LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes presented a large-scale neon mural installation exhibition by multimedia artist Patrick Martinez. Activating LA Plaza’s Vickrey-Brunswig and Plaza House building windows with social-political messages, his new installation Only Light Can Do That, 2021 is comprised of over twenty-five bilingual neon signs that address the plight and resilience of essential workers in Los Angeles.
This new installation is part of Art Rise 2021, a city-wide arts initiative sponsored by Cause Communications in partnership with Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health.
LA Plaza is one of 21 art experiences commissioned in collaboration with museums, cultural institutions, and artists, to create new artworks to address themes of mental well-being, connection, and healing across Los Angeles County due to the societal injustice of the pandemic. Organized to produce a series of outdoor art installations to be experienced physically and safely while social distancing, Art Rise 2021 aims to make visible the power of art by tapping into the creativity of artists and spark community conversations.
The title of the installation references and riffs off of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s beloved “Loving Your Enemies” sermon given in 1957 at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. With this new installation Martinez’ goals to inspire connection between the urban minority experience, increase awareness about the communities most impacted by the pandemic, promote dialogue related to issues of immigration and equality, and give recognition to the behind-the-scenes heroes who champion representation and healing for all.
LA Plaza in collaboration with AltaMed Health Services, a leading community-based health care provider for Latino, multi-ethnic and underserved communities in Southern California, connected artist Patrick Martinez with key behavioral health specialists to source important mental health information from the communities most affected by the pandemic, and to promote mass dialogue and awareness, presenting their collective voices through symbolic rhythms of words, color, and light.
Patrick Martinez maintains a diverse practice that includes mixed media landscape paintings, neon sign pieces, cake paintings, and his Pee Chee series of appropriative works. His neon works are fabricated to mirror street level commercial signage but are remixed to present words and phrases drawn from literary and oratorical sources. Influenced by hip-hop culture and raised in Los Angeles, Martinez holds his BFA with honors from Art Center College of Design, has exhibited internationally, and his work resides in many notable museum collections throughout the United States. Patrick Martinez is represented by Charlie James Gallery, Los Angeles.
This exhibition is curated by LA Plaza Curatorial Team: Karen Crews Hendon, Senior Curator, Esperanza Sanchez, Associate Curator, Carolyn Lopez, Assistant Curator and Registrar, and Alondra Virrey, Visitor Engagement Coordinator, in partnership with WE RISE 2021.