Debra Scacco in Pasadena Now 9.11.18

“La Reina” Exhibition Debuts at Descanso on Sunday


Published : Tuesday, September 11, 2018 | 4:48 PM

Without the Los Angeles River, there would quite simply be no Los Angeles. La Reina de Los Ángeles, a new exhibit opening at Descanso Gardens’ Sturt Haaga Gallery on Sept. 17, will present a discussion of our current relationship with water, using the Los Angeles River as an entry point. Through contemporary art works, documentary films, historic materials and special programming, La Reina de Los Ángeles will explore the history, infrastructure and community around this critical resource. The show is curated by artist and program director, Debra Scacco, and runs from September 17, 2018 – January 13, 2019.

The life of the Los Angeles River has been wild and unpredictable. While the precise geography is unknown, historians have estimated it’s changed course at least nine times in the first half of the nineteenth century alone. Today, less than 150 years into the life of our young city, a complex infrastructure delivers water not just to our citizens, but to crops, farms and manicured lawns.

“It is a true privilege to work with every artist in this exhibition,” said Scacco. “They each present a thoughtful, insightful and critical voice on this vital issue that we, as individuals, must address collectively and globally. I’m excited about the dialogue that will occur between the works when they coexist in the gallery space and on garden grounds.”

La Reina de Los Ángeles looks at the current relationship Los Angeles has with its water source. We have literally cemented the natural flow, creating systems of lines below and above ground to excavate, pump and carry water to millions. Yet in California alone, it has been estimated that nearly one million citizens are still without access to safe, affordable drinking water. As we face continued environmental instability as evidenced through recent historic drought and devastating wildfires, we must acknowledge that this vital resource is not endless.

For this exhibition, Scacco has gathered some of L.A.’s most important artists to provide commentary on this essential dialogue through their work. Exhibition participants include: Judy Baca, Andrew Bird, Lauren Bon and the Metabolic Studio, Tom Carroll (Tom Explores Los Angeles), Carolina Caycedo, Mercedes Dorame, Nicholas Hummingbird, Galia Linn, Blue McRight, Diego Palacios, Michael Parker, Emma Robbins, Kerry Tribe and Devon Tsuno.

As part of the exhibition there will be artworks throughout the Gardens. Parker’s “Endless Column,” a large-scale outdoor sculpture exploring the movement and storage of water is currently in the Center Circle. Organic earthen-forms created by Linn will be on view in the Camellia Forest. Musician Bird’s Echolocations will be featured on the gallery’s living roof. It will also include original sections of the Zanja Madre (Mother Ditch), the original aqueduct that brought water from the Los Angeles River to El Pueblo de Los Angeles from approximately 1781 to 1904. The piece, dated circa 1877, is on loan from Lauren Bon and the Metabolic Studio.

“I am excited to address this topic in the context of Descanso Gardens,” continued Scacco. “Not only are the grounds and gallery exquisite, but Descanso as a site could not exist without a complex water infrastructure. The opportunity to discuss water in the framework of a public garden elevates the conversation and highlights our urgent need for a deeper understanding of the topic. The work in this exhibition is extremely powerful; and will generate a conversation I am grateful to have with a broad audience.”

“I’m thrilled to be working on La Reina with Debra Scacco,” added Cris Martinez, manager of the Sturt Haaga Gallery. “She has created a very robust exhibition that will appeal to people with interests that vary from contemporary art and history to interactive opportunities.”

In addition to the works being displayed at Descanso’s Sturt Haaga Gallery, La Reina also includes outdoor movie screenings and lectures, including:

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