Mark Vallen's Newsletter © Oct '04
Art Activism & Social Change
Artworks by Mark Vallen
A R T  F O R   A  C H A N G E


1) - POINTED VISIONS... 3 metaphorical paintings from Mark Vallen
2) - INCONVENIENT EVIDENCE... Andy Warhol Museum shows Abu Ghraib photographs
3) - BATTLESHIP POTEMKIN 2004... Mass public/politcal art in London's Trafalgar Square
4) - EDWARD ADAMS... Photographer who helped define Vietnam war, dead at 71
5) - WAR, PEACE, & CIVIL LIBERTIES... Berkeley Art Center Group Exhibit
6) - XISPAS... Journal of Chicano Art and Culture publishes special issue for Columbus Day

All reviews and opinions by artist, Mark Vallen ©. To be placed on this newsletter's mailing list,
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"Cactus II" Oil painting by Mark Vallen
"Cactus II" Oil painting. Vallen 2004

Lankershim Arts Gallery
October 2004

After my successful retrospective at the
A Shenere Velt Gallery
, I'm presenting three new oil paintings of cactus that metaphorically deal with the issues of identity, homeland, and ecology.

The cacti growing in my Los Angeles neighborhood are overlooked by most people caught up in the urban struggle for survival… yet the humble cactus has grown throughout the region since time immemorial. The sturdy plant is specific to my native soil, and for millennia it has thrived in this arid desert land. It endures the harshest conditions, persevering with little water beneath the scorching sun. It is the ultimate survivor. While most of LA has been covered with concrete and asphalt, cactus persist in the middle of our urban blight, providing a stoic beauty all their own. My interest in the cactus as a symbol for surviving a bleak and discordant present, goes along with celebrating the nonfigurative qualities of a subject carefully observed. Close up observation of the plant revealed forms approaching pure abstraction… allowing me to paint “abstracts” that are actually works of hyper-realism.

I'll be showing these new paintings as part of LAG's "Art"ober Fest 2004 Group Show. The Artist's Reception takes place on Thursday, October 7th., 6 - 10 pm. Regular gallery hours are: Tues., Thurs., Fri. 11-5, Sat. 12-6. The gallery is located at: 5108 Lankershim Blvd., NoHo Arts District, North Hollywood, CA 91601. Phone: 818-760-1278. Web:

The Andy Warhol Museum shows
Abu Ghraib photos

The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh has mounted an exhibit of photographs taken by US soldiers at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. Titled, Inconvenient Evidence: Iraqi Prisoner Photographs from Abu Ghraib, the exhibition opened on Sept. 17 and runs until December 31, 2004.

Worth a thousand words

The exhibit includes 15 photos selected from news outlets and web sites. The ill-famed photographs depict naked Iraqi prisoners handcuffed and hooded, forced to simulate sexual acts, and suffering other shocking human rights abuses. The Warhol Museum is collaborating with the International Center of Photography in New York City, which will also be displaying the photos.

The Warhol says it mounted the exhibit in order to “thoughtfully and critically respond to current world events.” The museum noted the “extraordinary impact that amateur digital photographs have had on the public's view of the Iraq War, and the human rights issues that this technology exposed at Abu Ghraib prison and elsewhere.” Visit the Warhol website, at:

Top: Potemkin. Bottom - Paintings by Francis Bacon
Still from Potemkin and two paintings from Francis Bacon.

Mass public/political art in London's Trafalgar Square

This past September 12th, more than 40,000 people gathered in London's Trafalgar Square for an unusual evening performance, an open air screening of Sergei Eisenstein's classic revolutionary film, Battleship Potemkin. The world-shattering film was projected on a giant screen and provided a live soundtrack performed by the Dresdner Sinfoniker String Orchestra and composed by the Pet Shop Boys.

When the radical film was originally released in 1923, it threw authorities all over the world into an absolute panic. In Germany it was censored and military recruits were banned from watching it. In France all copies of the film were confiscated and destroyed. The film was banned in cities across the US, and in Britain it was outlawed until 1954. Eisenstein's ground-breaking movie details an actual event, the 1905 mutiny of Russian sailors on the Battleship Potemkin.

