Issue 35 February 2024

Issue 34 November 2023

Issue 33 August 2023

Issue 32 June 2023

Issue 31 February 2023

Issue 30 November 2022

Issue 29 August 2022

Issue 28 May 2022

Issue 27 February 2022

Issue 26 November 2021

Issue 25 August 2021

Issue 24 May 2021

Issue 23 February 2021

Issue 22 November 2020

Issue 21 August 2020

Issue 20 May 2020

Issue 19 February 2020

Letter from the Editor –Lindsay Preston Zappas
Parasites in Love –Travis Diehl
To Crush Absolute On Patrick Staff and
Destroying the Institution
–Jonathan Griffin
Victoria Fu:
Camera Obscured
–Cat Kron
Resurgence of Resistance How Pattern & Decoration's Popularity
Can Help Reshape the Canon
–Catherine Wagley
Trace, Place, Politics Julie Mehretu's Coded Abstractions
–Jessica Simmons
Exquisite L.A.: Featuring: Friedrich Kunath,
Tristan Unrau, and Nevine Mahmoud
–Claressinka Anderson & Joe Pugliese
Reviews April Street
at Vielmetter Los Angeles
–Aaron Horst

Chiraag Bhakta
at Human Resources
–Julie Weitz

Don’t Think: Tom, Joe
and Rick Potts

–Matt Stromberg

Sarah McMenimen
at Garden
–Michael Wright

The Medea Insurrection
at the Wende Museum
–Jennifer Remenchik

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Mike Kelley
at Hauser & Wirth
–Angella d’Avignon
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Issue 18 November 2019

Letter from the Editor –Lindsay Preston Zappas
The Briar and the Tar Nayland Blake at the ICA LA
and Matthew Marks Gallery
–Travis Diehl
Putting Aesthetics
to Hope
Tracking Photography’s Role
in Feminist Communities
– Catherine Wagley
Instagram STARtists
and Bad Painting
– Anna Elise Johnson
Interview with Jamillah James – Lindsay Preston Zappas
Working Artists Featuring Catherine Fairbanks,
Paul Pescador, and Rachel Mason
Text: Lindsay Preston Zappas
Photos: Jeff McLane
Reviews Children of the Sun
– Jessica Simmons

Derek Paul Jack Boyle
–Aaron Horst

Karl Holmqvist
at House of Gaga, Los Angeles
–Lee Purvey

Katja Seib
at Château Shatto
–Ashton Cooper

Jeanette Mundt
at Overduin & Co.
–Matt Stromberg
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Issue 17 August 2019

Letter From the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Green Chip David Hammons
at Hauser & Wirth
–Travis Diehl
Whatever Gets You
Through the Night
The Artists of Dilexi
and Wartime Trauma
–Jonathan Griffin
Generous Collectors How the Grinsteins
Supported Artists
–Catherine Wagley
Interview with
Donna Huanca
–Lindsy Preston Zappas
Working Artist Featuring Ragen Moss, Justen LeRoy,
and Bari Ziperstein
Text: Lindsay Preston Zappas
Photos: Jeff McLane
Reviews Sarah Lucas
at the Hammer Museum
–Yxta Maya Murray

George Herms and Terence Koh
at Morán Morán
–Matt Stromberg

Hannah Hur
at Bel Ami
–Michael Wright

Sebastian Hernandez
–Julie Weitz

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Alex Israel
at Greene Naftali
–Rosa Tyhurst

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Issue 16 May 2019

Trulee Hall's Untamed Magic Catherine Wagley
Ingredients for a Braver Art Scene Ceci Moss
I Shit on Your Graves Travis Diehl
Interview with Ruby Neri Jonathan Griffin
Carolee Schneemann and the Art of Saying Yes! Chelsea Beck
Exquisite L.A. Claressinka Anderson
Joe Pugliese
Reviews Ry Rocklen
at Honor Fraser
–Cat Kron

Rob Thom
at M+B
–Lindsay Preston Zappas

Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age
of Black Power, 1963-1983
at The Broad
–Matt Stromberg

