Editor’s Note: This article is a guest post to help promote our friends who have been working hard to create & curate L.A.’s ORIGINALES
“Words are free, it’s how you use them that may cost you.”
L.A.’s ORIGINALES is a community gathering to support marginalized artists as well as raise self-awareness of the often-subconscious negative effects of gendered language. Curated by Steve Galindo, aka The Style Guide, the show features 8 Los Angeles women in the arts. Opening night is October 15th and runs through the 30th at The HVNS. (7303 Melrose Ave.)
Lexical warfare—the theme of the event—is a phrase defined as the battle over how a term is to be understood. What are the repercussions when biased language is not challenged and merely accepted at face value?
Aren’t underage women actually children? Why don’t we call men boy boss, working fathers or dadpreneurs? Why is the six-week abortion ban dubbed the Heartbeat Bill? Especially since medical experts confirm it’s too early of a stage for an embryo to physically develop a heart. Why is it constantly violence against women when its men who are predominantly violent against women?
Is responsibility unjustly being shifted? And why does feminism carry a negative connotation if it’s meant to establish the political, economic, personal and social equality of the sexes—Isn’t that a positive thing? Why is she a slut for enjoying sex the same way men do? Words punish the behavior of women that is acceptable for men and in a culture that undervalues women, L.A.’s ORIGINALES is meant to offer introspection, challenge audiences to look at their own internal bias and move forward redefined.
In a foreword, curator Steve Galindo expanded upon the concept: “With L.A.’s ORIGINALES, we are presenting original works by contemporary minds that speak on self-reflection of the feminine, quantum entanglement, liberation and neo-classical. Women with unique voices reflective of their space, sparking conversation with their radical and unique work all the while setting the tone towards equality, liberation and autonomy with their work.”
Meet the Artists:
Amy Smith is a self-taught contemporary artist always evolving. Her artwork includes murals, stencils, collage work, illustrations, digital graphic design, paint, and spray paint, all to create one-of-a-kind pieces that reflect both her passions and fury, juxtaposed through the lens of imagination. While some of her work is driven by political, social, and environmental injustice, most reflect her deeply-rooted optimism and belief in the power of the feminist spirit, unity and love.
Her portrait collage series deconstructs recycled fashion magazines to represent both her love for self-expression and her contempt for excessive consumption and manipulation. Tearing fashion magazines that are carefully crafted to objectify women, she transforms corporate messaging into words and images that celebrate people that create our beautiful tapestry of humanity.
“When humanity is seen as more than just a number or consumer, we can connect on a deeper level.”
Amy Smith’s work has been featured in prestigious art exhibitions like the LA Art Show, The Other Art Fair, and has been selected for various public art initiatives including LA County Arts celebrating the Centennial of the 19th Amendment among many others.
With her first upcoming museum show at Ontario museum at the end of 2022, she continues to expand her message throughout the art world.
Her work is internationally collected, gallery represented and featured on many tv/film shows. Her focus is to connect humanity through her art by sharing messages of a hope and unity for a better future.
A true ”REE-NAISSANCE” woman. ‘RT’ aka Reena Tolentino, is establishing her art and brand on an International level. Between creating in her atelier in England and developing ancillaries so her art can live in different mediums including, apparel, jewelry and glass blowing sculptures. The limits for Tolentino are truly sky high as she plans to paint on the Moon.
In the meantime, she’s planning earth bound events including upcoming exclusive private collector viewings in Miami and here in Los Angeles over the coming months.
RT’s canvases tell individual journeys, Struggles and Successes through a multi- layered contextualization of abstract energy, negative space, vibrant color and a monochromatic/ Rorschach ink style portrait as each works foundation.
Reena’s showing will feature a royal flush of iconic women including the Queen of England, Whitney Houston, Sophia Loren, Princess Leia and a yours truly Self Portrait reminiscent of the Renaissance Greats.
MRSN is a Los Angeles based street artist who works predominantly with stencils and spray paint. She discovered her passion for stenciling in her middle school art class, but really started creating in her early twenties.
Growing up in LA, she was exposed to many different forms of art, which inspired her to find her own outlets. She draws from her experience with music, writing, and skateboard culture to cultivate an experience for anyone who views her work. MRSN sees her work as a bridge between the casual art admirer and the seasoned collector.
