News

Focus on artist Adrian Barrientes

From VSA and writer Nathan Segura: a close look at VSA and artist Adrian Barrientes' "SLEEM"

In SLEEM, a video installation tainted of pink, blue, white, and yellow, created by artist Adrian Barrientes, draws us to the realms of food and flesh. His sickening and sometimes vicious mish-mash of images are framed by the rigid black edges of the TV screen. With imagination and reflection, Barrientes points out how, in the digital age, we use neutral and cold technological devices to record our most intimate bodily experiences. Through his generous sense of the decorative, Adrian Barrientes disorients us with a symphony of colors, objects, and forms. This digital assemblage is an all over composition that rejects any sense of hierarchical organization –no part dominates another. Barrientes evenly distributes attention throughout the canvas, a practice associated with American painter Jackson Pollock. Unlike the abstract expressionists, however, Barrientes avoids focusing on the unconscious and brings to the image objects that belong to the outside and the mundane. The vivid mélange of objects fades into abstraction as the viewer backs away from the print. A close look at the piece, however, triggers conflicting feelings. Indeed, the colorful assortments of objects is simultaneously engaging and unsettling. The textures and colors of the composition are soft and fanciful; yet, the unpredictable presence of an eye vein, a butthole, and a dildo bring a disturbing edge to the work. Whether the piece pleases or displease is irrelevant –what is admirable is the way in which Barrientes combines, through an unfocused openness, objects and body parts, as well as the commercial world and the private intimate life. Through SLEEM, Barrientes manages to tame the overwhelming flow of images that pervades all domains of life, by outputting it back to us via the palpable new slime he has created.

Focus on artist Nick Hunt

From VSA and writer Nathan Segura: a close look at VSA and artist Nick Hunt's “Study of 9mm”

In “9mm” artist Nick Hunt presents us with six squares of aluminum, each of a different color and shot with a nine millimeter pistol. Although his installation calls to mind discussions about the Second Amendment and the place of guns within American, Hunt moves the dialogue away from national politics as he artfully comments on the idea of taking blows as an artist himself. He treats his colorful squares as the artistic self, full of imagination and prospects, that life’s challenges hit and damage. The various sizes of bullet holes seen throughout the aluminum panels stand for the different punches an artist takes in. Hunts recalls that he shot the green square “in the back” after it fell to the ground. It is important to point out, however, that each piece is painted with six layers of different paint. Thus, the impact of the bullet reveals different colors. As a result, rather than seemingly destroying the pieces, the bullets give character to their surface by, literally, adding depth and texture to it. The idea of adding to art by taking away from it was best exemplified by American painter Robert Rauschenberg who in 1953 intentionally erased a painting executed by Abstract Expressionist Williem DeKooning. Through his own sensibility, Hunt engages with Rauschenberg’s conviction that subtracting and erasing can, ironically, bring in substance and value.

A statement from the curators

The work featured in VSAs: A Group Exhibition is not united by a central theme, however what the participating artists have in common is an enduring bond based on their enthusiasm for the Los Angeles arts community. All of the artists in the exhibition work as Visitor Services Associates (VSAs) at The Broad*, a new museum on Grand Avenue in Downtown Los Angeles specializing in Post-War and Contemporary Art.

Brought together by a desire to work in a leading cultural space in LA, in the months after the museum opened in September 2015, many VSAs began to recognize the immense talent amongst their fellow coworkers and interest grew in sharing their artistic practices with one another. What followed was an invitation by VSAs Sacha Baumann and Sarah Gonsalves to create a collaborative exhibition that showcases the art created by their colleagues. From the works hanging in the gallery, to the graphic design featured on press materials, to the curatorial plan, VSAs: A Group Exhibition was conceived and implemented entirely by Visitor Services Associates at The Broad.

The multiplicity in medium and subject matter on display echoes the wide-ranging interests of these museum staff members. A commitment to sharing knowledge of The Broad collection with visitors, and a love for Contemporary Art as a whole unites the artists, but their personal and creative backgrounds differ vastly. Some participants have been producing works for decades, while others are just beginning their professional practices. Many of the artists have BFAs and MFAs, others have years of experience passionately creating art. Some are educators, writers, and art historians. Thus the centrality found in VSAs: A Group Exhibition is the diversity through which each of the artists on display showcase varied concepts in assorted media including painting, sculpture, photography, sound installation, and video.

Because there is no strict theoretical framework, curatorial choices were based on formal elements in each of the works, as well as the visual conversations that naturally emerged between pieces in the exhibition. The bonds and respect that formed between the VSAs is sustaining and unusual, and becomes the focus and inspiration for the exhibition.

VSAs: A Group Exhibition is held in loving memory of William Walker. 

 

VSAs: A Group Exhibition Curators:

Antoine Girard
Jenna Bao
Lucas Lacámara
Meg FitzRoy
Rachel Keller, writer
Raven Kalicki
Sarah Davis, lead
Trinity Singer

 

*VSAs: A Group Exhibition is not sponsored or endorsed by The Broad.