Anna Sew Hoy & Diedrick Brackens
at Various Small Fires
–Aaron Horst

Julia Haft-Candell & Suzan Frecon
at Parrasch Heijnen
–Jessica Simmons

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Shahryar Nashat
at Swiss Institute
–Christie Hayden
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Issue 15 February 2019

Letter From the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Letter to the Editor
Men on Women
Geena Brown
Eyes Without a Voice
Julian Rosefeldt's Manifesto
Christina Catherine Martinez
Seven Minute Dream Machine
Jordan Wolfson's (Female figure)
Travis Diehl
Laughing in Private
Vanessa Place's Rape Jokes
Catherine Wagley
Interview with
Rosha Yaghmai
Laura Brown
Exquisite L.A.
Featuring: Patrick Martinez,
Ramiro Gomez, and John Valadez
Claressinka Anderson
Joe Pugliese
Reviews Outliers and American
Vanguard Art at LACMA
–Jonathan Griffin

Sperm Cult
–Matt Stromberg

Kahlil Joseph
–Jessica Simmons

Ingrid Luche
at Ghebaly Gallery
–Lindsay Preston Zappas

Matt Paweski
at Park View / Paul Soto
–John Zane Zappas

Trenton Doyle Hancock
at Shulamit Nazarian
–Colony Little

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Catherine Opie
at Lehmann Maupin
–Angella d'Avignon
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Issue 14 November 2018

Letter From the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Celeste Dupuy-Spencer and Figurative Religion Catherine Wagley
Lynch in Traffic Travis Diehl
The Remixed Symbology of Nina Chanel Abney Lindsay Preston Zappas
Interview with Kulapat Yantrasast Christie Hayden
Exquisite L.A.
Featuring: Sandra de la Loza, Gloria Galvez, and Steve Wong
Claressinka Anderson
Photos: Joe Pugliese
Reviews Raúl de Nieves
at Freedman Fitzpatrick
-Aaron Horst

Gertrud Parker
at Parker Gallery
-Ashton Cooper

Robert Yarber
at Nicodim Gallery
-Jonathan Griffin

Nikita Gale
at Commonwealth & Council
-Simone Krug

Lari Pittman
at Regen Projects
-Matt Stromberg

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Eckhaus Latta
at the Whitney Museum
of American Art
-Angella d'Avignon
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Issue 13 August 2018

Letter From the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Letter to the Editor Julie Weitz with Angella d'Avignon
Don't Make
Everything Boring
Catherine Wagley
The Collaborative Art
World of Norm Laich
Matt Stromberg
Oddly Satisfying Art Travis Diehl
Made in L.A. 2018 Reviews Claire de Dobay Rifelj
Jennifer Remenchik
Aaron Horst
Exquisite L.A.
Featuring: Anna Sew Hoy, Guadalupe Rosales, and Shizu Saldamando
Claressinka Anderson
Photos: Joe Pugliese
Reviews It's Snowing in LA
at AA|LA
–Matthew Lax

Fiona Conner
at the MAK Center
–Thomas Duncan

Show 2
at The Gallery @ Michael's
–Simone Krug

Deborah Roberts
at Luis De Jesus Los Angeles
–Ikechukwu Casmir Onyewuenyi

Mimi Lauter
at Blum & Poe
–Jessica Simmons

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Math Bass
at Mary Boone
–Ashton Cooper

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Condo New York
–Laura Brown
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Issue 12 May 2018

Poetic Energies and
Radical Celebrations:
Senga Nengudi and Maren Hassinger
Simone Krug
Interior States of the Art Travis Diehl
Perennial Bloom:
Florals in Feminism
and Across L.A.
Angella d'Avignon
The Mess We're In Catherine Wagley
Interview with Christina Quarles Ashton Cooper
Object Project
Featuring Suné Woods, Michelle Dizon,
and Yong Soon Min
Lindsay Preston Zappas
Photos: Jeff McLane
Reviews Meleko Mokgosi
at The Fowler Museum at UCLA
-Jessica Simmons

Chris Kraus
at Chateau Shatto
- Aaron Horst

Ben Sanders
at Ochi Projects
- Matt Stromberg

iris yirei hsu
at the Women's Center
for Creative Work
- Hana Cohn

Harald Szeemann
at the Getty Research Institute
- Olivian Cha

Ali Prosch
at Bed and Breakfast
- Jennifer Remenchik

Reena Spaulings
at Matthew Marks
- Thomas Duncan
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Issue 11 February 2018

