Featuring the prints, paintings, and drawings of Amelia Amell and Jesus Chaidez, TWO by Two – Stories Beneath the Surface packs a powerful curatorial punch at The Manhattan Beach Art Center, now through April 14.
According to cultural arts manager Martin Betz, the show is unique both because of the artists’ individual work and paring, and the fact that they are both from other parts of the world, yet found themselves living in the greater Los Angeles area.
“It was interesting to put them together in one show,” said Betz.
“Jesus is from Culiacan, Mexico, and came here as an immigrant through typical channels, making a life for himself as an artist after attending the Art Institute of San Francisco. When he was in school he became very ill with a form of meningitis, and that affected his work, he paints these beautiful landscapes but there is a darker undercurrent to them; there is both beauty and more deeply somber aspects to his work."
Betz said the artist’s extensive knowledge of art history, and interest in mediums and methods such as clear opaque washes and Renaissance painting.
Chaidez’ near-death experience led him to lush, vibrant pastoral images, but beneath these are interconnected references to immigration and the drug trade, with the iconic Native American burial mound as a central feature.
In beautifully vivid works such as “Drug Tunnel,” the artist mixes vivid wildflowers and perfectly layered grasses with a mound; in this piece a dark hollowed area represents the tunnel.
Betz describes Amell’s work as providing “a different type of story. There is perhaps a more spiritual basis to her work; and she’s a successful art director and graphic designer as well, which leads to her techniques. They have very different stories, yet experienced many of the same struggles, and the differentness of their art when paired together is really wonderful.”
Amell currently resides in Manhattan Beach, and came to the beach cities from the island of Hispaniola.
She developed award-winning advertising campaigns, and holds an advanced degree in multimedia communication, as well as a second in spiritual psychology.
The artist mentors teens and also works to provide a better life for those incarcerated through The Freedom to Choose Project.
Her art combines all of those elements of her work and personal interest. It’s rooted in a quest for belonging, the artist says, and serves as merger of the divine and the more prosaic. Her work also stresses inclusion, diversity, and social impact.
Amell's digital art pays strong attention to both history and a collective vision for the future; her color palette is bold and dynamic, at times mixing the monochromatic with bright primary shades.
Curated by Singletree Arts, the exhibition presents two different styles of art and two different techniques for creating it. But both artists offer significant, impactful works that reveal their own personal histories and cultural symbolism.
The Manhattan Beach Arts Center is located at 1560 Manhattan Beach Blvd. in Manhattan Beach.