Cerritos College Art Gallery SUR:Biennial 2023

SUR:Biennial > 2023 > Cerritos 

Cerritos College Art Gallery
11110 Alondra Blvd
Norwalk, California 90650

Painted Coffee sleeves
Gronk, Untitled (Coffee Sleeves), 2008, Mixed Media, 45.5 x 65.5 inches, Collection of Ralph Berge.

Stock Footage And Outtakes: A Selection of Work by Gronk

Curated by James Macdevitt (with Curatorial Assistance from Getty Marrow Intern Brian Lombera)

August 28 - October 6, 2023
Opening: August 28, 2023 at 6pm
Closing: September 30, 2023 at 6pm
Featuring the debut of a new 32-ft long public art commission, a live performance of Tormenta 1985, and more.

The Cerritos College Art Gallery is thrilled to debut a solo exhibition of work by the legendary Los Angeles artist Gronk (presented as part of the epic 7th SUR:biennial, taking place during the Fall of 2023 at sixteen venues throughout Southern California). 
Bringing together a wide array of both recent and archival objects, Stock Footage and Outtakes: A Selection of Works by Gronk offers a rare insight into the broad range of the elusive artist’s ever-evolving practice. Much like the recycled film elements (stock footage) and alternative cuts (outtakes) referenced in the exhibition title, the disparate works on display collectively highlight the productive routines and thematic recurrences that assemble to form Gronk’s distinctive creative process. While the exhibition is largely focused on exploring his artistic output as illustrator and painter, Gronk’s well-known investment in the cinematic and the performative still manage to percolate to the surface; recognizable in the storyboard-like explorations of his daily drawings, in the tongue-in-cheek pastiche of ASCO’s famed No Movie Award, in the miniature maquette of his set design for Peter Sellars’ dramatic opera, Ainadamar, and, especially, in the massive papier-mâché sculpture inspired by his ongoing obsession with 1950’s monster movies like The Giant Claw. Tormenta makes an appearance as well, of course - multiple appearances, in fact – casting shadow finger puppets in three large paintings and standing stoically in six colorful new panels. However, while she may have top billing (diva that she is), she’s far from the only cast member listed on the call sheet. There’s also a ten-foot tall red mayan dog, a giant cardboard tank inscribed with roaring dinosaurs, a floating head wearing actual cookies as earrings, and a bevy of wide-eyed faces glaring out from a collage of painted coffee cup sleeves!
In conjunction with the show, Gronk will also be transforming the Cerritos College Art Gallery’s Projects Space into his temporary studio (daily, August 29 through September 8, from 11am to 4pm) while he works on a new 32-foot long multi-panel painting commissioned by the Cerritos College Committee on Art in Public Spaces for the Fine Arts Building's west hallway. Students and visitors alike can observe, and chat with, the artist as he works and even join him for his daily coffee-fueled drawing sessions (note: free coffee will be provided). A curated selection of the artist’s favorite movies will also be screened in the Projects Space throughout the run of the exhibition, offering further insight into his many aesthetic and thematic influences.
The new public art commission will officially debut in its permanent location during the closing reception, which will also feature a series of related programming, including the live performance of Tormenta 1985, a newly-conceived project, based loosely on Gronk’s life, written and directed by Cerritos College Spanish Professor, Froylán Cabuto.

Watercolor drawing
Gronk, Untitled (Eggs), 2023, Ink and Watercolor on Paper, 9.5 x 7.5 inches, Courtesy of the Artist. 


