Work Born of LA’s Grit and Grime
“I wish to share the issues I recognize in my world,” Michael Alvarez tells Hyperallergic, “locations I fell in love with for various causes.” These are the liminal areas of Los Angeles: the rail yards, freeway underpasses, and public parks that act as the town’s connective tissue. As a skateboarder and graffiti artist rising up within the neighborhood of El Sereno, just a few miles northeast of downtown LA, these had been Alvarez’s playgrounds, the place he discovered neighborhood and honed his craft.
His present solo present at Matthew Brown Gallery within the metropolis’s Fairfax District options large-scale work that depict these websites, juxtaposing giant expanses of sky and concrete with intimate human particulars harking back to Northern European Renaissance landscapes. Utilizing dozens of reference pictures for every work, Alvarez builds up his canvases with oil, spray paint, and collage, giving an impression not of a static scene, however of motion, life, and reminiscence, full of ghostly palimpsests.
He pastes in bits of particles picked up alongside his city excursions: peeling wall paint, crushed bottle caps, latex, and different items of grime and gunk — together with years of “paint scabs” from his studio — developing his landscapes from scraps of literal ones.
“Barrier Bash (Artwork Present on the D.I.Y)” (2022) reproduces an open-air artwork present that Alvarez organized together with his buddy and fellow artist Tomas (depicted within the foreground with a blue shirt and khakis) on an El Sereno dead-end road that abuts practice tracks. In opposition to a backdrop of blue sky and inexperienced hills, a crowd of holiday makers peruses miniature variations of Alvarez’s work that hold close by. In “Neighborhood Watch” (2012), a full of life road scene on Jap Avenue is interrupted by a automobile crash within the heart of the portray, maybe a nod to pioneering Chicano artist Carlos Almaraz’s fiery crash work. The injury is partially obscured by the massive, bald head of Alvarez’s uncle Frank, highlighting the significance of household that’s showcased in one other collection of works on view that take inspiration from household photograph albums.
“For Vincent (Final Mission)” (2022) is a memorial picture to Alvarez’s cousin Vincent, who misplaced his life to gun violence in 2008, simply months after being launched from jail. “We grew up collectively. Artwork was an enormous connection,” he says, including that the 2 would ship drawings and pictures backwards and forwards whereas Vincent was incarcerated. “Life took us on totally different tracks.”
Faraway from the asphalt and concrete of most of his work is the verdant panorama in “Take a Hike” (2014), which depicts Hermit Falls, a well-liked mountaineering and swimming spot nestled into the bottom of Angeles Nationwide Forest. “As somebody who’s grown up within the metropolis, for me it appears like a break from the density of every part,” Alvarez notes.
The present’s title, Good Trying Out, has a number of meanings, initially referring to Alvarez’s function as a younger lookout for his buddies once they had been illicitly tagging. It additionally refers back to the surprise that may be gleaned from simply conserving your eyes open and being conscious of your environment, nevertheless banal. His work share this sense of discovery and exploration amongst the grime and hazard.
“I’m looking for moments that stood out to me that felt optimistic, however which have impressions of trauma and heaviness,” Alvarez defined. “There’s a lot resilience that I’m fortunate to be round and take in.”