Opening Reception: Saturday, December 2 from 7-10PM
In Bed Sentence, the confluence of the corporeal violence embedded in a stained bedsheet juxtaposed with the historical context of domestic labor, specifically the artistry of sewing. This layering is further accentuated by the inclusion of a gendered material, exemplified by the delicate intricacies of lace. The intertwining threads assume a metaphorical semblance to a spiderweb, trapping in it not only the video projection but also implicating the observer in a complex web of socio-cultural narratives. The transformation of mundane objects such as toys and furniture explores the complexities of trauma through body and memory.
Attraction/repulsion, safety/danger, hard/soft, outside / inside, these examples are often seen as opposites, but they are interconnected, opposing forces interwoven through time, space, and experience. Objects that are seemingly different become melded together. The lines between opposition become blurred through personal experience, colliding within each piece, making for a complex interaction for the viewer. The domestic space is interpreted through personal interaction with the environment, objects, people, and actions. The psychological space is then materialized through manipulation and process. Processes of transformation such as tying, pouring, burning, melting, and sewing become repeated until the process becomes obsessive, labor intensive, meditative, and ritualistic. The artist’s relationship with her past and present domestic space is explored through a process-based and material-obsessed approach. Transformed daily objects are pushed into the uncanny, creating a visible affect.
Susy Bielak and Fred Schmalz, Mosquito/Xeno, video still (2023), HD video, Courtesy of the artists.
SUSY BIELAK and FRED SCHMALZ
October 7, 2023 – January 14, 2024
Saturday, October 7, 7:30PM, 8:00PM, 8:30PM
Students and Music Director Ammy Beltran of Valley High School
Welcome centers the limits of welcome, including the social structures that determine who is welcome and under what circumstances it may be rescinded, curtailed, or abandoned. Welcome responds to contemporary and historical acts of social and environmental control in Orange County—including plant hybridization, civic regulation, labor, immigration, the uses of public space, and property division. Through video, painting, sculpture, text, and sound, the works highlight how unwelcome coexists with joy and inclusion in Southern California.
Welcome draws upon four years of site visits, archival research, conversation and collaboration with activists, educators, and urban planners into Orange County’s development and contemporary culture. This experience revealed a palimpsest of colonialism, migration, militarization, white nationalism, resistance, and resilience.
The exhibition’s largest installation, Hybrid, is inspired by the region’s history of crop science and attempts to control nature. The image of an orange blossom being hybridized—embedded into an AstroTurf hillside—evokes the pervasive idealization of nature in Orange County, even as the area has become increasingly developed and suburbanized.
Two video works examine the complexities of public spaces in the region. In Mosquito/Xeno, tubist Abraham Hernandez stands alone in Orange County’s civic center plaza playing his composition, Xeno, as an act of joy and defiance that beckons neighbors to join him. Fruit Drop recreates—in McFadden Institute of Technology’s outdoor “Theatron”—the drought-condition phenomenon where citrus plants shed their fruit.
Three paintings in illuminated frames reveal layers of the region’s histories. Restricted Area references the intersection of migration and militarization in the region, with a recently arrived Vietnamese refugee standing behind a sign (printed in two colonial languages, but not his own) at a military base. Field highlights the region’s economic foundations in agriculture—an era when migration that was frequently met with resistance, including in the internment of Japanese-American farmers during World War II. Fumigation reveals the extent of ranch owners’ often-toxic interventions into the environment to make food production profitable. These works, glowing in their windows—designed to evoke television sets and the Santa Ana train station’s windows—are installed behind a suburban privacy fence.
In the sound installations Never Neverand Am I an American, Valley High School choir students reimagine a chant from a 1970s fair housing protest and a question printed on a 1920s KKK recruitment flier. These works respectively reference the struggle for equality and the history of the building where Grand Central Art Center currently resides.
The infographic poem Three Conditional Welcomes intervenes upon the initial planning documents for the University of California, Irvine. The campus, which preceded the city, was composed of isolated clusters. The buildings’ entrance doors face away from the circular meadow at the campus’ core. The school’s first employee, responsible for the campus’ construction, was a defense contractor. The text of Three Conditional Welcomes references Orange County histories of restrictive housing covenants, segregation, refugee encampments, infrastructural deterrents to communities, and the ways urban development can distance people from their landscapes.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
The ongoing collaborative art practice of Susy Bielak and Fred Schmalz mines social histories, texts and archives—using poetry, ethnography, and multimedia production to create writing, installations, performances, and public works. Their work synthesizes the poetic, social, and political terrain of urban locales into installations and actions that reflect the gravity and strangeness of contemporary cities. The duo’s recent work has been staged at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and in Eighth Blackbird’s Chicago Artists Workshop series.
