Art Opening: The Underground Museum's "Artists of Color"

by Sid Feddema

The late painter Noah Davis's legacy continues to unspool at The Underground Museum, a lovely space nestled in an unassuming strip of buildings in South L.A.'s Arlington Heights (a sign outside reads "Grafitti Artists! Don't spray our walls. Let us sell your work instead!"). The aim of the museum is to bring art out of the institutions and into the neighborhoods that need it most, and in the pursuit of its mission it has served as a nexus for some of the more radical and thought provoking exhibitions in recent memory. 

Installation view of a piece by Lita Albuquerque

Installation view of a piece by Lita Albuquerque

The latest, and the last of a series of shows scheduled and curated before Davis's death, is "Artists of Color", which (in Davis's impish way) is both an accurate and intentionally misleading title. Here, color is both simply itself – joyous, light, beautiful – as well as crackling with all the mixed meanings we as humans project onto it – the purple of a "swing state", meditations on race and apartheid and religion. Pure abstraction and aesthetics for aesthetics' sake à la Judd face off with a politically charged series of monochrome canvases in the colors of the Palestinian flag by González-Torres’, which were banned in the West Bank during Israel's occupation.

The contradictions are the point; through all these glancing blows of discordant meaning a richer realization of the power of color is achieved.

Diane Thater's "RGB Windows for MOCA Adapted for The Underground Museum". 2001-2017. Color PVC, Metal Brackets.

Diane Thater's "RGB Windows for MOCA Adapted for The Underground Museum". 2001-2017. Color PVC, Metal Brackets.

“Artists of Color” will be on display at the Underground Museum, 3508 W. Washington Blvd., starting June 3. No closing date has been set yet.


Text and photographs by Sid Feddema