It takes a VSA village

The exhibition will be three months in the making, beginning with an open call to all 100+ VSAs by coordinators Sacha Baumann and Sarah Gonsalves in November 2015. Half of the VSAs enthusiastically answered, offering their various skills to the many roles and tasks involved in producing an exhibition including artists, preparators, writers, graphic designer, and two djs.

All participating artists were invited to submit up to 5 works for the exhibition, uploading the details and images on a special page of our website. Helmed by VSA Sarah Davis, the curatorial team got to work on making their selections in a series of meetings at Keystone Art Space. On Monday, January 4 the final decisions were made, with a total of 36 artists participating in the show.

Next step: the artists will be dropping off their selected work. The curators will stage the show in Keystone Gallery and then the Prep team will get to work hanging, installing, and lighting the show. It's truly been a group effort.

 

Curators Tristan Brighty, Sarah Davis, Jenna Bao, Trinity Singer, and Raven Kalicki Facetiming on the phone.

Curators Tristan Brighty, Sarah Davis, Jenna Bao, Trinity Singer, and Raven Kalicki Facetiming on the phone.

Curators Sarah Davis, Trinity Singer, Antoine Girard, Lucas Lacamara, and Rachel Keller.

Curators Sarah Davis, Trinity Singer, Antoine Girard, Lucas Lacamara, and Rachel Keller.

Curator and artist Lucas Lacamara and artist Rachel Wardenburg in coordinator and artist Sacha Baumann's Keystone studio discussing the show details. And playing with artist Avedon Arcade's pup.

Curator and artist Lucas Lacamara and artist Rachel Wardenburg in coordinator and artist Sacha Baumann's Keystone studio discussing the show details. And playing with artist Avedon Arcade's pup.

Participating artist Marni Selmanson and exhibition coordinator and artist Sarah Gonsalves reviewing show details.

Participating artist Marni Selmanson and exhibition coordinator and artist Sarah Gonsalves reviewing show details.

VSA in the news

The Corsair: Santa Moncia Community College's online news site features Nathan Segura, excerpted below.

Nathan Segura, Visitor Services Associate, at The Broad museum in downtown Los Angeles on October 15, 2015. Prior to working at The Broad, Segura spent 2 years studying art at Santa Monica College. 

Nathan Segura, Visitor Services Associate, at The Broad museum in downtown Los Angeles on October 15, 2015. Prior to working at The Broad, Segura spent 2 years studying art at Santa Monica College. 

Chase Maser, Staff Writer
November 2, 2015

Downtown Los Angeles is a well-known hotbed for visitors from all around the world, and its vivacious city-life continues to attract more and more people every day. From the Staples Center off of Figueroa to the Walt Disney Concert Hall on South Grand Avenue, the experiences grow more and more memorable, and with the newly erected Broad Museum in the heart of the action, the visitor is left with an even greater capacity of worldliness.

SMC Alumni, Nathan Segura, stands at the forefront of this artistic interaction. Segura works directly with Broad museum goers as a Visitor Service Associate (VSA). His duties are unique to the individual experience of the museum because his position acts as the direct connection between the artwork and the viewer. “We are the public face of the Broad, in a way,” says Segura. “We get to know visitors on a personal level, and we exchange ideas with a very diverse group of people.”

VSA’s help visitors navigate their way through the museum exhibits by offering themselves as educational assistants. Every VSA is accommodating and highly trained, completing 80 hours of customer service and art history training before working at the Broad.

Nathan Segura was born in Leon, France. It’s a small town known mainly for its creative and delicious food, but French culture also regards art as one of the highest sophistications of life. Segura acquired his immense appreciation for artwork in Greece after his mother took him on a vacation to the main historical sites of the city when he was a boy. He became fond of the architectural masterpieces there, and he attributes much of his appreciation for the Broad Museum to this past vacation.

SMC served as a huge contributor to Segura’s artistic sensibilities as well. After moving to the United States, he attended Alexander Hamilton High School in Los Angeles and participated in their Magnet Humanities program. Upon graduating, he enrolled at SMC and took part in the college’s Scholar Program. He found that most of his interest was in art history, so he made that his major.

He studied artwork from the Egyptian pyramids all the way to the Baroque period under the tutelage of Professor Mario Semere. Professor Wendi Brown, who teaches African Art History, further encouraged Segura’s passion for art. “All my professors at SMC encouraged me to work in the art world,” he said. Once Segura transferred to Cal State Long Beach, he worked part-time in different galleries around the city before applying for a position at the new Broad Museum.

Segura admits that he feels like he doesn’t “have the patience or the imagination required to be a serious artist.” He only wants to admire their work and appreciate the world they live in. But whether Segura realizes it or not, his knowledge and skill as a VSA is just as enlightening and universal as anything hanging on the wall.