811 W. 7th Street, Los Angeles, CA, 90017
Jun 13, 6 PM - 8 PM — ends Jul 06, 2019
LOS ANGELES, CA, June 5, 2019: “Do These Stripes Make Me Look Political?,”a retrospective solo exhibition by artist Ramona Otto, opens Thursday, June 13at the historic Romanesque Revival-style Los Angeles Fine Arts Buildingin downtown Los Angeles. There is an artist’s receptionfrom 6-8PM, as part of the Downtown L.A. Art Walkthat evening. There is also an artist’s walkthroughscheduled for Saturday, June 22, 2-4PM. The show,which runs through July 6, was curated by guest curator Nancy Larrew, and Lisa Ames, curator of the Fine Arts Building.

Based in Los Angeles,Otto is known for her assemblage artsculptures and pieces made from found objects including toys, tiles, vintage jewelry, charms, ceramic fragments, tin scraps, postage stamps, concert tickets, keys, and other trinkets and ephemera. The 20 pieces that comprise “Do These Stripes Make Me Look Political?” span1999 to 2019,and are displayed in the lobby’s elegant vitrines. Each incorporates the American flagin some way, considering its emblematic heft with wit, thoughtfulness, intellect, and wonder. And, of course, visually dazzling and meticulously executed assemblage.

In today’s often divisive cultural and political climate, red and blue are oppositional – be it states, news, people, and more. It’s a zeitgeist that complicates our relationship to the nation’s flag in ways that can be hard to put into words. First sewn by Betsy Ross in 1776, “Old Glory’s” design unifies the red and blue with the hopefulness and pride of white stripes and white stars. With “Do These Stripes Make Me Look Political?,” Otto remembers the days when things were simpler, and looks ahead to finding new meaning and common ground in how we perceive the flag.

In her artist statement she writes: “When I grew up on a farm in Iowa in the 1950s, the American flag was a powerful symbol. I remember the pride we all felt when leading the daily Pledge of Allegiance at Washington #4, the country school a mile from my house…Today, it is often difficult for people to listen to and understand one another. I am nostalgic for conversations that end with a smile and ‘Let’s agree to disagree. Now where shall we eat lunch?’”

Previous solo exhibitions include, most recently, 2017’s “Inside the Jewel Box,”also at the Fine Arts Building, and: “An American Love Story: The Art of Ramona Otto” at Craft Contemporary in Los Angeles; “Found In America”at the Craft In America Center in Los Angeles (the brick and mortar space of the PBS series “Craft In America”); and “Oh Say Can You See, The Flag Art of Ramona Otto” at Los Angeles City Hall. She was recently featured in the group show “Art with a (Re)Purpose at Castelli Art Space. Otto was also an elementary school teacher for gifted children in Los Angeles for more than 40 years. She encourages parents to bring children to the exhibition, which is family-friendly, and a compelling starting point for discussion about America as Flag Day and the Fourth of July approach.

The Fine Arts Building is an iconic 1927 structure that was designated a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument in 1974. The lobby is open to the public from 8AM-8PM, seven days a week (811 W. 7thStreet, Los Angeles, CA, 90017). It is just steps from the 7thStreet Metro Center at the end of the Expo Line.