The disturbances that followed the verdicts in the first Rodney G. King beating trial gave birth to art throughout Los Angeles. Theater, dance, performance art, murals, and exhibits have all been used as cathartic social therapy to help artists and the city make sense of the violence that erupted less than a year and a half ago.
“Reshaping Los Angeles: The Search for Inclusion/In Praise of Diversity,” a joint exhibit opening Sunday at Angels Gate Cultural Center and Los Angeles Harbor College Art Gallery, tries to explore remaining social tensions and offers a sometimes optimistic look at the future.
“There were so many shows (that emerged after the riots), I wanted to wait for artists to reflect on what it means in the long term,” said Will Hipps, the executive director of Angels Gate who curated the show with Stella Vognar, director of the Art Gallery at L.A. Harbor College. “I’m glad I waited.”
Hipps and Vognar called for entries throughout Southern California and have gathered more than 50 works by 42 artists, including sculptures, installations, drawings, paintings and assemblages. “The show is very, very healing in its effect,” Hipps said. “It’s a very positive response even though it was a very negative event.
“We were looking to go forward from the event,” Vognar said. “We went looking for works that weren’t graphic depictions of the beating but were about where can we go from here to understand each other.”
Jill D’Agnenica’s “Angels,” seen in the galleries and on the grounds of the two exhibition sites, is a sampling of the 4,687 six-inch fluorescent magenta-orange plaster angels she has placed throughout the city since April.
“She’s asking people to look for the angels,” Vognar said. Several angels and photographs documenting their presence in the urban landscape will be on display at both sites.
Karl Eysenbach’s “Homage to the 20th Century” can be seen as a “historical exhibit explaining the dynamics of the 20th Century from the perspective of someone living 200 years from now,” according to the artist.
Eysenbach’s installation at Angels Gate incorporates a real fisherman’s shanty that has been transported from Mexico. Inside are three-dimensional Mondrian-inspired acrylic blocks that hold transparencies of major world events, including the Los Angeles riots.
The show includes statements by 20 of the artists that help explain the motivation and symbolism behind their work. The opening reception for “Reshaping L.A.” will be from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday in the Angels Gate Cultural Center Gate Gallery.
Hipps and Vognar will host a curators’ lecture and slide show on the exhibit at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 22 in the Music Recital Hall at L.A. Harbor College. A reception for the artists will follow at 7 p.m. in the college Art Gallery.
The Angels Gate Cultural Center’s Gate Gallery is at 3601 S. Gaffey St. Building A, in San Pedro. Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. Admission is free. For information call (310) 519-8598.
The Los Angeles Harbor College Art Gallery is in the Fine Arts Building, 1111 Figueroa Place, Wilmington. Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Thursday or by appointment. Admission is free. For information call (310) 522-8474.