Whitehot Magazine

December 2010, The Date Farmers @ Ace Gallery

The Date Farmers, Don't Cry, 2010
Acrylic, ink, and paper on wood, 8" (H) x 9¼" (W) x 2" (D)
Courtesy of Ace Gallery


The Date Farmers
ACE GALLERY Institute Of Contemporary Art
The Wilshire Tower
5514 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles
CA 90036
December 13, 2010 through March 2011

The Date Farmers have been very busy lately, and not “farming dates,” but continuing with their excoriating commentaries on the nature of popular culture. Armando Lerma and Carlos Ramirez represent the collective power behind Date Farmers, and theirs is a complicated and multi- dimensional exploration that employs a variety of media including paintings, collages, sculptures, effigies, installations and videos infused with both commercial references and political content. Rooted in their Mexican-American heritage and in Californian pop culture generally, their work contains elements influenced by graffiti, street murals, traditional revolutionary posters, prison art, Oaxacan sign painting, and tattoo art. What sets this work apart from the standard neo-political fare is its implicit lyricism, each work almost like a visual poem to be experienced rather than witnessed.

The Date Farmers subvert language the way most Americans consume cheeseburgers; misspellings, crossed out words in both English and Spanish, etc. have become an essential and incontrovertible element in their visual vernacular; this is not a tame conversation steeped in euphemisms, but a powerful dialogue, an indictment of modern popular culture. Many of the works in this exhibition employ familiar childhood iconography to further convey the disjunction between the real world, which is often ugly, and the fantastical world put forth as an American ideal. In the work entitled Crimby, an acronym that stands for Carefully and Responsibly In My Backyard, we see Mickey Mouse giving us the finger, and a tattooed finger at that, all the while revealing secret snippets of graffiti under his yellow feet and along his stomach. Words like “crook” and “Eat Shit” appear as subtle tag-lines that the viewer must strain to decipher. There is also a Jewish star on the mouse’s ear, which is the most startling bit of iconography here. Traditionally, Mickey Mouse represents the American Dream, which is at its core quite sinister and arguably very Catholic. Ultimately, the giant mouse has come to symbolize rampant consumerism, and watered-down family values. After all, what would poor Mickey do if he knew how many little children are molested each year?

Other works in the show are more connected to the natural world and filled with images of animals including wolves, spiders, dogs and snakes. Works like Animales appear deceptively simple with the animals presented to us in almost child-like fashion. It’s as though they were gathering to deliver a near Orwellian prognosis on the state of the world. Still other images are more obviously violent. Works like Butterscotch show a man and woman brandishing knives, one stabbing at the heart, the other the head, the symbolic icons of our humanity. Neither one will win the battle, and Lerma and Ramirez seem to imply here that the war between people has its roots once again in consumerism, i.e. the images are painted onto a an old metal sign selling candy. There is always a product to be sold, information to be disseminated against someone’s will, an inevitable betrayal that leaves us flailing inside our own skins.

The Date Farmers, 44 Skull, 2010
Acrylic & mixed media on panel, 37½" (H) x 37½" (W) x 3½" (D)
Courtesy of Ace Gallery

The Date Farmers, Crimey, 2010
Acrylic on canvas, 37½" (H) x 37½" (W) x 3½" (D)
Courtesy of Ace Gallery

The Date Farmers, I Love You, 2010
Mixed media on panel, 50" (H) x 49¾" (W) x 3½" (D)
Courtesy of Ace Gallery

Eve Wood

Eve Wood is both a critic and an artist. She was represented for five years by Western Project and before that at Susanne Vielmetter; Los Angeles Projects. She has exhibited her work at numerous galleries including Angles Gallery, The Huntington Beach Museum of Art, The Weatherspoon Museum of Art etc. Her art criticism has appeared in many magazines including Flash Art, Artnet.com, Tema Celeste, NY Arts, Angelino Magazine, Art Papers, Bridge, ArtUS, Art Papers, Artweek, Latin Arts.com, Art Review and Artillery. She is also the author of five books of poetry and one novel.

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