Progressive Cultures: A Story of Boyle Heights

IGM Art Gallery Artist, Mike Saijo's work, EVERGREEN, is represented in this exhibition
Cindi Dale, Erendina Delgadillo, Ximena Martin - LA Plaza Staff with JJ Moore, IGM AG Documentary team member
JJ Moore and La Plaza staff review two articles on Saijo's work in Ojai Quarterly Magazine
LA Plaza Staff and IGM Art Gallery Director, Lynn Crandall, review exhibition paperwork
JJ Moore, Sachiko Saijo, George Sanchez
Isabel Rojas-Williams - Mural Conservancy of Los Angeles with JJ Moore
Mike Saijo & USC PhD candidate, Carlos, studying with Vice Dean for Diversity and Stategic Initiatives,George Sanchez
Event guests with Gloria Molina and Zev Yaroslavsky in front of Mike Saijo's "Evergreen."
USC Diversity and Stategic Initiatives Vice Dean &Chicano history & immigration award-winning scholar, Sanchez with guests
Exhibition organizers, Cindi Dale and Sherry Marks
Glora Molina and Lynn Crandall with George Sanchez and Sachiko Saijo looking on
Clemente Gonzalez, Regional Director - West at Aetna with Lynn Crandall, Driector USC IGM Art Gallery
November 8, 2014 - 4:00pm - 6:00pm
LA Plaza Museum 501 N. Main Street, LA 90012

Progressive Cultures: A Story of Boyle Heights is an exploration of the multiethnic political groups in Boyle Heights from 1910 to the present. Through artifacts and artworks, this project celebrates Boyle Heights community members who have been instrumental in many important political movements including the struggle for equal housing rights, freedom from racial discrimination, and civil rights. This exhibition pays special tribute to a native son of Boyle Heights, District Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky and the social justice legacy he carries on in his work.

A noteworthy artwork in Progressive Cultures: A Story of Boyle Hts. is "Evergreen," by Artist, Mike Saijo, whose Soft Machine Project has developed into a series of exhibitions at the IGM Art Gallery.

Notions of “representation and history” have always captured Mike Saijo's imagination.  By forming constructions and site-specific installations—with the text of actual book pages juxtaposing imagery of historical incidents and events which have had significant local impact, Mike has been able to connect to and better understand the human condition -  the unique features of what it is to be human and to interact with that within himself and together with others.

His Soft Machine explorations, a series of exhibitions at the IGM Art Gallery and beyond, have grown into the Soft Machine Project. In this process, participants have learned how image and text undergo a process of reduction and abstraction, combining to articulate the point that “now” is as much “history” as history is now.  "Evergreen" is an artwork that references one of his parents' initial challenges- eating their meals with flatware rather than chopsticks.  He then cast this reference into the Boyle Hts. Community's Evergreen Cemetery where ancestors of the Japanese, Latino and Jewish citizens of Boyle Heights now lie together in peace as they lived together, before, during and after WWII.

Mike has joined with us in trying to understand the unalterable part of humanity that is inherent and innate to human beings and not dependent on factors such as gender, race, culture, or class. Through working with the three communities that make up the larger Boyle Hts. Community and working with the USC Institute for Genetic Medicine Art Gallery, Saijo has explored why one science is called ”hard" and another called “soft.”

Together IGM AG participants and their association with county wide organization such as ENCOUNTER, have learned about our own and the  concerns of others.  We've explored what is the meaning of life, the search for gratification, the sense of curiosity, the inevitability of isolation, and the awareness that death is ineluctable.  Participants in The Soft Machine Project have also experienced the joys of discovery, pressing into the unknown with like-minded companions and generally learning the ins and outs of social order and one’s responsibility to it, as well as the comforts that social order provides.  Mike stated:  "I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to work once again with IGM AG Director, Lynn Crandall, the IGM AG Advisory Council and especially on the current exhibition, Molecular and Social Systems: Learning Through Creative Exploration, with Lori Shocket, whom I met through the IGM Art Gallery."

Molecular and Social Systems’ themes aid us in exploring the impact of this art on
• Prevention and Healing of physical and social disease
• Environmental Stewardship
• Economic Self-Sufficiency and Social Justice
• Culture, Social Order, Community
• Education
• Inclusive, noncompetitive, transparent accountability

Molecular and Social Systems explores tensions between the urge for self-affirmation and the disruption caused by unintended consequences and loss of social patterns and control.  This tension is dealt with through interpretation of the Chart of the Elements  and unexpected or random pairings of diverse images in an orderly system that is flexible to accommodate change .  The individual involved in the pressures of the moment, cannot simultaneously envision the wholeness of past or future.  Art, stories, mathematical and scientific organizational structures have prevented and healed ignorance, fear, superstition and prejudice through the ages.  These disciplines have been survival tools for the human race. Individually, we suffer from loss and change, actions and urges confined within us and enacted upon us. Perception of self as being a mere part played in isolation in the universe can generate fear and regret that may erupt in depression and violence.  Viewing Molecular and Social Systems in the gallery experience allows viewers to feel part of the whole, sharing the beauty and the responsibility of mindful inter-dependence . Molecular and Social Systems inspires making the best of existing resources and employing empirical study to develop strategies for considering the mysteries of memory, time, social and natural order.  They inspire us to share with patience and perseverance modeled by Mother Nature.  Click here to meet the artists at opening reception for Molecular and Social Systems: Learning Through Creative Exploration.

The IGM Art Gallery Advisory Council invites you to engage with the art and other viewers to name and share perceptions. Consider the patterns and routines, what is cyclical, what linear, how you react to change. Be ready to work to create new ways to share ideas and resources with your neighbors and to forge innovative supportive links throughout our great community.