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Ramona Otto: “Do These Stripes Make Me Look Political – A Retrospective Solo Exhibition

RAMONA OTTO’S “DO THESE STRIPES MAKE ME LOOK POLITICAL,” A RETROSPECTIVE SOLO EXHIBITION,
IS ON VIEW IN THE LOBBY OF THE FINE ARTS BUILDING THROUGH JULY 6

WITH THESE ASSEMBLAGE ART PIECES, OTTO PONDERS AND PLAYS WITH THE ICONOGRAPHY OF THE “STARS AND STRIPES”

“Do These Stripes Make Me Look Political?,” a retrospective solo exhibition by artist Ramona Otto, is currently on view at the historic Romanesque Revival-style Los Angeles Fine Arts Building in downtown Los Angeles. It’s a timely show, as both Flag Day and Independence Day happen during its run. The exhibition, which goes through July 6, was curated by guest curator Nancy Larrew, and Lisa Ames, curator of the Fine Arts Building. The lobby, where the art is installed, is open 7 days a week, including will the July 4th holiday.

Based in Los Angeles, Otto is known for her assemblage art sculptures and pieces made from found objects including toys, tiles, vintage jewelry, charms, ceramic fragments, tin scraps, postage stamps, concert tickets, keys, and other trinkets and ephemera. The 20 pieces that comprise “Do These Stripes Make Me Look Political?” span 1999-2019, and are displayed in the lobby’s elegant vitrines. Each incorporates the American flag in some way, considering its emblematic heft with wit, thoughtfulness, intellect, and wonder.

In today’s often divisive cultural and political climate, red and blue are oppositional. It’s a zeitgeist that complicates our relationship to the nation’s flag in ways that can be hard to put into words. First sewn in 1776, “Old Glory’s” design unifies the red and blue with the hopefulness and pride of white stripes and white stars. With this show, Otto remembers the days when things were simpler, and looks ahead to finding new meaning and common ground in how we perceive the flag.

From her artist’s statement: “When I grew up on a farm in Iowa in the 1950s, the American flag was a powerful symbol. I remember the pride we all felt when leading the daily Pledge of Allegiance at Washington #4, the country school a mile from my house…Today, it is often difficult for people to listen to and understand one another. I am nostalgic for conversations that end with a smile and ‘Let’s agree to disagree. Now where shall we eat lunch?’”

Previous solo exhibitions include, most recently, 2017’s “Inside the Jewel Box,” also at the Fine Arts Building, and: “An American Love Story: The Art of Ramona Otto” at Craft Contemporary in Los Angeles; “Found In America” at the Craft In America Center in Los Angeles; and “Oh Say Can You See, The Flag Art of Ramona Otto” at Los Angeles City Hall. Earlier this year, she was featured in an eight-person group show “Art With a (Re)Purpose” at Castelli Art Space. Otto was also an elementary school teacher for gifted children in Los Angeles for more than 40 years. She encourages parents to bring children to the exhibition, which is family-friendly, and a compelling starting point for discussion about America as the Fourth of July approaches.

The Fine Arts Building is an iconic 1926 structure that was designated a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument in 1974. The lobby is open to the public from 8AM-8PM, seven days a week (811 W. 7th Street, Los Angeles, CA, 90017). It is just steps from the 7th Street Metro Center at the end of the Expo Line.

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