Artists like Banksy and Shepard Fairey have inspired MRSN to continue to grow her craft and to help convey the message that all art, whether it be the main attraction at The Broad, or a quick painting on your local corner store, can have a life changing impact on anyone who sees it.
Jacqueline Valenzuela is a multimedia artist currently residing in City Terrace, while creating out of her studio space in Whittier. Valenzuela’s work is centered around her experiences as a woman within the Chicano world of lowriding. By focusing on women lowriders like herself she brings their stories to a wider audience that would otherwise be unaware about women who cruise, work on and cherish their Lowriders. Her works on canvas use bold colors, portraiture and the urban landscape to create compositions that emphasize femininity in a male-dominated world. Her installation work revolves around using found objects to create a sense of home and familiarity to the viewers. Lastly, her newest extension of her art practice has pushed her boundaries more in the lowrider world. Valenzuela has begun to paint on Lowriders as well as found car parts to force the male dominated automotive industry to also acknowledge the impact that women can have when entering these spaces. Her art practice reflects the deep roots she has planted in the lowrider community by bridging the gap between fine art and this underrepresented community.
[Street art name: Happily Ever Sofia] is a Los Angeles based artist.
Sofia’s wheatpasted images of peaceful young women have challenged the macho hegemony of street art culture and emphasized the feminine spirit. The graphic elements in her adhesive street art make the viewing experience accessible to working class intimidated by the elitism surrounding contemporary art.
Sofia’s work encourages to embrace the past, preserve our cultural legacy and continue to address equal human rights worldwide.
The streets of LA never sleep either –
Always a whizzing going by-
a helicopter shaking the foundation of this overpriced, unstable-
community developers cash cow of a rental unit.
Sirens, and motor bikes, and car alarms,
and children screaming-
all hours of the night .
Oh, if you’re a light sleeper-
do not move to the city.
You’ll be depleted. exhausted .
You’ll carry bags.
Bags so heavy, you thought –
you might rather lie down, right there, on the pavement.
Wait for someone to come and pick you up.
Ivy Velázquez is a 21 year old 1st Gen Mexican-American Artist born and raised from Los Angeles California. She paints cartoon style characters and expresses them through Graffiti/Spray Paint art.
Question: What do you want people to know about you?
Amy: I’m a mixed media artist. I create work digitally and physically, always looking for ways to explore and challenge the process.
Reena: I ask that same question to myself. As an artist, I’m creatively driven, which takes me to global destination always adding elements of culture and immersing myself in my la local communities.
MRSN: That I am just a normal person who loves to paint.
Jacqueline: Growing up I never really knew that being an artist was an actual career path. Somehow being an artist sounded like something that people in the 1800s did. The reasoning for this is that the only instances in which I was introduced to artist they were never contemporary artist, much less women artist. I actually only figured out that I could be an artist when I applied to universities and was faced with making a decision to choose a degree to pursue. And I’m so grateful that I did choose to major in fine art, specifically in drawing and painting. I was always a creative child and I would’ve never been able to tap in to that passion without art school.
Because of this I try to make my art as accessible to my community as possible. I think it’s extremely important that young children are exposed to artist that look like them or that create art that reminds these children of their own experiences. Just making that accessible can make a world of an difference in a child’s life. So I’m really big on giving underrepresented communities a platform through my art as well as showing work in mostly community based spaces so that these communities can see themselves reflected in art.
Sophia: I want to live a peaceful, calm, quite life in isolation.
Janae: I want people to know that I am a multi-talented and nurturing, understanding person – unless I’m being threatened or underestimated lol I would consider myself a recovering extremist.
Ivy: Hi i’m Ivy! I am a 21 year old 1st Gen Mexican American artist born and raised from Los Angeles. I love painting cartoon characters and expressing it through graffiti/spray paint art. My inspirations come from my grandparents and culture, spirituality, Los Angeles & Childhood Nostalgia.
My biggest artistic influences are my peers. I learn the most from experiencing their work.
Question: Who are your biggest artistic influences?