Susy Bielak is an artist, writer, curator, and educator. Her work responds to issues including migration, displacement, and disaster. Her projects have ranged from town hall meetings to drawings made with her breath. Collaborators have included rodeo cowboys, bus drivers, a veteran barbershop quartet, choreographers, and engineers. Her work has been collected and exhibited widely, including by the International Print Center, Museo Tamayo, San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art, and Walker Art Center. She received an MFA from the University of California San Diego.
Fred Schmalz is an artist, writer, and editor. He is the author of Action in the Orchards (Nightboat Books 2019), which explores intimacy and loss via encounters with contemporary art. His current writing examines the sanctioning of violence in American culture and how displays of militarism and force are countered by acts of care. His recent writing has appeared in Puerto del Sol, Tyger Quarterly, The Canary, Poetry, Typo, guesthouse, and Oversound. He received an MFA in prose and poetry from Northwestern University.
Carolina Caycedo, Fuel to Fire, video still (2023), HD video, 7 minutes 34 seconds. Courtesy of the artist, Commonwealth and Council (Los Angeles/Mexico City) and Instituto de Visión (Bogotá/NYC)
FUEL TO FIRE
October 7, 2023 – January 14, 2024
Fuel to Fire is a single channel video that brings the viewer into a pagamento or payback of gold to a body of water. This ritual was performed for the wellbeing and conservation of the Paramo de Santurbán, a moorland ecosystem within the high mountains of Northwest Colombia, which holds large -sought after- deposits of gold. The pagamento is an indigenous ecological and economic fundamental protocol, that maintains the flow and balance of life cycles on earth. When accumulation happens, sickness arrives, and so it’s necessary to give back by letting go of something that is dear, that implies labor, or that is highly symbolic.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Carolina Caycedo (London, 1978) is a Colombian multidisciplinary artist living in Los Angeles. Her immense geographic photographs, lively artist’s books, hanging sculptures, performances, films, and installations are not merely art objects but gateways into larger discussions about how we treat each other and the world around us. Through her studio practice and fieldwork with communities impacted by large-scale infrastructure and other extraction projects, she invites viewers to consider the unsustainable pace of growth under capitalism and how we might embrace resistance and solidarity. Process and participation are central to Caycedo’s practice, she contributes to the reconstruction of environmental and historical memory as a fundamental space for climate and social justice. Informed by Indigenous and feminist epistemologies, she confronts the role of the colonial gaze in the privatization and dispossession of land and water.
Caycedo is a 2023 United States Artists fellow and 2023–24 Getty Research Institute Artist in Residence.
(L&T) Anika Phillips, ceramic (2023), (R) Jordan Young, porcelain (2023), Courtesy of the artists.
CERAMICS AND GLASS
SHOW AND SALE
October 7, 2023 – February 18, 2024
A long-standing tradition at Grand Central Art Center, the annual ceramics and glass show and sale provides an opportunity to see and purchase quality works by regional artists.
Artists included in this year’s show include Emily Brasch, Paulina Do, Diana Donaldson, Jose Flores Nava, Philip Kupferschmidt, Destiny Lee, Ivy Leighton, Cindy Leung, Brian Nguyen, Anika Phillips, Alexa Velasquez and Jordan Young.
SE BUSCA focuses on the intersection of memory and transport. Memory as in generational trauma, indigeneity, Purépecha ancestry, and how these memories from blood and dirt are transported through migration. It views migration, such as the migration of the artists mother from Michoacan to Santa Ana, the Santa Ana River’s path into the Pacific Ocean and oceanic currents combining with the mouths of rivers in Michoacan, and concrete freeways used for redlining all as synonymous. In the way that Robert Rauschenberg’s Erased de Kooning Drawing (1953) questioned whether the paper, the pencil markings, the eraser tracings, or the memory are the artwork, these works rebel against the definition of art object and artwork while critiquing the hierarchical methods of labor and gender norms.
The works seem to be in motion although tightly bound to the structures that keep them stagnant. The use of line offers cohesion and criticality while the various light sources reminisce of liquor stores, construction sites, and neighborhood walks at dusk. The works search for a sort of understanding while each reproduction paradoxically distances the artist. Each work aims to instill agency and resist the violent silencing of marginalized communities that are formed by the streets literally and metaphorically.