Born and raised in East Los Angeles, Glugio Nicandro (better known as Gronk) is a renowned and influential artist, whose legendary, fifty-plus-year practice fluctuates between a range of artistic mediums - from drawing, painting, and printmaking to muralism, performance, and set design. 
A consummate collaborator, Gronk has worked with a wide variety of notable peers. In 1969, he wrote and directed Caca-Roaches Have No Friends, a series of infamous performances featuring fellow queer artists Mundo Meza and Cyclona (Robert Legorreta). Along with Willie Herrón III, Gronk painted some of the most important murals in 1970s East LA, including The Black and White Mural (1973) at Estrada Courts in Boyle Heights and Caras (1973, no longer extant) in a pavilion in City Terrace Park. Perhaps most notably, between 1972 and 1987, Gronk served as a core member of ASCO (Spanish for nausea), the innovative Chicano/a/x art collective which, in its original formation, included Gronk, Patssi Valdez, Willie Herrón III, and Harry Gamboa Jr. At the time, the group responded directly, if often playfully, to the socioeconomic and political issues confronting their community, including the Chicano Moratorium and the Vietnam War, as well as other forms of state violence and institutional erasure. Some of their most notable works include Walking Mural (1972), Spray Paint LACMA / Pie in Deface (1972), Instant Mural (1974), and First Supper After a Major Riot (1974). Their ongoing, conceptually-driven project, No Movies, consisted of fancifully-staged images resembling film stills for non-existent movies featuring their own brown bodies, the very kind that were largely ignored by the Hollywood industry of that era, operating on just the other side of town. Separately, Gronk also developed a decade-long mail art practice with artist Jerry Dreva, culminating in a raucous 1978 exhibition at Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE), the important non-profit LA art space that he also helped to found. Additionally, for the last few decades, Gronk has nurtured an important partnership with the theater director, Peter Sellars, producing monumental set designs for major performances, including the operas Ainadamar (2005), Griselda (2011), and The Indian Queen (2013).
Simultaneously, and in tandem, to these many important collaborations, Gronk has continued to develop his own signature drawing and painting practice. In daily drawing sessions recorded across numerous journals, not to mention spare bits of paper, coffee sleeves, and napkins, Gronk has created his own idiosyncratic visual vocabulary of figures, forms, and abstract patterns. His most recognizable character, of course, is Tormenta, an elegantly-dressed seemingly-feminine persona (and perhaps, surrogate) who frequently appears in both his daily drawings and his major paintings. Her perpetually-turned back denies the viewer’s gaze and, therefore, elides complete knowability, while also frequently operating as an entry-point into the work. Sometimes, she even casts her own mimetic shadows, palimpsestic layerings alluding to alternate realities and/or creative potentialities, such as in his extraordinary painting Puta’s Cave (1988), a puny play on Plato’s allegory for the illusory nature of all human knowledge. Gronk’s drawing and painting practice has continued to evolve over the years as he investigates the emotive potential of these signature figures, forms, and patterns. Landmark exhibitions include Titanic and Other Tragedies at Sea at Ocaso Gallery (1985), Hotel Senator at Saxon Gallery (1990), and Gronk: A Living Survey, 1973-1993 at LACMA (1994), the first solo exhibition, in fact, featuring a Chicano artist to be held at that major Los Angeles institution. 
Gronk holds degrees from both East Los Angeles College and Cal State LA. He was awarded the Artist of the Year from the Mexican American Fine Arts Association and served as a Visual Artist Fellow for the National Endowment for the Arts. He has been an Artist-in-Residence at many institutions around the United States, including at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, Cornell University, Villa Montalvo, and the University of New Mexico. His work has been featured in numerous solo and group exhibitions, both nationally and internationally, in spaces such as the Vincent Price Art Museum, the Fine Arts Gallery at Cal State LA, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, the Fisher Gallery at the University of Southern California, the Long Beach Museum of Art, Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art, the San Jose Museum of Art, the Fresno Art Museum, the Tucson Museum of Art, the El Paso Museum of Art, the National Hispanic Cultural Center, and the Smithsonian.

Performance of Tormenta


Debuting during the Closing Event on Saturday, September 30, 2023.
Tormenta 1985 is a live performance based on Tormenta, a recurring figure in the art of renowned Chicano painter, printmaker, set designer, and performance artist Glugio Nicandro (a.k.a. Gronk). 
The performance takes us through the dream world of the artist and the genesis of Tormenta to tell a supernatural love story between the muse and the artist. A sci-fi narrative with biographical aspects told through live music, dance, acting, and a neo-surrealist-tinged short film.
Lead Actors:
Tormenta is played by Beatriz Eugenia Vásquez (Bewitched Writing)
Gronk is played by Peter Mendoza (Perry Mason)

Juan Carlos Valladares (piano)
Jaime Covarrubias (bass)
Jose Huizar (guitar)
Otto Cifuentes (trumpet)
Tigran Khatchatrian (violin)
Alex Rodriguez (percussion)

Production Team:
Written & Directed by Froylán Cabuto
Cinematography by Óscar Ávalos
Original Music by Otto Cifuentes
Musical Arrangements by Juan Carlos Valladares
Choreography by Beatriz Eugenia Vásquez
Costume Design by José Emanuel García
Editing by Óscar Ávalos