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Museum as Selfie Station Matt Stromberg
Accessible as Humanly as Possible Catherine Wagley
On Laura Owens on Laura Owens Travis Diehl
Interview with Puppies Puppies Jonathan Griffin
Object Project Lindsay Preston Zappas, Jeff McLane
Reviews Dulce Dientes
at Rainbow in Spanish
- Aaron Horst

Adrián Villas Rojas
at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA
- Lindsay Preston Zappas

Nevine Mahmoud
at M+B
- Angella D'Avignon

Radical Women: Latin American Art, 1960- 1985
at the Hammer Museum
- Thomas Duncan

Hannah Greely and William T. Wiley
at Parker Gallery
- Keith J. Varadi

David Hockney
at The Metropolitan Museum of Art (L.A. in N.Y.)
- Ashton Cooper

Edgar Arceneaux
at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (L.A. in S.F.)
- Hana Cohn
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Issue 10 November 2017

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Barely Living with Art:
The Labor of Domestic
Spaces in Los Angeles
Eli Diner
She Wanted Adventure:
Dwan, Butler, Mizuno, Copley
Catherine Wagley
The Languages of
All-Women Exhibitions
Lindsay Preston Zappas
L.A. Povera Travis Diehl
On Eclipses:
When Language
and Photography Fail
Jessica Simmons
Interview with
Hamza Walker
Julie Wietz
Object Project
Featuring: Rosha Yaghmai,
Dianna Molzan, and Patrick Jackson
Lindsay Preston Zappas
Photos by Jeff McLane
Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA
Regen Projects
Ibid Gallery
One National Gay & Lesbian Archives and MOCA PDC
The Mistake Room
Luis De Jesus Gallery
the University Art Gallery at CSULB
the Autry Museum
Reviews Cheyenne Julien
at Smart Objects

Paul Mpagi Sepuya
at team bungalow

Ravi Jackson
at Richard Telles

Tactility of Line
at Elevator Mondays

Trigger: Gender as a Tool as a Weapon
at the New Museum
(L.A. in N.Y.)
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Issue 9 August 2017

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Women on the Plinth Catherine Wagley
Us & Them, Now & Then:
Reconstituting Group Material
Travis Diehl
The Offerings of EJ Hill
Ikechukwu Casmir Onyewuenyi
Interview with Jenni Sorkin Carmen Winant
Object Project
Featuring: Rebecca Morris,
Linda Stark, Alex Olson
Lindsay Preston Zappas
Photos by Jeff McClane
Reviews Mark Bradford
at the Venice Biennale

Broken Language
at Shulamit Nazarian

Artists of Color
at the Underground Museum

Anthony Lepore & Michael Henry Hayden
at Del Vaz Projects


Analia Saban at
Sprueth Magers
Letter to the Editor Lady Parts, Lady Arts
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Issue 8 May 2017

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Kanye Westworld Travis Diehl
@richardhawkins01 Thomas Duncan
Support Structures:
Alice Könitz and LAMOA
Catherine Wagley
Interview with
Penny Slinger
Eliza Swann
Exquisite L.A.
taisha paggett
Ashley Hunt
Young Chung
Intro by Claressinka Anderson
Portraits by Joe Pugliese
Reviews Alessandro Pessoli
at Marc Foxx

Jennie Jieun Lee
at The Pit

Trisha Baga
at 356 Mission

Jimmie Durham
at The Hammer

Parallel City
at Ms. Barbers

Jason Rhodes
at Hauser & Wirth
Letter to the Editor
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Issue 7 February 2017

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Catherine Wagley
Put on a Happy Face:
On Dynasty Handbag
Travis Diehl
The Limits of Animality:
Simone Forti at ISCP
(L.A. in N.Y.)
Ikechukwu Casmir Onyewuenyi
More Wound Than Ruin:
Evaluating the
"Human Condition"
Jessica Simmons
Exquisite L.A.
Brenna Youngblood
Todd Gray
Rafa Esparza
Intro by Claressinka Anderson
Portraits by Joe Pugliese
Reviews Creature
at The Broad

