‘Watching’ Response to Political Events through Art

Claudia Anaya

“The Whole World is Watching,” a group art exhibition curated by Irene Tsatsos, is a pre-election response to current political issues that opened on Sept. 20 in the art gallery.

Photographs, paintings, and a film, mostly from L.A. based artists, make up the exhibit, displaying various themes and metaphors to political events.

“There is so much dissent regardless of your political point of view,” said Tsatsos. “Most people are not supportive of who’s in the White House right now, regardless of whether you are a Republican, Democrat, or something else.”

She saw a lot of parallels to 1968. “In both decades the country was fighting a very unpopular war, a very controversial war, prior to an election. That guided me when I was thinking about this [exhibit].”

Peter Wu, one of the many artists whose work is displayed, described his painting “Untitled (After the End of the World as We Know It)” as “not necessarily political but put in this context, it absorbs this ‘political-ness’ and it gives it new insight to what it is. Things looks like explosions, things look more violent.”

John Fox, 27, 3D animation fine art major, liked Wu’s “Untitled (After the End of the World as We Know It),” because of the way Wu stroked the reds and blacks onto the canvas creating abstraction.

Tsatsos described “Dragged Lamp,” a piece by New York artist Olga Koumoudourous, as “distressed; it looks like it’s worked hard.”

“It’s on the floor but it is still lighting up,” said Chris Oatey, admiring the piece of the lamp hanging by shackles and tied by rope.

While some paintings evoke war and hope, other works take took at environmental and human topics.

Joyce Campbell’s “Lower Wright Glacier, Antarctica, Last Light,” shows a picture of glaciers in the Antarctica “which are threatened by global warming,” said Tsatsos.

Emilie Halpern’s “Poppy,” a 60-second film in which a poppy is being held for a period of two hours until it’s dead was described by Halpern: “when you watch the film it looks like the hand is really graphic, like it’s strangling the flower because it’s trembling a lot, like an aggressive human touch but at the end the hands is just as fragile.it’s also about time and what appears to be fragile and what appears to be threatening.”

Shizu Saldamando’s “Francisco’s Graduation,” in which three young men stand together with arms over each others shoulders as one seems to be ready to go on to war was among the favorite works of visitors.

“It’s very heartbreaking but it’s very real,” said Asher Hartman about Saldamando’s piece.

Tsatsos “had directed Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (L.A.C.E) and put on great shows,” said Roger Dickes, director of the exhibit, who had contacted Tsatsos to put on the exhibit.

Tsatsos put the word out to about “20 artists that I thought would have work that would in some way relate to this theme based on what I know they have done and they came back to me with the pieces they thought would fit,” said Tsatsos.

The art is not for sale but may be seen by the public in the gallery from noon to 6 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays through Nov. 8.