CHISPAS: A survey exhibition of L.A. woman artists

The exhibiting artists activate our thought processes through their compassionate and strong work. Chispas means sparks, and these artists are creating stimulating contemporary art. Exhibit runs: August 10 through September 8, 2013

Isabel Avila
Carolyn Castano
Mita Cuaron
Val Echavarria
Margaret Garcia
Isabel Martinez
Ofelia Marquez
Toti O‘Brien
Cici Segura Gonzalez


Isabel Avila

Virginia Carmelo (Tongva) Anaheim, CA, 2012

Virginia is a member of the Tongva (Gabrielino) Tribal Council and a seasoned performer and storyteller. Experienced in various Native Dance styles, she was one of the first to teach Aztec Dance in Los Angeles and her children became the 1st generation in the US to be born into the tradition. She mentioned that though Aztec Dance started in Mexico it has always been an inter-tribal practice.

The Tongva, (also referred to as the Gabrielinos- a name given by the Spanish) are an indigenous people of California, whose traditional territory is in present-day Los Angeles, CA. There are over a thousand people of Tongva descent living in the Los Angeles area.

Shell Middens at Bolsa Chica Sacred Site, (Tongva-Ajachemen) Huntington Beach, CA, 2012

Bolsa Chica is a 9,000 year old village, cemetery, and ceremonial site that is the oldest prehistoric village in Orange County. The descendants of the Tongva (Gabrielino) and the Acjachemen (Juaneno) consider this site to be the place of their ancestors and a sacred ceremonial site. To date, over 178 human remains, over 100,000 artifacts, semi-subterranean house pits, and numerous cogged stones have been excavated. Developers like the California Coastal Communities Company have illegally dug up graves and artifacts to create multimillion dollar developments.

“Shell middens are scattered through-out the Bolsa Chica: testimony to the abundant seafood availability to early inhabitants. A series of radio-carbon assays indicate that the site was occupied from about 8,000 to 2,000 years ago. The shell middens can provide the information needed to trace environmental changes, and study the corresponding changes in natural resource exploitation by the early inhabitants of the Bolsa Chica” ~Bolsa Chica Land Trust

*A portion of the sales will go towards the Bolsa Chica Land Trust.

Carolyn Castaño

Fresh Rio, Notes on Hipsters, Soccer Fans, and Wanna Be’s

Fresh Rio is a portrait of Yandara, which mixes or mashes up street styles with the formalist language of Abstract and Minimalist art. Using the local vernacular of beauty salon portraiture, the painting mixes the high and low; from the local storefront painting styles of mom and pop businesses, car lots, and bodegas, to the colors of popular soccer jerseys and the fluorescent lighting and color patterns of both the inner city store and the work of the Light and Space and Op art movements. The portrait is further embellished with glitter, rhinestones, and scrapbooking collaged paper, personalizing it in a way that connects the tradition of portraiture to more contemporary modes of representation found in popular social-media websites, such as MySpace, Facebook, and the ubiquitous Selfie.

Val Echavarria

per·cep·tion \pər-’sep-shən\ n.
1. the process of attaining awareness or understanding of sensory information.

My new body of work continues to explore my fascination with the ambiguity of communication and perception.

The process of perception begins with an object in the real world. By means of light, sound or another physical process, the object stimulates the body’s sensory organs which then transform the input energy into neural activity. This raw pattern of neural activity is transmitted to the brain and processed which then result in a mental recreation of the object.

While our initial hypotheses are usually correct, we cannot always process what we see without the inherent bias of our previous knowledge, so there exists a margin for error. Perception alters what we see, into an impure form of reality, which inevitably changes the way we perceive the truth.

This work attempts to illustrate that ambiguity. As the old saying goes, “Things aren’t always what they seem to be.”

Margaret Garcia

This is not a painting you can hide. I don’t know who she is, but over the years, she keeps reappearing. I don’t know where it comes from. I think it’s a sort of spirit guide. I did a very similar image when I was in Roosevelt High School in which I won first place. This was my first composition as an artist. In the first piece I did of her, she was green. Maybe we have spirit guides as she keeps making her appearance throughout my life.

Ofelia Marquez

“There are certain events of which we have not consciously taken note; they have remained, so to speak, below the threshold of consciousness. They have happened, but they have been absorbed subliminally, without our conscious knowledge.” -Carl Jung

I am a First generation Mexican-American Surrealist born in Santa Ana California, I spent my adolescence in Desert Hot Springs CA. Upon graduating high school I attended Laguna College of Art & Design, graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelor’s in Fine Arts emphasis on illustration. Shortly thereafter I moved to Los Angeles where I began apprenticing under the masterful eye of Aleksei Tivetsky in art restoration & conservation. Under Tivetsky’s guidance I learned to apply structural consolidation to wood panels, as well as proto-Renaissance gold leaf gilding.

My work is highly influenced by Mesoamerican symbolic depictions of the spiritual world. Often in ancient cultures the spiritual is reflected in the observation of nature. For example the winged serpent, associated with the deity Quetzalcoatl, is a combination of two opposites to compose a balance and transformation from the deepest part of earth to the heavens. They stylized their figures and used a combination of two-dimensional and three-dimensional design to communicate important aspect of life.

Remedios Varo, Leonard Baskin and Gustav Klimt, are continual inspirations, specifically Varo’s depiction of surreal dream images that incorporate an amalgamation of mythic and scientific symbols. Cross cultural mythos is a common underlying theme in my work; like mythologies I seek to explain or rationalize one or more aspects of our world, by focusing on the mental and spiritual aspects of the self as it relates to and is impacted by ones surroundings.

Toti O’Brien

Both Il Mondo di Francesco (Francesco’s World) and Otok (Island) belong to a series of pieces called “Pods”. They were meant to be micro-universes, each expressing something intense and unique. The first one reflects bits of stories and conversations, exchanged with my then 3 years old, Francesco. It’s a kind of mother-and-son self-portrait. “Otok” gathers, instead, all my memories of travelling in beautiful Croatia. “Grace” is a recent assemblage piece. It conveys, as well, the concept of a fragile, fragmented universe, pulled together by the artist’s hands.

CiCi Segura Gonzalez

Edith Hillinger Series:

Years ago, I came across a wonderful sculpture in a thrift store and bought it. I could never make out the
signature on the piece or the title. I just called it ‘Napoleon’.

Recently, I went to an exhibit by Edith Hillinger. I had never seen her work before but her paintings
reminded me of this sculpture While attending Ms. Hillinger’s lecture and showing her a photo of it, she told me that indeed, it was her first sculpture from art school, when she was a young girl. She had named it “Napoleon”.

My paintings for the ‘Chispas Exhibit’ pay homage to 80 year old, San Francisco abstract artist Edith
Hillinger. Her appreciation of different cultures influenced Edith’s work greatly. In this series, I have used her love of collage and cross culture patterns, as a tribute to her and her inspiration.