Sam Pulitzer & Peter Wachtler
at House of Gaga // Reena Spaulings Fine Art

Karl Haendel
at Susanne Vielmetter

Wolfgang Tillmans
at Regen Projects

at Chateau Shatto

The Rat Bastard Protective Association
at the Landing
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Issue 6 November 2016

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Kenneth Tam
's Basement
Travis Diehl
The Female
Cool School
Catherine Wagley
The Rise
of the L.A.
Art Witch
Amanda Yates Garcia
Interview with
Mernet Larsen
Julie Weitz
Agnes Martin
Jessica Simmons
Exquisite L.A.
Analia Saban
Ry Rocklen
Sarah Cain
Intro by Claressinka Anderson
Portraits by Joe Pugliese
Made in L.A. 2016
at The Hammer Museum

Doug Aitken
at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA

at Tif Sigfrids

Jean-Pascal Flavian and Mika Tajima
at Kayne Griffin Corcoran

Mark A. Rodruigez
at Park View

The Weeping Line
Organized by Alter Space
at Four Six One Nine
(S.F. in L.A.)
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Issue 5 August 2016

Letter form the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
at The Underground Museum
Catherine Wagley
The Art of Birth Carmen Winant
Escape from Bunker Hill
John Knight
Travis Diehl
Ed Boreal Speaks Benjamin Lord
Art Advice (from Men) Sarah Weber
Routine Pleasures
at the MAK Center
Jonathan Griffin
Exquisite L.A.
Fay Ray
John Baldessari
Claire Kennedy
Intro by Claressinka Anderson
Portraits by Joe Pugliese
Reviews Revolution in the Making
at Hauser Wirth & Schimmel

Carl Cheng
at Cherry and Martin

Joan Snyder
at Parrasch Heijnen Gallery

Elanor Antin
at Diane Rosenstein

Performing the Grid
at Ben Maltz Gallery
at Otis College of Art & Design

Laura Owens
at The Wattis Institute
(L.A. in S.F.)
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Issue 4 May 2016

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Moon, laub, and Love Catherine Wagley
Walk Artisanal Jonathan Griffin
Marva Marrow's
Inside the L.A. Artist
Anthony Pearson
Mystery Science Thater:
Diana Thater
Aaron Horst
Informal Feminisms Federica Bueti and Jan Verwoert
Marva Marrow Photographs
Lita Albuquerque
Interiors and Interiority:
Njideka Akunyili Crosby
Char Jansen
Reviews L.A. Art Fairs

Material Art Fair, Mexico City

Rain Room

Evan Holloway
at David Kordansky Gallery

Histories of a Vanishing Present: A Prologue
at The Mistake Room

Carter Mull
at fused space
(L.A. in S.F.)

Awol Erizku
at FLAG Art Foundation
(L.A. in N.Y.)
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Issue 3 February 2016

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Le Louvre, Las Vegas Evan Moffitt
iPhones, Flesh,
and the Word:
at Arturo Bandini
Lindsay Preston Zappas
Women Talking About Barney Catherine Wagley
Lingua Ignota:
Faith Wilding
at The Armory Center
for the Arts
Benjamin Lord
A Conversation
with Amalia Ulman
Char Jansen
How We Practice Carmen Winant
Share Your Piece
of the Puzzle
Federica Bueti
Amanda Ross-Ho Photographs
Erik Frydenborg
Reviews Honeydew
at Michael Thibault

Fred Tomaselli
at California State University, Fullerton

Trisha Donnelly
at Matthew Marks Gallery

Bradford Kessler
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Issue 2 November 2015

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Hot Tears Carmen Winant
Slow View:
Molly Larkey
Anna Breininger and Kate Whitlock
Americanicity's Paintings:
Orion Martin
at Favorite Goods
Tracy Jeanne Rosenthal
Layers of Leimert Park Catherine Wagley
Junkspace Junk Food:
Parker Ito
at Kaldi, Smart Objects,
White Cube, and
Château Shatto
Evan Moffitt
Melrose Hustle Keith Vaughn
Max Maslansky Photographs
Monica Majoli
at the Tom of Finland Foundation
White Lee, Black Lee:
William Pope.L’s "Reenactor"
Travis Diehl
Dora Budor Interview Char Jensen
Reviews Mary Ried Kelley
at The Hammer Museum

