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'Los Angeles Times' Spotlight on SVA's Gary Simmons

From the Los Angeles Times: “The California African American Museum is teeming with ghosts. They haunt its lobby atrium, which is airy and still, bleached out from sunlight seeping in through a canopy of skylights onto stark white walls.

Five soaring murals pop against this blinding palette, jet-black chalkboard surfaces bearing the hand-drawn titles of silent and early talkie films: ‘The Birth of a Nation,’ ‘Hi De Ho,’ ‘Check and Double Check.’ The white text is blurry and fading, as if just on the brink of erasure—ephemeral messages, ghost-like themselves.

The installation is Gary Simmons’ ‘Fade to Black,’ opening Wednesday, in which the artist conjures the spirits of under-recognized or long-forgotten African American actors. For his first Los Angeles museum show and in one of his largest installations to date, Simmons has employed his signature ‘erasure technique,’ as he calls it, which he’s honed for more than two decades and has shown at New York’s Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art, among other institutions. By hand-smudging and sculpting wet paint, he creates the shimmering effect of partly erased chalk. The murals here, seemingly simplistic, address pop culture as well as issues of race, class and the fragmented, fleeting nature of memory…” (For the full story and a video, click here)

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