realize how far back you had been working with Ben and Karen.

CM:  I am always about weaving things back. For example, I also worked with Otis to host Kara Walker at CAAM through their Mandy & Cliff Einstein Visiting Artist Series earlier this year.  I like to bring things back to institutions, even after I leave, and reinforce relationships. 

AK:  What has been your process for coming up with such great programming?

CM:  At CAAM I set up a method for programming where each season I held a department workshop that brought everyone together: curators, docents, part-time staff, USC interns, etc.  Curators present what exhibits are in the works and then we brainstorm everyone’s ideas for programming. Throughout the day people stick up post-it notes with ideas and at the end of the day every note is read and each voice heard. CAAM has incredible volunteers with a lot of knowledge. They come up with great ideas by working together. For example, we came up with a “Gospel-oke” idea for people to sing at the museum in connection to our How Sweet the Sound: Gospel Music in Los Angeles exhibit last year. Our librarian Denise McIver knew an amazing conductor who brought in a reverend who played the piano. It was one of my favorite examples of seeing us work together as a team to make things happen. I wasn’t sure how many people were going to show up and if folks would be into it but it was quite popular. It was moving and magical when the conductor concluded by organizing the group into basses, altos, tenors, and sopranos and we all sang “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”

I am excited about the next chapter for the museum. CAAM’s new Deputy Director who is filling Naima Keith’s vacancy, Cameron Shaw, is going to be great! I left behind a handbook I developed and maybe it will be helpful but new leaders will emerge and bring their own strengths as well.

AK:  Both you and Naima Keith are now at LACMA.  Congratulations! We look forward to continuing to work with you!


ART ON VIEW



SEPT 21 - NOV 02 // INHWAN OH: MY OWN BLIND SPOTS 

COMMONWEALTH AND COUNCIL
BAIK ART
Inhwan Oh’s My Own Blind Spots couples video surveillance with a meditation on the order of seeing and being seen to reveal processes of social and cultural subversion synced across two galleries: Commonwealth and Council and Baik Art.  How do we disavow social norms to navigate difference? How do we feel out the margins of visibility and find parallel spaces for othered communities to exist and thrive? South Korean conceptual artist Oh explores gaps in the surveilling view, the transition marked by a switch in perspective, the fruition of queer spaces—transient but always prevalent, organized by word-of-mouth—in cities where homosexuality is illicit. 


OCT 05 - FEB 08 // AMERICAN MONUMENT

BEALL CENTER
American Monument is an artwork by lauren woods that prompts consideration of the cultural circumstances under which African-Americans lose their lives to police brutality. A participatory inter-media monument, the project is conceived as nomadic and continually expanding, moving across the country year-to-year, “unveiled” at universities, museums, storefronts, community centers, and churches. The Beall Center installation will be the first full iteration of the project.  The artwork provides a vehicle for analyzing the complex relationships among constructed race, material violence, structural power, and monumentality itself.


OCT 05 - FEB 16 // RODNEY MCMILLIAN: BROWN: VIDEOS FROM THE BLACK SHOW

THE UNDERGROUND MUSEUM 
The Underground Museum warmly welcomes all to the latest exhibition featuring the brilliant sculptor, painter, and performance artist, Rodney McMillian, a Los Angeles–based artist whose work addresses how American political and social histories shape issues of class, race, and gender. In his first solo museum presentation on the West Coast, McMillian brings together his long-standing interest in the representation of the American landscape with an exploration of home as a place and a state of mind.


OCT 6 - JAN 12 // CALAFIA: MANIFESTING THE TERRESTRIAL PARADISE
ARMORY CENTER FOR THE ARTS 
The early 16th century novel Las Sergas de Esplandian, by Garci Rodriguez de Montalvo, describes a mythical California as a rugged island paradise, populated entirely by women, and ruled by the great Black queen Calafia with the help of her army of warriors and their man-eating griffins. This legendary version of California serves as a point of departure to examine the region and its peoples as a collective territory, criss-crossed and scarred by political, psychological, and geological borders. Featuring projects from contemporary artists on both sides of the border, the exhibition weaves together urgent questions about feminism, indigenous rights, gentrification and displacement, misogyny, post-colonialism, and resistance movements into and through the current and historical political climate of the region. The exhibition will feature Roski 2019 Graduate noé olivas and current Roski candidate Diane Williams.


OCT 12 - JAN 25 // STEPHEN TOWNS: RUMINATION AND A RECKONING

ART + PRACTICE 
At the center of Stephen Towns’s show Rumination and a Reckoning is a monumental installation titled Birth of a Nation (2014), which showcases a quilt featuring a Black woman nursing a white infant against the backdrop of the first official flag of the United States. Suspended above a mound of earth, the quilt will be surrounded by Towns’s Story Quilts (2016–2019), a cycle of works in luminous fabrics and glass beads that chronicle the life of Nat Turner and the 1831 rebellion he led against slavery. A pair of quilted oval portraits of Nat and Cherry Turner (2018) adds a significant dimension to this narrative, considering the role of a marriage in historic events. This exhibition is presented by Art + Practice in collaboration with The Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) and is curated by Cecilia Wichmann, Associate Curator of Contemporary Art at The BMA.


OCT 19 - FEB 29 // GEORGE RODRIGUEZ: DOUBLE VISION
VINCENT PRICE ART MUSEUM 
George Rodriguez: Double Vision is the first career retrospective of photographer George Rodriguez, spanning over four decades of images, including civil rights activism, popular culture, and everyday urban life. The exhibition features work from all aspects of Rodriguez’s career, following his practice across commercial photography, photojournalism, record label publicity, red carpet photography, civil rights documentary, and celebrity portraiture from the late 1950s through the early 1990s. Rodriguez’s photographs of Los Angeles and its multiple communities represent an uncommon convergence of Hollywood celebrity culture and Chicano social movements. Rodriguez captured defining moments in American cultural and political history, while simultaneously navigating seemingly disparate worlds. This collection is also available as a book with the same name, edited and with texts by RAP PI Professor Josh Kun.


NOV 3 - MAY 17 // JULIE MEHRETU

LACMA
Co-organized by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and The Whitney Museum of American Art, Julie Mehretu is a mid-career survey that will unite approximately 36 paintings with 41 works on paper dating from 1996 to the present by Julie Mehretu (b. 1970, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia). The first-ever comprehensive retrospective of Mehretu’s career, the show covers over two decades of her examination of history, colonialism, capitalism, geopolitics, war, global uprising, diaspora, and displacement through the artistic strategies of abstraction, architecture, landscape, movement, and, most recently, figuration. Mehretu’s play with scale, as evident in her intimate drawings and large canvases and complex techniques in printmaking, will be explored in depth. Mehretu received her MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design, and among many awards and honors is a recipient of a MacArthur Foundation Genius Grant (2005) and a U.S. State Department National Medal of Arts (2015).

Copyright © 2019 RAP at USC (c/o SLAB, the Spatial Analysis Lab), All rights reserved.

RAP is sponsored by the USC Office of the Provost Collaboration Fund.
Visit the USC RAP website by clicking here.

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RAP at USC (c/o SLAB, the Spatial Analysis Lab)
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