Marie-Luce Nadal’s art confronts the intertwining scales of life. Building upon the legacy of her ancestors, she embarks on a relentless paradoxal pursuit to tame or to be part of the sky itself. The artist inherited a rich knowledge of winegrowers and cloud seeders. In the delicate balance between control and surrender, between earth and sky, lies a tipping point that challenges our perceptions. Her works pay homage to the alchemy of uncertainty, revealing a profound interconnectedness between terrestrial and divine forces. The body momentarily becomes cloud, and the cloud momentarily becomes body, merging the vertical ascent and the intoxicated depths into a singular point of convergence.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Marie-Luce Nadal, born in Perpignan (French Catalunya), is an artist and researcher who explores the intersection of art and science. She creates performative machine-works that have the particularity of mixing plastic visual singularities, scientific research, and poetry. Her work delves into the ethereal realm of the atmosphere, seeking to capture its elusive nature and unravel the mysteries it holds.
In her exploration of the atmosphere, she raises fundamental questions about our relationship with nature. Her artistic reverie unravels the artificial landscapes that surround us, inviting us to contemplate the intangible substances that shape our environment. By extracting essences from storms, domesticating flies, and conjuring clouds, her work revolves around the human obsession will of control and dominance over the natural world.
The artist has exhibited her work at the following museums and foundations: Palais de Tokyo (France), Musée des Abattoirs de Toulouse (France), ZKM (Germany), New Tretyakof Gallery (Moscow), La Gaité Lyrique (France), MUST (Norway), MGK (Germany), Fondation Fiminco (France), Fondation LAccolade (France/USA), Gare Saint Sauveur Lille 3000 (France), Moscow Biennale, Lyon Biennale.
Alicia Rojas: With Honey in the Mouth – Con Miel en la Boca
May 6 – September 10, 2023
Opening Reception: Saturday, May 6 from 7-10pm
With Honey in the Mouth – Con Miel en la Boca examines the synchronicities between honeybees and human-forced migration journeys.
Honeybees are required to sustain our global ecosystem. The synchronicities between bees, their dancing patterns, and pollination exemplify purpose through collective work. Migratory pollination has become essential to agriculture in many regions as pesticides have ravaged native pollinators. Like many parallel migration stories, bees and humans continue to expand their territories for the survival of their colonies. The labor of these groups is often exploited, forced to work the land to support food production for the betterment of others, all while remaining responsible for nurturing next generations and contributing to their communities.
The initial concept for the works in the gallery comes from the artist’s personal experience of growing up around bees as a child in her elementary school in her native country of Colombia, where she learned to follow the bees’ example of service to humanity as they provide a model for human potential – the ideals to transcend and give meaning beyond one’s own existence. The stories of women in Alicia’s family and their migration journey from Colombia have inspired the artist, expressed through the collaborative process and values demonstrated throughout this exhibition.
Generated over a two-year artist-in-residence with GCAC, the resulting works include beeswax sculptures formed in collaboration with the eight active bee colonies placed in the artist’s Santa Ana backyard; photography and video works created with the assistance of SteadyJenny in Santa Ana and Colombia; a sculptural installation created with original hive boxes; and a sound work composed through Alicia’s first collaboration with her son Gabriel Lopez Rojas.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Alicia Rojas is a Colombian-born artist living in Orange County, CA. She participates in movements for immigrant rights, anti-gentrification, social and economic equity, and ecology. Alicia’s artistic practice started as an exploration of self-expression and healing, which led her to paint almost 100 self-portraits in one year. Her practice has a collaborative and storytelling process in which paintings, drawings, photographs, sculptures, and murals are not the final result but rather part of her art-making pedagogy. Her work contributes to the historical memory of the collective and facilitates placemaking within communities of color.
The artist is a California Arts Council, Established Artists Fellow grantee. She has received funding from the City of Santa Ana Arts and Culture Department, Community Engagement, and local non-profits. She is the Director and Co-founder of the Santa Ana Community Artist(a) Coalition, an organization founded to connect local artists to their communities collaboratively to create art that transforms public spaces, generates civic engagement, and promotes personal and social change. Rojas was a founding member of the City of Santa Ana arts steering committee and a participant in the Occupy movement.
Grand Central Art Center and the artist wish to thank Alejandro Soto with the Bee Army, SteadyJenny (Film/media), Frank Molnar, Joshua-Michéle Ross, Court Price, and Don Oscar Castelblanco Beekeeper in San Agustin, Colombia, for their support in helping us to realize the exhibition. The artist celebrates the first collaboration with her son Gabriel Lopez Rojas, a musician who assisted with the sound arrangement for this exhibition.
Alicia Rojas’ Grand Central Art Center Artist-in-Residence is supported, in part, by a grant to our institution provided by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.