"B.A.T. State III," showing at Cal State Long Beach's Kleefeld Contemporary Art Museum (formerly the University Art Museum) presents a diverse body of prints by women artists from the archives of El Nopal Press in Los Angeles. Bon a Tirer (B.A.T.) is the abbreviation for “good to go,” the final approval given by the artist to the master printer, a signal to begin printing the final run.
Co-curators Anita Bunn and Francesco X. Siqueiros have selected the themes of artistic representation and political activism for the show, examining how the evolution of printmaking is influenced by the cultural and geographic border between California and Mexico. Selected artworks are drawn from 30 years of production at the press highlighting the “alchemy,” of printmaking, with pieces that range from the traditional to the experimental. The show is a vibrant mix of lithographs, relief prints and monoprints.
Curators Siqueiros and Bunn present the idea of the border as a cultural crossing, much as El Nopal promotes artistic creation across borders, in Los Angeles and Mexico City. The 87 works by 37 artists in the show build an interconnected web of artistic production, chronicling three generations of iconic artistic practice.
“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.
Artists in the show include Lisa Adams, Judith F. Baca, Judie Bamber, Marietta Bernstorff, Susan Bolles, Mariana Botey, Anita Bunn, Carolyn Castaño, Yreina D. Cervántez, Emily Cheng, Chelsea Dean, Sandra de la Loza, Pia Elizondo, Yanieb Fabre, Tatyana Fazlalizadeh, Elsa Flores, Diane Gamboa, Silvia Gruner, Sherin Guirguis, Shirley Jaffe, Annie Lapin, Laurie Lipton, Dominique Liquois, Mara Lonner, Rocío Maldonado, Rebecca Morales, Ruby Osorio, Renée Petropoulos, Daniela Rossell, Analia Saban, Susan Silton, Linda Stark, Marika Echachis Swan, Laureana Toledo, Alison Walker, Marion Wesson, and Liat Yossifor.
Linda Stark’s "Black Widow Series" was inspired by the black widow spiders that “shared” her studio space with her. Stark said that she was inspired by the spider, noted that the spider’s bodies resembled what is thought to be the traditional “feminine” shape, here shown in representational, disembodied and abstractive formats.
“The lithographs are nocturnal portraits of black widow spiders, scaled up," Stark said. "The hourglass symbol varies from spider to spider, and can resemble a woman in a red dress. These works reference the cult of the black widow, or the femme fatale archetype.”
“Print-making can unite all media,” commented Amanda Fruta, public affairs and communications specialist at Kleefeld Contemporary. “The artists in this show have different esthetics, work in design, urban planning, architecture, sketching and many other media. Print-making, especially as nurtured … by El Nopal Press, allows for an envisioning collaboration between artist and master printer.”
"B.A.T III." covers all but one wall of the galleries. One wall is given over to Emergence of the Kelp Deer by artist and CSULB alum Christine Nguyen. It is impressive in mastery and size, created entirely with 8x10 inch vellum sheets. Viewing this huge, colorful piece is like being immersed in jewel-tone photo-negatives.
“We want to feature and support the CSULB artistic community,” Fruta said.
"B.A.T. State III: Women Artists in Conversation" with El Nopal Press runs from Sept. 9 to Nov. 14. The Kleefeld Contemporary Art Museum is free, and is located on the Cal State Long Beach campus, 1250 Bellflower Blvd. For information call 562-985-5761, or go to www.csulb.edu/carolyn-campagna-kleefeld-contemporary-art-museum.