Tongues Untied
at MOCA Pacific Design Center

No Joke
at Tanya Leighton
(L.A. in Berlin)
Snap Reviews Martin Basher at Anat Ebgi
Body Parts I-V at ASHES ASHES
Eve Fowler at Mier Gallery
Matt Siegle at Park View
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Issue 1 August 2015

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Metaphysical L.A.
Travis Diehl
Art for Art’s Sake:
L.A. in the 1990s
Anthony Pearson
A Dialogue in Two
Synchronous Atmospheres
Erik Morse
with Alexandra Grant
at François Ghebaly
Jonathan Griffin
#studio #visit
with #devin #kenny
Mateo Tannatt
Jibade-Khalil Huffman
Slow View:
Discussion on One Work
Anna Breininger
with Julian Rogers
Reviews Pierre Huyghe

Mernet Larsen
at Various Small Fires

John Currin
at Gagosian, Beverly Hills

Pat O'Niell
at Cherry and Martin

A New Rhythm
at Park View

Unwatchable Scenes and
Other Unreliable Images...
at Public Fiction

Charles Gaines
at The Hammer Museum

Henry Taylor
at Blum & Poe/ Untitled
(L.A. in N.Y.)
Buy the Issue In Our Online Shop
1301 PE
Anat Ebgi (La Cienega)
Anat Ebgi (Wilshire)
Arcana Books
Artbook @ Hauser & Wirth
Babst Gallery
Baert Gallery
Bel Ami
Canary Test
Carlye Packer
Charlie James Gallery
Château Shatto
Chris Sharp Gallery
Cirrus Gallery
Clay ca
Commonwealth & Council
Craft Contemporary
D2 Art (Inglewood)
D2 Art (Westwood)
David Kordansky Gallery
David Zwirner
Diane Rosenstein
François Ghebaly
Gana Art Los Angeles
George Billis Gallery
Giovanni's Room
Hamzianpour & Kia
Hannah Hoffman Gallery
Harper's Gallery
Hashimoto Contemporary
Heavy Manners Library
Helen J Gallery
Human Resources
Hunter Shaw Fine Art
in lieu
LaPau Gallery
Lisson Gallery
Lowell Ryan Projects
Luis De Jesus Los Angeles
MAK Center for Art and Architecture
Make Room Los Angeles
Matter Studio Gallery
Matthew Brown Los Angeles
MOCA Grand Avenue
Monte Vista Projects
Morán Morán
Moskowitz Bayse
Nazarian / Curcio
Night Gallery
Nino Mier Gallery
NOON Projects
O-Town House
One Trick Pony
Paradise Framing
Park View / Paul Soto
Patricia Sweetow Gallery
Regen Projects
Reparations Club
r d f a
REDCAT (Roy and Edna Disney CalArts Theater)
Roberts Projects
Royale Projects
Sean Kelly
Sebastian Gladstone
Shoshana Wayne Gallery
Smart Objects
Steve Turner
Stroll Garden
Tanya Bonakdar Gallery
The Box
The Fulcrum
The Hole
The Landing
The Poetic Research Bureau
The Wende Museum
Thinkspace Projects
Tierra del Sol Gallery
Tiger Strikes Astroid
Tomorrow Today
Track 16
Tyler Park Presents
USC Fisher Museum of Art
UTA Artist Space
Various Small Fires
Village Well Books & Coffee
Outside L.A.
Libraries/ Collections
Baltimore Museum of Art (Baltimore, MD)
Bard College, CCS Library (Annandale-on-Hudson, NY)
Charlotte Street Foundation (Kansas City, MO)
Cranbrook Academy of Art (Bloomfield Hills, MI)
Getty Research Institute (Los Angeles, CA)
Los Angeles Contemporary Archive (Los Angeles, CA)
Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Los Angeles, CA)
Maryland Institute College of Art (Baltimore, MD)
Midway Contemporary Art (Minneapolis, MN)
Museum of Contemporary Art (Los Angeles, CA)
NYS College of Ceramics at Alfred University (Alfred, NY)
Pepperdine University (Malibu, CA)
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (San Francisco, CA)
School of the Art Institute of Chicago (Chicago, IL)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, NY)
University of California Irvine, Langston IMCA (Irvine, CA)
University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, PA)
Walker Art Center (Minneapolis, MN)
Whitney Museum of American Art (New York, NY)
Yale University Library (New Haven, CT)

Interview with Elmer Guevara

Leer en Español

Image courtesy of the artist and Charlie James Gallery, Los Angeles. Photo: Elon Schoenholz.

