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CURRENT EXHIBITIONS

The Conductor 
Artist: Chukes
September 9, 2018- February 17, 2019
Noah Purifoy Gallery
Charles Mingus Gallery

Have you ever wondered what music looks like?


    This body of work is based on the deep love and appreciation music plays in my life. You can learn a great deal about a person from the music they listen too! There are times while creating art I consider myself a Musician rather than an Artist. I become so engulfed in whatever genre of music I am listening to that I feel as though I am playing in a band with some of the funkiest musicians in the world.  My sculptures and paintings become musical notes filled with the rhythms of the earth, and my body is the instrument that conducts the orchestra.

Take a close look at the art in this space and imagine each piece playing an instrument, then imagine what you would hear if you were to see them performing. What you are experiencing in this exhibit is my interpretation of my environment, and the vibrant colors of my work reflect the improvisational freedom transformed through music into a sculptural and painted forms. Music takes me on a journey. I’m am million miles away and I’m not sure if I have ever come back.

The great Musicians have the ability to get the most out of their instruments and that’s what inspires me to think outside the box. If I am listening to jazz, I can pull from my exaggeration techniques much the way jazz musicians can improvise on their instruments. The more I create the further out there I get. My sculptures allow me to take my viewers with me on my creative journeys. When listening to music such as Chick Corea’s Return to Forever, Miles Davis, Airto Moreira, Weather Report, Coleman Hawkins, Nina Simone, Herbie Hancock, James Brown, Bootsy Collins, Frank Zappa, Jimi Hendrix, Beethoven, Mozart, and oh yes, George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic. This is the music that helps free my mind.

I have always been captivated by the funk of George Clinton and the B-side of his albums, the music that was never played on the radio. Cuts like Cosmic Slop, Promentalshitbackwashpsychosis Enema Squab (The Doo Doo Chasers) and Supergroovalisticprosifunkstication - just to name a few. That is some way-out shit, and I want to go there with them. I consider my sculptures and paintings the B-side of my cosmic and artistic expressions.  

Music tells the story of our history, it heightens our creative sensibilities, it sooths and nourishes our soul, it speaks to us in any language, like art. It will forever live in my art, I could not imagine life without it!

 I was born in Vallejo, California. Our family moved to San Jose, California when I was a year old and that is where I began my artistic journey. I am now living and creating in Altadena, California.

I have been working professionally as an artist for more than thirty years. I graduated from The California College of Arts and Crafts as a dual major with a BFA in Sculpture and Ceramics. I received my MFA in Sculpture from Claremont Graduate University. 

My connection towards art started around the age of five as result of watching my mother sew clothes for my brothers and me. My mother would sketch out the clothes on paper and within a few days we were wearing them. Without know it, this was also my first introduction to sculpture because the clothes my mother would draw started out on paper and I would watch her skillfully craft the material together as if she was creating a sculpture. I thought there was something magical in this process so I asked my mother for a pencil and some paper and I began to create images as my imagination ran wild.

I didn’t find clay, clay found me. This was the material I was searching for but it wasn’t until I reached high school and my art teacher Mr. Mike Shannon noticed that I had a natural feel for clay as a sculptor and he began entering my work in local high school art contest where I received many awards. I credit Mr. Shannon for helping me develop my creative voice as a beginning artist. Since then I have gone from having my first art showing in my parents’ backyard to exhibiting my works in some of the most prominent galleries and museums worldwide.

I am currently represented by Hearne Fine Art Gallery in Little Rock Arkansas and Joyce Gordon Gallery in Oakland California, I have with strong ties with The Creative House studio in Inglewood California. My works are included in many private collections including; The White House under former Deputy District Attorney James Thomas, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, The African American Museum & Library (Oakland, CA), Mosaic Templars Cultural Center (Little Rock, AR), Claremont Graduate University (Claremont, CA), Philander Smith College (Little Rock, AR), San Jose City College (San Jose, CA) California State University, Fresno (Fresno CA),Walt Disney Heritage Gallery at Epcot, (Orlando Florida) The Mus’ee Boribana Museum (Senegal, South Africa), Dr. Archie and Garbo Hearne,  Advertising Mogul Carol H. Williams, Collectors and Philanthropists Bernard and Shirley Kinsey and Musician George Clinton.