Amy: My artistic influences come from traditional and more contemporary. I’ve always been a fan of Van Gogh and other Impressionists. More contemporary artists like Robert Rausenberg and Barbara Kruger. And street artists like Guerrilla Girls, Swoon, JR, and Banksy
Reena: Artemisia Gentileschi, Frida Kahlo and Yayoi Kusama are my biggest artistic influences.
MRSN: I think in everyday life my influences are the other artists with whom I surround myself. More recently I have been interested in Greco-Roman sculptures and exploring how I can integrate some of that style into my work.
Jacqueline: My biggest artistic influences are my peers. I learn the most from experiencing their work. For example, my dear friend Kiara Machado creates these intricate paintings that are layered with colors and floral designs. Yet, they have a hint of urban life. Viewing her paintings has vastly impacted the ways in which I think of creating compositions. Then there’s lowrider painters. I have the pleasure to be engaged to one, Mark Hocutt. Seeing the ways in which he creates these masterpieces on objects (lowrider cars) baffles me. I highly admire the way in which Lowriders can actually be kinetic sculptures. They traverse boulevards, are accessible to the community, and they are art pieces.
Having access to such talented peers really pushes me to create what I want to create and to continue to learn about my art practice on the daily.
Sophia: Maya Deren, Georgia O’Keeffe, Diamanda Galas, Tate Mosesian, Manuel Ocampo, Charles Bukowski.
Janae: I’m honestly not very good with artists names outside of the top few that most people know. Frida Kahlo , Piet Mondrian, Picasso, Francis Bacon, Van Gogh, Basquiat – the Color schemes of Thai Mainhard
Ivy: One of my biggest artistic influences would be Lady Pink. Lady Pink is an Ecuadorian OG from the graff scene and was one of the first female taggers up during NYCs golden era. I’m able to relate and connect with her on a lot of diff levels especially as 1st gen latina artist in a male dominated scene! Her interviews are very uplifting & inspiring for me, as well as films that she’s been in, projects that she was apart of, etc. everything about her is dope!! I have a few other big artists that I would name but majority of my artistic influences come from my 2 tios (former painters & tagger), artist homies that I’ve painted with along my painting journey and artists in my environment that are self made!
Question: What’s the purpose or goal of your work?
Amy: I use my art as self expression and a way to connect with people so we can share in our experiences. I create space for people to feel seen and heard.
Reena: I want people to see my art and through bright colors. I want to capture my onlookers vulnerability and peek back the layers to reveal that all these individual struggle, human relationships, are shared by all, and even though we’re on our individual journey, we are never alone.
MRSN: The goal of my work is to make fine art and original art accessible to everyone. I feel like there is such a gatekeeping culture with the fine art and gallery world and I want to sort of be the antithesis to that.
Jaqueline: The purpose of my body of work is to create pieces that bridge the gap between the fine art world and the underrepresented communities. Oftentimes only people from low income communities see the beauty in our surroundings, our people. By creating pieces that show that these communities are important and hold stories I give them a platform. Making each world accessible to the other.
Sophia: Art for art’s sake. And, to share my perspective as an Armenian-born, American woman artist.
Janae: I aim to challenge perspective in my work and communicate an insight into situations experienced from personal view.
Ivy: Every piece or character that I paint has a different purpose/goal and usually I let the viewer use their imagination and make it theirs. someone’s interpretation of my pieces or characters is probably perceived very differently than what it originally is but that’s where the fun part comes in and I like to see what people feel/come up with from my pieces.
I make art for art’s sake. And, to share my perspective as an Armenian-born, American woman artist.
Question: What message is your work conveying?
Amy: My work focuses on empowerment and joy while commenting on social justice and political messages.
Reena: In my most recent Gold Series: Inspired by Pablo Picasso, my work evokes the strength, fertility and the invaluable force of a woman, and the nuclear family as a powerhouse.
MRSN: I don’t have a singular pinned down message, but I have started using QR codes to supplement the information for specific pieces when I post them in the streets. For Black History Month I created paintings of black icons through history, many of whom are lesser known, and posted codes that gave a quick synopsis of their impacts on the Civil Rights movement.