I first encountered Elmer Guevara’s work during our time as graduate students at Hunter College. His 2022 thesis show presented a series of figurative paintings of family members and versions of his childhood self in South Central Los Angeles. My encounter with both the personal and familial history embedded in these works recalled my early memories of listening to my Korean grandparents’ stories of their post-war immigration to L.A.’s South Bay. I recently reencountered Guevara’s work, this time in his hometown of Los Angeles, at his 2023 solo exhibition House Money at Charlie James Gallery.

In the exhibition, Guevara explores the trauma he inherited from his parents, who lived through more than half of the Salvadoran Civil War before fleeing to the U.S. in the 1980s.1 The artist’s parents settled in South Central among a community of family and friends who also migrated from what he refers to as the “old country.” Guevara’s work communicates his complex heritage by allowing for gaps in his family’s (often hesitant) recollections while also providing valuable context for future generations of Salvadorans to reflect and elaborate upon.

While researching for the exhibition, Guevara sourced firsthand accounts from his family’s narratives and photo albums, as well as from Salvadoran memoirs, documentaries, and films.2 During his work on the series, Guevara refined a gel-photo transfer technique, digitally warping images to fit the contours of his subjects’ bodies before transposing them onto the surface of their painted skin. Dried Up on A Sunday (all works 2023) depicts the artist’s younger brother lounging in bed, recovering from a hangover. The bare skin of his arms, torso, and legs is populated with ghostly family photos and images of the Salvadoran Civil War and the 1992 L.A. Riots. The addition of the photographs transforms Guevara’s figures into vessels, containers on which these histories can live fluidly.3 The transferred images also explore the subjectivity of memory, acknowledging the mutability of narratives across time and the lasting tangibility of intergenerational trauma.

Guevara appears as a young boy in Young Grasshopper. Dressed in a Nick Van Exel jersey—a nod to the artist’s affinity for the Lakers—he clutches a shoebox and basketball. Gel-transferred images of a Nintendo Game Boy and Spider-Man trading cards appear inside the shoebox— nostalgia-inducing objects that defined an entire generation of digital natives4 who grew up in the post-internet age. In December, Guevara and I reconnected to discuss the specific cultural references in House Money and the direction of his ever-evolving visual language.

Sigourney Schultz: What initially drew you to painting?

Elmer Guevara: I did graffiti for most of my teenage life. I met a lot of people in the city through bus hopping—a lot of people who still do it now. As soon as I got a little older, I [met] some friends who were graffiti writers, but also painted. Seeing them painting was super eye-opening for me. I’d never seen anything like that, especially in my neighborhood. The artists who were doing art weren’t doing it for a living; they were doing it because they enjoyed doing it. One of them is my good friend Mario Gutierrez. When I was coming up, we would hang out a lot in his apartment. His living room pretty much became the studio. We would hang out there a lot, and he’d be painting all the time; it was pretty cool-looking. I remember I was like, “Man, I need to try this one day.”

There was a time when I wanted to [become a] paramedic, or try something else, because I was the first person in my family to go to college. Maybe I put this on myself…but I felt like I had a duty to become the next breadwinner. It just seemed so far away to me—being a financially stable artist seemed like a very utopian concept. It seemed like a fairytale.

I eventually got a spot at Hunter [for grad school]… It was wild. I didn’t take much with me. I took two bags and a few thousand bucks, and I was gone. That whole [experience] was intense. It was crazy to adapt, but I’m so thankful that I was brave enough to do it. [It] kind of reminds me of how my parents left their country to try to better their lives.

SS: Once you developed your painting practice, how did you hone in on your subject matter?

