On March 19, 2020, following the emergence and rapid spread of the COVID-19 virus, California became the first U.S. state to issue a state-wide safer-at-home order. Subsequently, the County of Los Angeles lockdown shuttered cultural venues and museums. One year later, the closure ordinances remain in place, arts organizations are still closed to the public, and many are in peril of never opening again.
Despite the closures and challenges that have come with this global pandemic, many artists and arts organizations have continued to work, create, and fight for a better future. Artists William Camargo and Dan McCleary for a conversation moderated by the Armory’s Heber Rodriguez as we look back at the events of the last year, discuss their impact on the arts in Los Angeles, and consider their lasting effects on cultural production moving forward.
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About the Panelists
William Camargo is an arts educator, visual artist, and arts advocate born and raised in Anaheim, California. He holds an M.F.A at Claremont Graduate University and his BFA at the California State University, Fullerton. His work is in response to found archives of a city through a historical art praxis that manifests as series-based artworks and strategies that address geographic place. His work creates counter-narratives that center communities of color. He is the current artist in residence at The Latinx Project at NYU and has lectured about his work nationwide in different institutions and universities.
Dan McCleary (born 1952) is an American artist and founder and executive director of Art Division, a nonprofit organization offering professional arts training and academic and career support to young adults aged 18 to 26 in the under-served MacArthur Park community in Los Angeles. In 2014, the now 10,000-volume Art Division Library opened for students, artists, and the community at large. Located on W. 6th Street, Art Division also includes paint, media, and printmaking studios as well as a newly opened art gallery.
As an artist, McCleary has been featured in more than 50 solo and group exhibitions throughout the U.S. and Europe. The subject of McCleary's paintings, drawings and prints is individuals, often alone and rendered life-size, engaged in daily activities at home, the office, a hair salon or restaurant. Los Angeles Times art critic Christopher Knight has called McCleary “among the finest figurative painters working today.”