CCA Wattis, San Francisco

Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts / 360 Kansas Street
CA 94103-5130 San Francisco

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press release

San Francisco, Calif., June 29, 2007 Mario Ybarra Jr. is the summer 2007 Capp Street Project artist in residence at the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts. Organized by Wattis Institute director Jens Hoffmann, this will be Ybarra’s first solo project for a San Francisco public art institution. Ybarra will create a large-scale mural that examines the history, anecdotes, and mythology that surround mural making in the Bay Area. His mural will be on long-term view starting September 5, 2007, on the staircase outside the entrance to the Logan Galleries on the San Francisco campus of California College of the Arts. The exhibition is free and open to the public.

To conceive his mural, Ybarra is taking an almost anthropological approach toward the local neighborhood, the greater Bay Area, and his own identity as a Mexican American artist making a mural today. He is investigating an exhaustive amount of material from a disparate array of sources, including the iconography and language of urban murals, the defining characteristics of Bay Area street culture (whether Mexican American or African American), and the complex socioeconomic situations in the neighborhoods adjacent to the Wattis Institute (Hunters Point, Potrero Hill, the Mission, and the South of Market district).

Ybarra is part of a generation of Mexican American artists who, in contrast to many of their forebears, do not reject their American identities but embrace both of their backgrounds equally and mutate them for critical effect. Ybarra is based in Los Angeles, where he grew up, and a large part of his prolific artistic practice has grown out of issues related to his upbringing in the Mexican American community of Wilmington. He consistently explores the culture and political heritage of America’s West Coast to produce, as he says, contemporary art that is filtered through a Mexican American experience. “Mario Ybarra draws attention to forms of culture on the fringes of the mainstream, revealing hidden histories. His artistic practice offers a fresh perspective on the fusion of cultures and aesthetics, reenergizing everything from the grass-roots workshop to the artist-run gallery,” says Hoffmann.

Lead sponsorship for Capp Street Project: Mario Ybarra Jr. is provided by the Nimoy Foundation.

Founding support for CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts programs has been provided by Phyllis C. Wattis and Judy and Bill Timken. Generous support provided by the Phyllis C. Wattis Foundation, Grants for the Arts / San Francisco Hotel Tax Fund, Ann Hatch and Paul Discoe, and the CCA Curator's Forum.

About the Artist Mario Ybarra Jr. was born in Los Angeles in 1973 and continues to live and work in that city. In 1999 he earned his bachelor’s degree from Otis College of Art and Design, Los Angeles, and in 2001 he received an MFA from the University of California, Irvine. His work has been presented in solo and group exhibitions at Tate Modern, London (upcoming 2007); Prague Biennial 3 (upcoming 2007); the Manchester Art Gallery, England (2007); the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London (2006); Serpentine Gallery, London (2006); California Biennial, Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach, California (2006); Tijuana Biennial, Centro Cultural Tijuana, Mexico (2006); the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (2006); Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago (2006); and Astrup Fearnley Museet for Moderne Kunst, Oslo (2005).

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Capp Street Project: Mario Ybarra Jr.