Jaqueline: My work is conveying the experiences I have had within my own community. The people I meet, the places I see and the deep roots I have laid within the lowrider community in particular. Being a part of this community has not only vastly impacted my art practice, but it has intertwined itself into my whole life. I own a lowrider, I paint murals for other lowrider owners on their cars, and I create mixed media pieces that are influenced by these experiences. By creating this body of work I am giving the viewer an insight into the lowrider world, into underrepresented communities and particularly into what it means to be a women within a mostly male dominated automotive world.
Sophia: Each year I select a theme and create a body of work. The themes that interested me in the past include The Armenian Genocide, history, ethnic dislocation, equal human rights revolutions, celebration of life.
Janae: My life experiences are very vast and filled with highs and lows.
Ivy: Most of my characters and art come from feeling X experience. The characters are kind of like different little alter egos in a way.
A lot of the characters that I paint have a very mischievous attitude & I’ll paint them rebelling/ making loud noise. A lot of those come from anger/frustration about certain social issue or just on capitalism. Sometimes I’ll have very Sad/Sensitive looking characters and those tie more in with pessimism, mental illness, and being very emotional. Other times I’ll paint my characters to be very Sweet and Goofy looking. Those tie more in with being present, tapping in with your inner child/not taking shit so serious. This’ll usually bring the viewer more of a nostalgic feeling.
So most of the time my artwork will convey emotion & will bring bring out a certain feeling and attitude to the viewer depending on the piece or character. The message would more depend on the setting of the piece or the characters intentions on what it’s doing.
My work focuses on empowerment and joy while commenting on social justice and political messages.
Question: Tell us about a social cause you care about.
Amy: I support many charities and different causes but the one I’d like to focus on is
The Unique Woman’s Coalition supports black trans community members within the Connie Norman Trans Empowerment Center in West Hollywood. They deserve our support and allyship.
Reena: I’m an advocate for the nuclear family. Children growing up with 2 parents that rise above societal pressures that result in so many broken homes.
MRSN: While many social issues need to be addressed, a few that affect me the most are racial injustice, reproductive rights, and mental health awareness.
Jacqueline: I care deeply about the impact art can make when it is pushed with community outreach at its center. Before I became a full time artist about a year ago I was actually working with children. I would create art lesson plans for them and regularly exposed them to contemporary artist that they could actually connect to. Although, I no longer teach children I hope to one day open a community art center off the boulevard. By making art more accessible to them I hope that I can give them not only a way to express themselves, but hopefully push them to be bold enough to follow their passions.
Sophia: Equal human rights worldwide. This crucial cause has to be taught to every new generation.
Janae: Sustainable agriculture and food security.
Ivy: Social causes that I hold close to me are decriminalizing immigration (esp as a 1st Gen), more light & focus on the arts in inner city neighborhoods/schools, bipoc & abortion rights, etc. the list can go on but one thing that my loved ones and I are currently experiencing/witnessing happen in areas we grew up in/our neighborhoods is gentrification. I care about supporting community/small businesses/housing rights, etc. and am anti Gentrification. Gentrification is modern day colonization and has affected a lot of my friends and loved ones in a negative way and have seen how it’s caused displacement, teared families apart, caused homelessness & deportation, etc. At least every other week we run into a new condo/big corporation being built over generational homes/small family businesses around LA. It’s all very frustrating. I’m trying to support as much as I can but I am also still learning! These are some of the causes that I hold dear to me
Question: What is your favorite art-related memory?
Amy: Painting with my son.
Reena: As an artist I aim to realize success in several mediums so my collaboration with RUN DMC was the most fulfilling. I was able to create an original canvas artwork based on an iconic photo that was licensed and featured on the album cover and apparel capsule.
MRSN: I think packing up a van and driving it from Los Angeles to Miami to show my work is probably one of the highlights of my career so far. On that trip I sold a piece to a retired basketball player whose games I used to go to in middle school. On that trip I got to really grow my community and the memories that stemmed from it will never leave me.
Jacqueline: My favorite art related memory was made in the midst of the pandemic. My father had been nagging me to teach him to paint. I never, ever had time before, but with the pandemic and being laid off I had zero excuse. I gave him a step by step tutorial on how to paint a bull. You see he grew up in Mexico, on a rural ranch named Berrendos. He immigrated to the US in his late teens and now as an adult he actually has been able to buy land and cattle back in his birthplace. Because of this he wanted to paint a bull that he loved. Seeing the pride he took in creating his painting really shifted my perspective. I had always thought that because he was an immigrant that he had a hard time appreciating my career choice. Although he still badgers me, I think we both learned a lot from that bonding experience. He gained an appreciation for the hard work that goes into painting. And I learned that my father could actually find joy in doing the exact same thing I wake up and do every single day. He still has that painting hanging in my parent’s den.
