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Home Blog Cartwheel Art Debuts ‘Dark Progressivism:Metropolis Rising’

Cartwheel Art Debuts ‘Dark Progressivism:Metropolis Rising’


CARTWHEEL Art presents Dark Progressivism:  Metropolis Rising Special Exhibition at 2015 LA Art Show.

CARTWHEEL Art will debut a special exhibition, “DARK PROGRESSIVISM: METROPOLIS RISING” at the upcoming LA Art Show, taking place January 14-18 at the Los Angeles Convention Center.  The exhibition will be on view at booth 145.

“Dark Progressivism: Metropolis Rising” at the LA Art Show is the first international presentation of the Los Angeles born genre Dark Progressivism.  Curated by Cartwheel Art editorial director Lisa Derrick and author/filmmaker Rodrigo Ribera D’Eber, this special exhibition presents works united by their visions and expressions of the Southern California experience.

Based in Southern California’s urban dynamics and informed by graffiti, tattoo, and street culture, the artists in Dark Progressivism have developed fine art sensibilities that carry through into galleries and museums. The very public darkness of the last fifty years in the region—natural disasters, race riots, gang wars, serial killers, police brutality, drugs, crushing poverty contrasted by insane wealth—and the rich cultural mix are the roots of Dark Progressivism, a style that is now being recognized in both the art and academic worlds.

Dark Progressivism contrasts with art movements like Light & Space, Pop Surrealism, and Kustom Kulture, Southern California genres with which it is contemporary. Dark Progressivism is a rupture away from Light & Space’s meditative works that reflect nature; and while it demonstrates the street vernacular and urban culture at the roots of Pop Surrealism and Kustom Kulture, the aesthetics of Dark Progressivism deal in gritty realities rather than idealized visions and interpretations.

The artists included in this exhibition, many of whom are featured in the film, Dark Progressivism: On Rupture to Rebellion, written and directed by Rodrigo Ribera D’Ebre, present works in black, white, and shades of gray, drawing on Dark Progressivism’s roots in gang graffiti, illicit murals, and tattooing, as well as commenting on the shadows out of which the artists, and Southern California as whole, have progressed over the past five decades. Additionally, the monochromatic theme of “Dark Progressivism: Metropolis Rising” connects to the Hollywood genre of film noir and its predecessor in art and film, German Expressionism.

Some of the artists is the exhibition are internationally known, others are emerging, while one is a prisoner in Pelican Bay Prison’s Secure Housing Unit. “Dark Progressivism: Metropolis Rising,” is curated by Cartwheel Art’s editorial director Lisa Derrick and author/filmmaker Rodrigo Ribera d’Ebre and features Abel M. AlejandreBig SleepsChaz BojorquezCryptikDaniel GonzalezRoberto GutiérrezEd GutterJesse HazelipJason HernandezJuan Carlos Muñoz HernandezAlex Defer KizuPatrick MartinezJack MorrisRafael Reyes, andJoe Prime Reza.

Book signing: Sunday January 18, 1:00pm with Rodrigo Ribera d’Ebre, Big Sleeps and Rafael Reyes. Booth 145., Writer/director of the upcoming documentary film Dark Progressivism: On Rupture and RebellionRodrigo RiberaD’Ebre is a social science researcher, a journalist and the author of several novels and the political analysis Urban Politics: The Political Culture of Sur 13 Gangs, which juxtaposes Sureno street gangs, political theory, and government organizations. D’Ebre, who grew up in Lennox, California surrounded by gang members, has a degree in Political Science from California State University, Los Angeles.  Internationally known artist Big Sleeps began his career on the streets of Los Angeles studying and drawing the stylized lettering of “placas,” a localized form of graffiti writing found on neighborhood walls, park benches, bus stops, and fences.  Growing up as a gang member, and while behind bars, Sleeps constantly worked on his lettering designs. Sleeps’ life shifted and he is now a world-renown tattoo and gallery artist. His wall skills have been featured at the El Segundo Museum of Art and the LA Art Show; his lettering work is included in the Getty Research Institute collection. His books Letters to Live ByVolumes 1 and 2, stress the artistry of handstyle and thus the importance of literacy.  A former gang-member and the founder of San Diego’s first vegetarian Mexican restaurant Pokez, artist, author and musician Rafael Reyes lays out the gritty adventures of a graffiti-writing gang member in his novella Living Dangerously, which includes art and photographs from some of San Diego’s most notorious graffiti artists. He also explores truths of barrio life with his goth-influenced band Prayers, which has toured with The Cult and sold out shows throughout California, while his art has been featured in galleries throughout the Southland.

The LA Art Show takes place from January 14 – 18, 2015 concurrently with the Los Angeles Jewelry, Antique & Design Show at the Los Angeles Convention Center, South Hall 1201 Figueroa Street, Los Angeles, CA 90015. For additional information about the LA Art Show, please visit


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