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Review: 'Los Inbetweens: Artists Sin Barrios' at Avenue 50 Studio

April 24, 2009 | 11:00 am

Smercado self portrait “Los Inbetweens: Artists Sin Barrios” at Avenue 50 Studio tackles a broad and familiar theme — too broad, perhaps, to be adequately addressed at this scale, but familiar enough, or at least relevant enough, to merit the attempt at multiple levels. It is an earnest if not revelatory group show with more than its share of strong works, exploring various forms of cultural dualism — Mexican and American, male and female, gay and straight — through the avenue of self-portraiture. 

One highlight is Albert Reyes’ “Passports,” a clustered ensemble of prints and drawings made on the inside of old hardback book covers. Self-portraits mingle with images of other individuals, dogs, cats, celebrities and popular icons — in a wide variety of styles — to suggest a cross-section of the formation of identity.

The other standout is Stephanie Mercado’s untitled portrait of a woman in a tall baroque wig, striped tights, red shoes and a sleeve of tattoos down her arm, sitting on a chair that’s planted on a map of the world. 

Other memorable works include a small self-portrait — ballpoint pen on a cloth handkerchief — by Shizu Saldamando; a pair of self-portraits by Angel Villanueva in the guise of conquistador Hernán Cortéz and his mistress La Malinche, who produced one of Mexico’s first mestizos; a print by Rigo Maldonado, “Hard to Swallow,” depicting a man with a bird stuffed in his mouth; and a lovely graphite portrait by Marvin Jordana.

-- Holly Myers

Avenue 50 Studio, 131 N. Ave. 50, L.A., (323) 258-1435, through May 3. Closed Mondays and Fridays.

Above: Stephanie Mercado's untitled portrait. Credit: Avenue 50 Studio

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