My artistic works have been featured in numerous books, television, independent films, media publications. Some of the highlights include KTLA’s Good Day L.A., the film, “Let Clay Be Clay” by film maker Darryl McCane, and publication credits; 36 L.A. Artist: Photographs by Leopoldo Pena, Valentine New York Magazine, Collaborations two decades of African American Art, Hearne Fine Art Gallery, Ebony magazine, Essence magazine, and ‘O’ The Oprah Winfrey Magazine. I have lectured and facilitated workshops in museums, art galleries, colleges and schools throughout the country.

I have received countless awards in the field of art, but my greatest reward comes from sharing my lifelong creative visions to all viewers.

ART IS MY LEGACY!!!

Dr. Joseph  & Bootsie Howard Gallery

The Howard Instrument Collection of the Watts Towers Arts Center is a permanent, revolving installation of musical instruments from around the world. It was assembled by Dr. Joseph H. Howard and donated to the Center in 1989. The collection at the Watts Towers Arts Center, about a quarter of Howard's total collection, consists of 144 instruments, the majority of which are non- western. 

Dr. Joseph  & Bootsie Howard Gallery
Perminant Collection

Spirit of the Ancestors

This moving, seminal, visual arts project was conceptualized 

and developed by the Arts Center Director, Rosie Lee Hooks

who commissioned 13 artists from the community to use shovels as a canvas t0 h0nor the legacy of our ancestors. Each of the world renowned, master artists who accepted the challenge have a history with building arts institutions in Watts and the greater Los Angeles community.

 

Spirit of the Ancestors was designed for and unveiled at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Charles Mingus Youth Arts Center, February 6, 2003. The collection of 13 shovels may be loaned to prospective sponsors who contribute funds for the program development at the Watts Towers Arts Center and Charles Mingus Youth Arts Center.

Spirit Of The Ancestors
Perminant collection
Charles Mingus Gallery
Garden Studio Gallery 

Garden Studio Gallery 

In the Spring of 2009, our community garden was started in our unfinished parking lot. Students ages 6 to 12 came once a week to plant herbs, spices, vegetables, and flowers and design weather vanes, paint, tile flower beds, plant containers, build bird houses and create sculptures for theGarden Studio. The Students, under the tutealage of Rogelio Acevedo and Alejandro Campos, had the satisfaction of watching the seeds become flowers and the small plants flourish and bear fruit, which they were able to harveest. The Garden Studio Program with students from LA's Best expanded to tiling decorative outdoor walls for Watts Community homes. 

Simon Rodia's "Nuestro Pueblo"

Sabato Rodia was born in Serino, Italy (AV) in 1879 and arrived in the United States around 1894. He came to Watts in 1921 at age 42 and was commonly known as "Sam". The Watts Towers of Simon Rodia, his masterpiece and the world’s largest single construction created by one individual, was his obsession for 33 years. He called it “Nuestro Pueblo” or “Our Town”. It is located in the community of Watts in South Central Los Angeles, California.

 

The Watts Towers structure, consisting of seventeen major sculptures was created by Italian immigrant Sabato “Simon” Rodia out of steel covered with mortar and embellished by the decorative finishings of mosaic tiles, glass, clay, shells and rock. There is no welded inner armature. Rodia wired rebars together then wrapped this joint with wire mesh and hand packed it with mortar and his mosaic surface.

 

In 1959, the International Conference of Museum Curators resolved that “Rodia’s Towers are a unique combination of sculpture and architecture and the paramount work of folk art of the 20th century in the United States.” The Towers are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, are a National Historic Landmark, a State of California Historic Monument, a State of California Historic Park and, in March 1965, the Watts Towers were officially designated as Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Monument Number 15. At the time the Towers were owned by the Committee for Simon Rodia’s Towers in Watts: William Cartwright, Nicholas King, Edward Farrell, Bud Goldstone, Herbert Khan, Jack Levine, Jeanne Morgan and Seymour Rosen. The Towers were deeded to the City of Los Angeles Municipal Arts Department in 1975.

 

Public guided tours of the Watts Towers are conducted Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Sunday from 12:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. There are no tours Monday through Wednesday, national holidays or rainy days.