The Ben Maltz Gallery will present new work by artists in the Southern California region with the three-person exhibition Bridging Homeboy Industries: Fabian Debora, Alex Kizu, and Juan Carlos Munoz Hernandez, on view from Wednesday, Jan. 2 through Saturday, March 23 at Otis College of Art and Design in Westchester.
The scheduled guest curator of the exhibit is Annie Buckley. A reception is scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 26 from 4 to 6 p.m., with live music by Incendio. The artists’shared roots are in the East Los Angeles neighborhoods of Boyle Heights, a close-knit community beset by poverty and violence. Though their paths and practices are unique, each has benefited from the services of Homeboy Industries, the largest gang intervention program in the nation, said Otis representative Kathy MacPherson.
Founded as a jobs program by Father Gregory Boyle in 1992, Homeboy Industries continues to thrive as a network of successful businesses supported and run by former gang members. Two decades on, Debora, Kizu and Munoz Hernandez all count Father Boyle, or G, as he is fondly referred to by many, as a mentor, supporter and friend. He is the person who saw in them the artists they could become and who fostered a sense of hope and possibility within them during times when these were scarce. This encouragement, combined with their own relentless passion for art, fed their development as artists, said MacPherson.
“During what G (Father Greg Boyle) calls the ‘decade of death’, I got into a lot of trouble, but Father Greg, no matter what I did, was always encouraging me to do my art…I felt hopeless, but G would hire us to do murals and artwork, and now I realized that those acts of faith helped me to overcome many of the obstacles that I faced as a youth.” — Alex Kizu.
Debora, who is now a staff member at Homeboy Industries, makes compellingly honest paintings influenced by Chicano and contemporary representational art. Kizu’s color-infused canvases feature variations on the highly complex and ornate graffiti lettering he learned as a boy from local street artists and knowledge gained as a recent graduate of the Art Department of California State University, Northridge.
Munoz Hernandez’s bronze sculptures and spray paint and marker paintings fuse graffiti with diagrammatic architectural drawings and grow out of an 18-year apprenticeship with the late sculptor Robert Graham and a background in street art. The exhibition includes several works by each artist and a new, large-scale collaborative mural, MacPherson said.
Otis College of Art and Design is at 9045 Lincoln Boulevard, Los Angeles, 90045, (310) 665-6905, www.otis.edu/benmaltzgallery/.