The city of Glendale is not typically known for its art scene; in fact, there really is no art scene in Glendale. Local connoisseurs of art from all walks of life flock to the neighboring cities of Silverlake and Pasadena, among others, in order to nourish their appetite for new, modern and splashy art.
But, in an effort to establish an art scene here in Glendale, three GCC students: Gary Freeman, Greg Griffin, and Arlene Vidor, have formed the Tropico Artists Collective (TAC).
The T.A.C. is a group of serious, local artists who look to strengthen and increase communication amongst each other and their peers. Their main goal as a group is to not only establish an art scene in Glendale, but also to challenge the status quo and mainstream art.
The beginnings of the group date back to last fall when Freeman and Griffin produced an off-campus exhibition for GCC students. The exhibit was held at a gallery in Pasadena. Vidor, who attended the exhibition, realized that there was a need for exhibition space in Glendale for serious artists.
“We wanted to have the opportunity for regular discussion and critique of our work among peers outside of the academic setting,” said Vidor.
The collective is composed of local, emerging and established artists alike who produce works in the areas of visual and literary arts. Among them is Elena Del Rio, owner of Koplin Del Rio Gallery in West Hollywood. Although Del Rio herself is not a visual artist, she was drawn to the group’s diverse interests in the arts.
“Part of my interest to the group was hearing that there was this core of serious professional artists that were in Glendale,” said Del Rio. “Artists that were beyond the hotel art or the commercial art scene and had interest in social commentary,
political commentary and serious fine art.”
Del Rio played a key role in helping put together the groups first exhibition, titled “Tropico REDUX,” which is currently being held at the Brand Library and is being sponsored by The Associates of Brand Library, a non-profit group that supports the Brand Library and Art Center Events.
As a professional, Del Rio was a great deal of help when it came down to the layout of the exhibition, which according to Griffin, is really important as to why all the chosen pieces work well together.
This first exhibition features art pieces by nine of the 10 members of the group. The instillation of work includes photography, courtesy of Freeman, Griffin, and Vidor, as well as paintings, drawings, sculptures, and mixed media works.
Choosing which works would be showcased in the exhibition was a task all on its own. Leading up to the show, the group would meet every week for about two months in order to prepare for the upcoming, inaugural exhibition.
“We would meet and talk about things like how much we all hate Bush and whether he is a sociopath or only appears to be a sociopath, and then we would look at the artwork and decide on which pieces would be in or out of the show,” said Griffin.
For being their first exhibition as a newly formed group, the collective have gotten a positive, overwhelming response by the various attendants that pass through the exhibition.
“I think it has been going really well. We had a wonderful turnout at the opening reception and people have responded very positively to it,” said Vidor. “They like the work because they feel it’s really diverse and interesting. I haven’t heard anything negative.”
Vidor worked very closely with the Brand Library in order to secure the exhibition space. Down time in September made it possible for the collective to reserve the library gallery in order to showcase their first exhibition.
The group already has a show scheduled for February 2006 at the Nickelodeon Studios in Burbank. By this time, group hopes to have recruited more members and to have created some sort of following here in Glendale.
“There is no reason that Glendale shouldn’t be showing art,” said Freeman. “That is one of the reasons why we chose the name Tropico, even though it is a mythical place, it is here.”
There are historic ties to the name Tropico. In the early 1900s the remarkable town of Tropico comprised a large portion of Glendale. During the existence of this city, an artist by the name of Edward Weston set up a studio in Tropico. After his departure from Glendale, he became world famous with photography which depicted nudes, landscapes and the natural form.
The name is not only an homage to the city itself, but also to the memory of one of its first residents.
The group dreams of having a permanent space locally in order to host art exhibitions and salons.
“I would like to see a more viable art movement in Glendale and a more noted artist colony,” said Freeman.
The “Tropico REDUX” exhibition runs through Oct. 7, at the Brand Library. Gallery hours are Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m., Wednesday from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m., and Fridays and Saturdays from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.