Sophia: My favorite art related memory is studying with filmmaker George Kuchar at San Francisco Art Institute. I learned how to be an artist from George Kuchar.
Janae: So many of these. All of my shows are my favorite because they bring opportunities for growth . when I lived in Miami I had a press pass for every museum. That was a highlight for me.
Ivy: Hmm I have so many cherish able memories from my high school painting days! but my Fav Art related memory was when my friends Jyra, Sus, and I went painting in Lincoln Heights after school and we somehow stumbled upon the abandoned jail (which is no longer accessible) and somehow got in & got to explore it, even though it was so dark and sketchy especially for us (three 5’2 little high schoolers LOL) and we were able to catch a lil spot on the roof and explore the jails history. After that we ran into some man living in an RV across the street from the old jail whom was a Lincoln heights OG and let me paint one of my little characters on his RV. He then gave some life advice, a modelo and $20 (my first mural Commission hehe) we bought fruita and took off so happy. that will forever be a core memory with the Homies i wish I can relive again. Simple times!
Question: Can you describe your dream project?
Amy: Painting with kids large scale with my friends and artists influences would be great.
Reena: My dream project is painting on the Moon and working with Elon Musk, Nicole Stott and Yusaku Maezawa.
MRSN: I love to work big. I think being able to do a large-scale piece as part of a performance would be an awesome experience. I love being able to share the process with people, and I don’t know of many better ways to do that than to create in front of them.
Jacqueline: My dream project is completing my lowrider build. I own a 1975 Cadillac El Dorado. Her name is “La Playgirl”. To me she is my “forever project”. My car has transformed so much since I first became its owner. And she still has a tremendous journey left ahead of her. In order to complete her I see my car going through possibly 4 different looks. My goal is to change her completely each and every time. Completely different paint jobs, different color ways, even different stained glass customizations. Doing it over and over again will give me the opportunity to really find out what I like and don’t want so when I create my car for its final time it will be everything I have ever dreamed of.
My car is already highly personalized. It’s hot pink, with a tangerine tint, a lowrider patterned roof and custom stained glass windows in the rear windows. She even has pipes attached on the sides that are extremely loud. She’s a very obnoxious car, but “La Playgirl” is also my muse. My car is a sculpture of sorts to me. I can completely customize and personalize it.
Sophia: My dream project is to design and build parks around the world. I have visions of creating spaces, working in creative harmony with architects and engineers.
Janae: I would love to own a museum with a vegan restaurant on the roof . and all the exhibitions will be multiracial artists and their stories .
Ivy: I haven’t really thought about that yet but a dream project I would like to do is maybe go around to different countries/states and do different murals for each area. I’ve always wanted to travel and make art at the same time so that would be pretty cool 🙂
A dream project I would like to do is maybe go around to different countries/states and do different murals for each area. I’ve always wanted to travel and make art at the same time.
Question: How can people contact you or support your work?
Amy: You can always email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out my website amysmith.art or Instagram @amysmithart
Reena: I’m launching my wearable art apparel line at the opening of this show. That along with my original canvas works and limited edition prints https://shop.reenatolentino.com
@reenatolentino. Please sign up for my email newsletter for updates on shows: https://mailchi.mp/729423ddcb33/sign-up-for-reena-tolentino
MRSN: Reaching out through email, my website, or Instagram are the best ways to reach out. I also have artwork and merch available through my online shop.
Jacqueline: People can contact me and support my work through my personal website www.jacquelinevalenzuela.com or through Instagram @pieldemazapan
Email or message me :
Ivy: If anyone would like to contact me you can contact through my email email@example.com , through my social media @lil40s on Instagram, or through my website lil40s.com
If anyone would like to support they can support by buying artwork/prints/hand-painted clothing through my page, showing up to events, or even just recommending me to anyone looking for a muralist or someone to paint artwork on their walls 🙂