EG: [Growing up, I lived in this] little hub that was pretty immigrant-based. [But] we were very influenced by stuff on TV. Outside of that little hub, a ton of other stuff was happening socially in Los Angeles [and] particularly in South Central. There was a big presence of gang culture in the ’90s. So I grew up with that whole personal, Salvadoran heritage, but then the Angeleno one was more based on the social stuff that was happening there… Initially, that’s where my base started.

SS: Your work also delves deep into your family’s history of migration in the aftermath of the Salvadoran Civil War. I’m curious to hear more about what the process of uncovering these stories has been like for you.

EG: It’s a challenge, but I consider it research. My father doesn’t talk about it. I try to bring it up loosely, but I know it’s a huge [weight] on him. Even when [my family] talks about it briefly, they whisper. They’re paranoid about it. It still triggers them.

My mom is a lot more open to discuss[ing] it. But when I hear my mother’s memoir, I keep in mind that memory becomes very distorted. She’s telling me things that she remembers, but it’s been so many years. I’ve done a couple of voice recordings with her. I do think it’s important to keep [the] narrative in the family. Obviously, this is traumatic, but my mother is open. And a few of my aunts are, too. It mostly starts with me having conversations, kind of gossiping with them, and eventually, they dig in a little deep[er]. But I’m always aware of how memory gets distorted. I’m also aware they’re probably not telling me the entire [story] because it’s so traumatic. They want to make it PG for me.

SS: Beyond talking to your family, what other sources do you reference?

EG: A lot of the other research that I do comes from reading memoirs. There’s a renaissance of literature that’s been coming from Salvadorans, people who’ve started to write about their immigration journeys here [to the United States]. These books explicitly create a visual of certain things that were happening there. There’s still processing going on.

I went back [to El Salvador] two years ago. A lot of the old country where my parents are from still looks how they left it. It hasn’t changed much because [the process of rebuilding is] moving a lot slower than it is in the city.

It’s been great just to learn. I didn’t even know why my parents came to this country until I was a teenager. And then I realized, “Oh, they were actually fleeing a war. That’s why they came here.” But no one in school ever taught me this, so it took some of my own digging to figure [the history] out.

Elmer Guevara, Young Grasshopper (detail) (2023). Oil and gel transfer on linen, 30 × 25 inches. © Elmer Guevara. Image courtesy of the artist and Charlie James Gallery, Los Angeles. Photo: Yubo Dong, ofstudio.

SS: You frequently include references to this research through the gel-transfer method. What inspired you to try this technique?

EG: I started doing [the technique] during grad school at Hunter. I liked the work of Njideka Akunyili Crosby, [an L.A.-based] Nigerian artist. She uses [transfers] a lot in the wardrobe and on the walls [of her works]. Seeing her work definitely influenced me a lot. I was trying to see what I could do and innovate in my own way.

Before I wrote my thesis, I was painting bottles, and without even knowing it, I started thinking about the concept of the human body as a container. I was also considering the way we hold memories and different traumas. I was trying to figure out a way to depict inherited trauma, which is one of the main subjects I tend to [explore] because I’m concerned with what’s being genetically passed on to the next offspring and so forth. I just didn’t know how to grasp [this concept]—it felt almost intangible. How can you depict this genetic thing going from one body to another? So that’s where the imagery of putting [the photo transfers] inside the flesh came about.

SS: Do you think that reworking these images in the transfer process helps you process the memories behind them?

EG: I think what makes it difficult for me to experience or re-experience certain memories, specifically the older ones that are before my time, is that I never fully experienced [them]. I’m trying to piece or stitch together my parents’ memories. It becomes difficult for me to really feel that trauma. I think I have it in me because it’s inherited trauma, I just don’t think I feel the explicit side effects, though maybe it comes through [as] anxieties.

[With the] portraits of me or my brother…the experience of being in South Central—that feels more tangible. I think it’s humbling to remember certain things that made you who you are. When I see some of these images, I know these three corners; I’ve seen that liquor store. It triggers memories. Not all are good, but it does help me process them and let them go in a way. It really helps me reflect on them, too. Even the tough ones were still learning experiences.

