Arts & Life, Fine & Performing Arts

A new art exhibit is featured at the Kleefeld Contemporary Art Museum

A new art exhibit featuring female artists opened Saturday at the Carolyn Campagna Kleefeld Contemporary Art Museum at Long Beach State.

The exhibit, “B.A.T State III: Women Artists in Conversation with El Nopal Press,” is co-curated by Anita Bunn and Francesco X. Siqueiros and presents a diverse array of prints by 37 female artists from the archives of El Nopal Press. 

“I am pleased to witness the work of women artists that have collaborated with El Nopal Press, with all their openness, to produce this great display of prints,” Siqueiros said. 

Siqueiros is the founder of El Nopal Press and has been an active artist in the Los Angeles art scene since the mid-‘80s. He switches constantly between the roles of artist, master printmaker and curator. Siqueiros’s work as a painter and printmaker have been exhibited in galleries and museums in the United States, Mexico, Paris and other locations. 

El Nopal Press was established in 1990 and has published limited edition prints for nearly three decades, recording the complex flux of ideas between mostly Los Angeles and Mexico City.

El Nopal Press is an independent creative space where ideas around the border coexist and activate and build conversation. It produces artwork that is dedicated to the artist’s individual ideas and expressions and creates respect for master printmaking. The company seeks international recognition for artists who are a part of its creative enterprise. 

Bunn is an artist and adjunct instructor of photography at several colleges and universities. 

Bunn has displayed her art both nationally and internationally, and she has developed a variety of local curatorial projects. Her artwork is in many collections, including the Wallis Annenberg Department of Photography at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Capital Group, Los Angeles. 

In printmaking, the phrase “Bon a Tirer,” “B.A.T,” translates as “good to go” and refers to the final trial proof that an artist approves before the master printer begins production. 

Curators Bunn and Siqueiros engage in themes of artistic representation and political activism while they examine how the evolution of printmaking is influenced by the cultural and geographic border between California and Mexico. 

The 37 female artists selected for the exhibit trace trajectories of influence, tension and overlap that build an interconnected web of artistic production in Mexico and California from the early ‘90s to the present. 

One of the pieces of art is a series by Judie Bamber, which features prints of nine different black and white cats. 

“Previous to beginning this work, I, along with many of my friends had a black and white cat,” Bamber said. “As I spent time looking at each cat, I began to notice their patterning. I have had a long-standing interest in the intersection between abstraction and representation.” 

Bamber was struck by the fact that each cat had a different pattern that appeared to be an abstraction overlaid onto a recognizable form. 

Another piece of art in the exhibit was a lithograph series titled “Black Widow” by Linda Stark. 

“I was inspired by the presence of Black Widows around my urban studio and my encounters with them,” Stark said. “Sometimes I had to kill them if they were near doors, for which I felt bad, so I started to do paintings about them, they were part of my everyday life and I needed to honor them posthumously.” 

Stark said that her “Black Widow” works reference the cult of the black widow or femme fatale archetype. 

“B.A.T. State III: Women Artists in Conversation with El Nopal Press” will be on display at the Kleefeld Contemporary Art Museum from Sept. 9 through Nov. 14.

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