The Floating World
October 6 through November 3, 2007
The Complex Power and Compelling Presence of Linda Vallejo’s Art by Betty Ann Brown, Ph.D.
In sumptuous landscape paintings, spirit-infused installations, and troubling yet humorous assemblage sculptures, Linda Vallejo’s artworks interrogate our ambivalent interactions with the planet. On one hand, we love Mother Earth and revel in her beauty. Vallejo articulates this love in luscious landscapes that seem to breathe with a vital force. Her hills and trees pulsate in undulating zones of electric color. The expressive intensity of her color recalls the work of Vincent Van Gogh. The richness of the sensual abstraction with which Vallejo addresses natural forms recalls Georgia O’Keeffe’s New Mexico oeuvre.
Some of us—particularly the indigenous peoples of this continent—see the terrain as divine. Longtime practitioner of Native American rituals, Vallejo composes complex installations that give physical form to her “Prayers for the Earth.” The installations employ natural materials from shells to sand to stone in order to create mandala-like altars that are often flanked by her paintings as well as her series of sculptures built up on tree limb armatures. In their conjunction of spirituality, natural materials and bodily experience, Vallejo’s installations recall some of Ana Mendieta’s performative works.
However, there is a down side to our relationship with the planet: many cultural practices pollute the environment. Vallejo laments these abuses in Post-modern assemblages that combine computer-generated imagery with Styrofoam and other cultural detritus. Even as Vallejo creates beauty from such debased materials, she asks us to lament the trash we produce so copiously. Both formally and conceptually, Vallejo’s assemblages recall the monumental industrially based sculptures of Lee Bontecou. They are similarly attractive and unsettling. Linda Vallejo’s work ranges over diverse media but remains united in impact. She gives physical form to the words of Chief Seattle: “All things are connected, like the blood which connects one family. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the children of the earth.”
What makes Linda Vallejo’s art so compelling and relevant to contemporary life? by William Moreno, Executive Director, The Claremont Museum of Art
“For one, her broad command of a variety of mediums: painting, sculpture and site-specific installations are all within her prolific oeuvre. There is nearly something for everyone. Ms. Vallejo’s interests and subject-matter spans are considerable. Themes of beauty, consumption, war, excess, world pollution, iconic references to international indigenous peoples and earth-based installations all reside in her works. Ms. Vallejo, a resident of Topanga Canyon, California, has a natural affinity and bond with the natural world and that connection is reflected in her ethereal works. Her paintings of surreal, electrified and transformed landscapes suggest a more vibrant and alluring reality. Color and energy swirl throughout the canvasses and transport you into her alternative world. Her work is not held hostage by fashion or trend – rather she is a singular voice with apparitions all her own. Such visualizations and the tactile nature of the work resonate in a contemporary and abstracted world – we crave the “here, now and hope” of a less complicated life. No commitments are implied in her work, but rather veiled assurances and alternatives. Such well-composed and thoughtful gestures seem hard to come by in our image and information-saturated lives. Ms. Vallejo’s posture is one of deep concern and commitment. One can’t ask for more than that.”