The sailors endured harsh treatment by their Czarist officers until they were served maggot infested meat… which led to mutiny and the navy men taking over the ship to raise the red flag of revolution. Eisenstein’s portrayal of the people of Odessa rising up in solidarity with the rebellious sailors, only to be massacred by counter-revolutionary Cossack troops… is perhaps one of the most famous in all of cinema.

The outdoor screen at Trafalgar Square
40,000 gathered in Trafalgar Square

The legendary “Odessa steps” scene not only heralded a new way of assembling film through staccato editing and juxtapositions of montage-like imagery… it introduced a new way of seeing. The Abstract Expressionist, Francis Bacon, first viewed the film in 1935 and kept stills from the movie in his studio. He frequently referenced the Odessa steps scene in his own paintings as a symbol of the angst present in our panic-stricken society.The film’s screening at Trafalgar Square was proceeded by oration from Simon McBurney, the pioneering actor-director and co-founder of the Complicite Theater Troupe. McBurney reminded those gathered that the Square held significance as a place of historic mass protest… from the 1930s marches against unemployment and the 1960s demonstrations against the Vietnam war, to the huge Anti-Poll Tax protests of 1990 and todays rallies against the war in Iraq. When the film ended, one last message was splashed across the huge screen. Massive letters proclaimed, “More than 50% of the world’s population live on or below the poverty line”… and then, “Existence = Resistance.”

The true face of war
Adams' award winning photo

Photographer who helped
define Vietnam war, dead at 71

This past September 20th, photojournalist Eddie Adams, died at his New York home at the age of 71 from Lou Gehrig's disease. Adams won a Pulitzer Prize for taking a photograph that came to define the war in Vietnam.

Adam’s unforgettably brutal photo was taken at the moment a South Vietnamese general murdered a prisoner by shooting him point blank in the head. Adams had been photographing events in Saigon on Feb. 1st, 1968, when he saw a prisoner in police hands being turned over to the South Vietnamese military. The photographer noted a General in complete silence marching up to the prisoner, and as the General raised his snubbed nosed pistol… Adams lifted his camera. At the precise moment the assassin’s bullet smashed into the suspect’s skull… the photo was snapped.

Reaction to Adams’ photo of the ruthless street execution was immediate and overwhelming. The image, capturing all the raw intensity and ferociousness of war, helped to turn US public opinion against the savaging of Vietnam. Antiwar forces within the US grew, and less than two months after the photo was taken, President Lyndon B. Johnson declared he would not seek reelection.

Edward Thomas Adams was born on June 12, 1933, in New Kensington, Pa. He served as a Marine Corps combat photographer in the Korean War, and beginning in 1962, spent ten years shooting for the Associated Press in Vietnam. Adams covered 13 wars from Korea to the Persian Gulf. He freelanced for Time-Life and Parade magazine, producing hundreds of cover photos for Parade magazine. He photographed Malcolm X, Louis Armstrong, Mother Teresa, and hundreds of other personalities in his lifetime. But his entire career was overshadowed by that split second in Vietnam, 1968.

Berkeley Art Center Group Exhibit
Now until
November 6th, 2004

War, Peace & Civil Liberties is the name of an exhibition now running at the Berkeley Art Center in Berkeley California. On display until Nov. 6th, 2004, are multi-media works that address the US occupation of Iraq, terrorism, religious fundamentalism, racial profiling, as well as artworks that express a desire for peace.

Some of the provocative titles for artworks in the show, are: "Death Bird", "Fear Booth", "Christian Soldier", and "Rainbow of Terror: Yellow Alert." The works in the exhibit range from drawings, paintings, and prints, to sculptures, photographs, and video installations. The public is encouraged to bring posters, flyers and ephemera to the gallery to post on the windows and walls of the lobby for the duration of the show. Admission to the exhibition is free of charge. Gallery hours are Wed. through Sun., noon to 5 pm. The gallery is located at: 1275 Walnut Street (in Live Oak Park) Berkeley, CA 94709. Phone: 510-644-6893. Visit the gallery online, at:

The ART FOR A CHANGE © newsletter encourages and promotes the creation of artworks that envision a just, peaceful world. If you wish to be added or removed from the AFC mailing list, or if you'd rather receive text only versions of this mailing, send an e-mail request to
"Nothing is so poor and melancholy as an art that is interested
in itself and not in its subject."
George Santayana