SS: In addition to reflecting on the hardships of the past, your childhood portraits also feel nostalgic, tapping into the optimism of the ’90s. I love the references to McDonald’s, which, to me and a lot of other children of immigrants, felt like a symbol of the American dream.

EG: It’s funny because I do think of these nostalgic symbols as just [part of] my life. But then I realized how much they affected other people. I wasn’t the only one who went to McDonald’s that much, and I wasn’t the only kid who played with Pokémon cards. It was a whole generation of people.

I’m always thinking of the electronics because they really take you back. Whether it’s cassette players, Game Boys, CD players, or iPods, it’s all about showing you how quickly things are moving. It’s nice to try to pause the viewer and let them reflect on the times based on those symbols and electronics. There were a lot of special things happening [during that time] because it was so simple.

SS: You also include many Lakers references, which feel connected to this nostalgic moment in the ’90s.

EG: [In] 2000, I was nine years old, and the Lakers won the championship. I was in elementary school, but I remember it so clearly. It was such a cool thing to go to the parade. They won it three years in a row when I was nine, ten, and eleven. Can you imagine being a kid and your city’s winning year after year? How could you not be a Lakers fan in L.A. at that time?

I also gravitate towards the jerseys because they’re prominent as streetwear. I love to throw in the throwbacks to remind people that these dudes were good back then. We can’t forget about ’em. And then symbolically, too, I think about basketball and how it’s been a tool for a lot of neighborhood kids to get out of neighborhoods. I think sports have been tools [for] people who are trying to better themselves. So symbolically, that’s a very special thing.

SS: What do you hope viewers will take away from your specific perspective of the city as an Angeleno?

EG: L.A. is such a rich and dense place. There have been enough films—people understand the lowriders, certain clothing, palm trees, and helicopters. There are certain symbols that transcribe easily because of the media and how L.A. has been depicted. There’s enough out there for people to understand [generalizations about L.A.]. My goal is to give people a more specific, rawer example that comes from someone who’s walked the streets, as opposed to someone who just directs [a movie] or tries to portray [what it’s like]. I’d like to give access to my specific pocket of the city.

Elmer Guevara (b. 1990) was born and raised in Los Angeles. Guevara’s upbringing took place in the South Central neighborhood after his parents fled a war-torn El Salvador in the 1980s. He often constructs narratives by sampling family photos from his youth, reframing compositions to form a dialogue about identity and concepts of intergenerational trauma. He received a BFA from Cal State University, Long Beach and an MFA from Hunter College in New York City.

This interview was originally published in Carla issue 35.

Elmer Guevara, Security is Under the Mattress (installation view) (2023). Oil and gel transfer on linen, 72 x 84 inches. © Elmer Guevara. Image courtesy of the artist and Charlie James Gallery, Los Angeles. Photo: Yubo Dong, ofstudio.

Elmer Guevara, House Money (installation view) (2023). © Elmer Guevara. Image courtesy of the artist and Charlie James Gallery, Los Angeles. Photo: Yubo Dong, ofstudio.

Elmer Guevara, Dried Up on A Sunday (detail) (2023). Oil and gel transfer on linen, 72 × 60 inches. © Elmer Guevara. Image courtesy of the artist and Charlie James Gallery, Los Angeles. Photo: Yubo Dong, ofstudio.

  1. A 1979 military coup marked the start of the 12-year conflict between the military dictatorship, backed by the U.S. government, and the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN), a cooperative of guerilla groups. Although a peace deal was reached in 1992, the war has had lasting effects on the country and beyond. See “El Salvador Civil War,” Encyclopædia Britannica, accessed January 10, 2024, https://www.
  2. Guevara cites Carolyn Forché’s What You Have Heard Is True: A Memoir of Witness and Resistance (2019), Susan Bibler Coutin’s Exiled Home: Salvadoran Transnational Youth in the Aftermath of Violence (2016), and the films In the Name of the People (1985) and Voces Inocentes (2004), among others, as influential to his research.
  3. The artist closely links this concept to Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction (1986).
  4. Marc Prensky, “Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants,” On the Horizon, vol. 9, no. 5 (MCB University Press, October 2001).

Sigourney Schultz is an L.A.-based art writer. She holds an MA in Art History from Hunter College in New York City.

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