Hollywood in Havana: Five Decades of Cuban Posters Promoting U.S. Films brings together innovative Cuban posters promoting American films, made from 1960 to 2009. Produced by Instituto Cubano del Arte Industria Cinematograficos (ICAIC), the posters were part of an initiative of the revolutionary government to develop cultural awareness and dialogue after Fidel Castro and the guerrilla forces overthrew the brutal dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista. The Cuban Revolution of 1959 altered not only politics, society, and the economy but the cultural sphere as well, greatly expanding access to and engagement with the arts, particularly cinema, for a large portion of the population. During the early years of the Revolution, poster designers had few material resources and operated in an almost artisanal manner, using the silkscreen technique. While the limited resources imposed by the embargo inspired many of the design decisions, revolutionary ideals also influenced these graphic artists. The approximately 40 posters featured in the exhibition—which promoted films such as Singin’ in the Rain, Cabaret, and Silence of the Lambs as well as a few select Cuban films, such as a documentary about Marilyn Monroe—are astonishing in their composition, stylistic diversity, and craft. Hollywood in Havana showcases how design and visual imagery in film posters, which are ubiquitous in Los Angeles, can infiltrate our lives and inform our ideas about the world.
Hollywood in Havana: Five Decades of Cuban Posters Promoting U.S. Films is co-organized by the Pasadena Museum of California Art (PMCA) in partnership with the Center for the Study of Political Graphics (CSPG) and is curated by CSPG Executive Director Carol A. Wells, and accompanied by a brochure. The exhibition is supported by the PMCA Board of Directors and PMCA Ambassador Circle. Media sponsorship is provided by LALA.
The exhibition is part of Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, a far-reaching and ambitious exploration of Latin American and Latino art in dialogue with Los Angeles, taking place from September 2017 through January 2018 at more than 70 cultural institutions across Southern California. Pacific Standard Time is an initiative of the Getty. The presenting sponsor is Bank of America.
One of California’s most trailblazing artists, E. Charlton Fortune (1885–1969) had a thriving career as a painter until the age of forty-three, when she began a pioneering new vocation in liturgical art. E. Charlton Fortune: The Colorful Spirit pairs the artist’s impressionist and modernist landscapes with her ecclesiastical paintings, sculptures, furnishings, and other designs produced for the Catholic Church.
Though her paintings are frequently labeled impressionist, Fortune’s work moved beyond the style, a fact well recognized in her own time. Rather than focusing on nature for its own sake, she emphasized humanity’s impact on the land and was best known for colorful landscapes featuring architecture and elements of modern life as well as figures, many of them female. These works were strong in color—frequently rendered in primary or complementary hues—and rugged and gestural in execution. Because of this, some reviewers and critics thought she was a man. Many also described her paintings as “masculine,” attributing their success to a perceived virility—then one of the most highly regarded qualities in art.
Starting in 1928, Fortune’s disenchantment with mass-produced ecclesiastical art led her to create designs of her own and then found the Monterey Guild, a group of skilled craftspeople who, under her direction, created original, modern artworks for churches. Fortune’s religious artworks returned the focus to the liturgy and reinforced the importance of design and handcraftsmanship within Church interiors.
E. Charlton Fortune: The Colorful Spirit illuminates this formidable artist’s contributions both to early California painting and American liturgical design through approximately eighty works.
E. Charlton Fortune: The Colorful Spirit is organized by the Pasadena Museum of California Art and curated by Scott A. Shields, Ph.D., California art scholar and Crocker Art Museum’s Associate Director and Chief Curator. A 240-page, fully illustrated catalogue featuring scholarly essays by Shields and by Julianne Burton-Carvajal, Ph.D., accompanies the exhibition. Following its debut at the PMCA, the exhibition will travel to the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento from January 28–April 22, 2018, and the Monterey Museum of Art from May 24–August 27, 2018.
For the last twenty-five years native Angeleno and one of the country’s foremost reduction linocut artists Dave Lefner (b. 1969) has explored and recorded the historic and vintage characteristics of Los Angeles, from the sleek lines of mid-century American automobiles, to roadside signage and dilapidated neon theater marquees. A self-professed “old soul,” Lefner preserves the icons of America’s Golden Age in the exacting, time-consuming, and relatively lost art of reduction linocuts. The artist’s prints depict a nostalgia for the glamour of old Los Angeles with both a playfulness and masterful precision that belies their complex creation. LA Redux: Reduction Linocuts by Dave Lefner explores Lefner’s prints and process, presenting a vivid picture of Los Angeles’s past and present as well as the ingenuity and creative processes the city continues to inspire.
On view in the PMCA’s Project Room, the exhibition celebrates the artist’s significance as part of the Los Angeles and PMCA community. Not only does Lefner live and work at The Brewery, the world’s largest artist colony, he also regularly leads printmaking workshops at the PMCA and is one of the honorees at the Museum’s ¡Fiesta Cubana! gala in fall 2017. Featuring approximately 10 prints, Los Angeles Redux, like the artist’s retro prints, revives the bygone architecture, signage, and automobiles of Los Angeles while shining a neon spotlight on the artist’s dedication to craft and the perpetuation of culture.
LA Redux: Reduction Linocuts by Dave Lefner is organized by the Pasadena Museum of California Art. The exhibition is supported by the PMCA Board of Directors, PMCA Ambassador Circle, and the California Visionary Fund.