“Amazing,” and “eye captivating!” are just a few of the words that fair goers used to describe the exhibit, PST: LA/LA, on display at the Millard Sheets Art Center at Fairplex in Pomona.
The 12,000-square foot gallery is host to the works of artists and Chicana Civil Rights activists Judithe Hernández and Patssi Valdez, in what is their first collaborative exhibition, “One Path Two Journeys.”
Whether visitors are captured by Hernández’s richly colored pastel portraits or Valdez’s bright and airy dreams on canvas, there is a work of art for everyone in this free exhibit.
Hernández, a Los Angeles native and member of the artist collective Los Four, has an extensive resume that includes her works of art displayed in distinguished institutions such as the Smithsonian American Art Museum and Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art.
Born and raised in East Los Angeles, Valdez, who is also a founding member of the avant-garde art collective, ASCO, is known for her mixed media and vibrant acrylic on canvas.
Valdez’s work has led her to become a recipient of respected awards by the J. Paul Getty Trust Fund for the Visual Arts, and has also acquired her a permanent residence in the Whitney Museum of American Art.
This highly anticipated collective helped “put Millard Sheets back on the map,” Thomas Canavan, Art Center manager said.
Canavan, 36, has over three years of experience with producing exhibits at the Millard Sheets Art Center.
With Latinos forming the largest demographic of the nearby communities, Canavan said that the direct connection to the culture is helpful.
Those that would not usually have a chance to see these works of art now have a reason to, he added.
In the short amount of time since the fair has begun, Canavan has heard many visitors say things such as, “Finally!” and “It’s about time,” which he said he felt was a positive reaction to seeing Latinas being recognized for their talent and contributions to society.
Canavan also worked closely with Hernández and Valdez before the exhibit opened, putting the artwork in their respective areas, according to the artists’ intentions.
The process, from birth to finish, took two years, Canavan said.
“It was an honor to work with live, living artists – to be able to see their vision and tell their stories,” Canavan said.
The conversations seemed similar between patrons as they tried to understand Valdez’s vibrant artwork, which had a “velvet feel,” Veronica Marquez of Pomona said.
Marquez, 21, works as a customer service representative inside of the Millard Sheets Art Center.
“I felt empowered by these women,” Marquez said.
She added that some people have asked her and assumed that the artwork was created by men, to which she politely answers with a “no.”
Both Marquez and Canavan said that visitors take their time walking through the exhibit so that they can truly enjoy the art work.
One fair goer “spent two hours appreciating one piece in particular,” Marquez said.
Some patrons had been seen shedding a tear, seeming to have a direct emotional connection to the pieces.
Kate Katsuhiro, 20, of Chino Hills said all of the artwork “reflects being a Chicana,” which solidifies the efforts of both Hernández and Valdez of sharing their stories through art in hopes of telling life struggles that they overcame and successes as women in a mainly male dominated industry.
“One Path Two Journeys” runs through Jan. 28, 2018.
Catalina Diaz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.