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VENTURA COUNTY WEEKEND : ART : SIGHTS : Carnegie Show Puts Spotlight on Latino Painters

Over the years, the Carnegie Art Museum has done a sterling job of presenting art from the Latino community, not as a fringe aesthetic but as a strong, flowing current within the framework of contemporary art, and one with special resonance in this region. The trend continues with “Contemporary Latino Painters,” culled from the impressive collection of the Ventura County-based Sanchez family.

No single point of view dominates this group of paintings. Elas Flores’ “Bearer of Life” puts forth an expressionistic swirl of energy, in contrast to the deceptively straightforward portrait of Salomon Huerta’s “Las Tres Novelas de Mi Vida.” Domestic surrealism buzzes in Patssi Valdez’ “Kitchen in Chaos,” with everyday objects in giddy disarray.

Paradoxes of love and death, sin and redemption crop up in Jesus Rangel’s “Mi Corazon” and Leo Limon’s “Los Lovers.” Diane Gamboa’s “Point Blank” finds a gun-wielding woman flanked by devilish overseer.

A corner of the gallery is given over to the work of noted painter Frank Romero. Romero’s style, at once vivid and elemental, is nicely surveyed here, from the socio-drama of “The Closing of Whittier Blvd.” to an ode to the iconic, non-franchise fast food drive-in, “Dolores,” to the auto-culture paean of “Splendor in the Chevy.”

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This bold exhibition tells the story of a collection, as it covers a gamut of artistic instincts within a given cultural backdrop.

* “Contemporary Latin Painters,” through Sunday at the Carnegie Art Museum, 424 South C St. in Oxnard; 385-8179.


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