Armando G. Cortes
July 13 - August 17, 2019 | Wednesday — Saturday, 12-6 pm

Visitor Welcome Center presents Reverberante, a solo exhibition by Armando G. Cortes. This is the artist’s first solo exhibition in Los Angeles. 

In Urequio, Michoacan, natural springs have sustained the town’s inhabitants for over a century. Often times, the springs sprout through the clay floors of adobe homes, threatening their structural integrity. To prevent water damage, villagers have carved small channels to carefully divert the water out of their dwellings. Drawing from the geology of his family’s home and his lived experience in Urequio, Armando G. Cortes builds a clay ground with a path for water atop the gallery’s floor, paving a platform upon which stories spring.

Cortes uses clay, drawing, fire and cultural symbols to materialize his transnational experience of life between Urequio and Los Angeles. A golden nopal sits in the center of the room, limning the natural connection between the two geographies. Its ruggedness decorates the southwestern landscape, and as a staple food source for the poor, the nopal’s resilience and propagative nature have nurtured life for millennia. Cortes transforms the nopal with gold and smoke to imbue it with myth. In Urequio, mysterious fires have been sighted in the hillsides, whose mythical burns have prompted observers to dig for gold and the forgotten. Cortes’ work offers an inheritance marked by magic, myth, and change. 

As a result of the current administration’s pressures, Cortes’ family members, as well as members in his community, endure life threatening changes on a daily basis. Two of Cortes’ adolescent cousins are the subjects of his drawings. Born and raised in Los Angeles, the teenagers may soon face a permanent move to Urequio, where they have never visited. The artist has been teaching his cousins how to garden and work with adobe, while passing on histories and knowledge from a home they do not yet know, in hopes that these forms of sustenance may prepare them for the future. In two drawings, the teenagers are depicted in their grandmother’s Urequio garden with native wildlife whose mythical significance embody resilience and continuity, as well as premonitions of danger. Here, the artist reminds his young cousins, as well as visitors, of the magical and mournful possibilities of survival within a perpetual state of uncertainty.

Armando Cortes (b. 1989, Urequio, Michoacan, Mexico) is an artist working and living in the industrial town of Wilmington, CA. Through drawing, sculpture, and performance, his works explore labor and repetition in urban and rural surroundings. His work is informed by magical realism, faith, and stories told to him through his parents and elders in his community. Recent shows include Praxis, Long Beach Museum of Art, Melting Point, Craft and Folk Art Museum, Terrain Biennial, and Sur Biennial. He holds a BA from UCLA and will begin the MFA in Sculpture program at Yale University this fall.

Hande Sever
When the Geraniums Bloom
July 13 - August 17, 2019 | Wednesday — Saturday, 12-6 pm

On September 12, 1980, before dawn, a right-wing military junta led by General Kenan Evren took state power in Turkey. Leveraged by the Carter administration, the military coup established martial law, abolished civil rights, and ruled the country for the next three years. During this time, the Turkish Armed Forces persecuted millions from the Turkish student movement, whose members sought to end national oppression through social reform. As a result, the military arrested 750,000 people; blacklisted 1,683,000; tried 230,000 in 210,000 lawsuits; sentenced 7,000 to death; revoked the citizenship of 17,000 and denied the right of 388,000 from obtaining a passport. 

When the Geraniums Bloom is an exhibition by artist Hande Sever, who recalls her mother’s experience of the coup d'état through plants, soil, and compost. During that time, prisons were synonymous with torture centers – the most notorious of which were Metris, Diyarbakır and Ulucanlar. The artist’s mother was kept in the Metris Military Prison – now known as Metris Closed Penitentiary. While incarcerated, Sever’s mother planted beans as a reminder of the outside world and of her life before incarceration, where she tended geranium plants on her balcony. Through her mother’s narrative, Sever’s exhibition examines the state of exception that confined the outdoor activity of gardening to an indoor space, while unearthing historical events that led to the poetic implications and symbolism of the geranium flower within the Turkish Student Movement. Sever brings together the complexities of botanical symbolism and its influence on Turkish poetry, while revealing its shifts in meaning brought upon by the US intervention in Middle Eastern politics during the Cold War. 

A research based artist working across media – notably video, performance and sound – Hande Sever was raised in Istanbul, Turkey and received an MFA from the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) in Valencia, CA. Informed by interdisciplinary processes, her works often take up her family’s history of persecution to explore divergent lines of inquiries, including issues of exile and post-coloniality. Her work has been included in exhibitions and screenings at Hauser & Wirth in Somerset, UK; Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Human Resources and the BOX Gallery in Los Angeles, CA. Sever has published with the Getty Research Journal, Journal of Arts & Communities, Hayal Perdesi, 5Harfliler and Hauser & Wirth. She is currently a member of the collective residency at NAVEL Los Angeles and teaches at CalArts as part of the Photography and Media Program.