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Crewest Gallery opens show; lets artist Gusmano Cesaretti smush his own work.

Crewest, a gallery on Winston Street (just off Main) in downtown Los Angeles, just opened a powerful exhibit of Gusmano Cesaretti’s work, and on opening night, the artist himself severely abused the prints on the wall.

(Photo: John Rabe)

According to his website, Cesaretti has been shooting photos in LA for forty years, and has been exhibited at the Smithsonian, MOCA, LACMA, and SF MOMA.

The Cesaretti image I’d seen before was the Virgin with an AK-47 …

… which is represented at Crewest by a half-dozen or so huge (6x3 feet?) scrolls in different colors, with different backgrounds -- one was printed on a Chinese calendar, another with collages of women’s images from magazines and newspapers.

Most of the wallspace is taken up by these 8-1/2 x 11 images – some collages with writing or drawing, some Cesaretti’s photos. The photos are inkjetted onto Hammermill acid-free paper that is practically indestructible. How do I know? Because when Cesaretti himself was describing how he gets the parchment-wrinkly quality in the print, he ripped a print out of the pushpins holding it to the wall, balled it up in his hands, stomped on it with his feet, then picked it up and smoothed it out and showed us how the rough treatment only made the print better, “more beautiful.” You can even stitch it, which he did with a paper lamp in a corner of the gallery.

(Installation by Gusmano Cesaretti, photo by John Rabe)

Crewest set aside a small room – one you can see from the street -- for Cesaretti’s installation homage to the thousands of women murdered in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. There’s a large virgin, a cross imbedded with found objects Cesaretti made in the late 1980s, candles, and rose petals. And photos of women. It’s simple and powerful.

Man One, the gallery owner, says he’s getting ready to celebrate 8 years in business. He started in Alhambra, then moved downtown four years ago, when the Art Crawl would bring maybe fifty people. Now, he routinely gets 1,500 in a single night.

If you’re interested in buying … Cesaretti’s larger pieces, and his twenty-image art books, are spendy, but the 8-1/2 x 11 crinkly prints run from, I think, $30 to $50. The exhibit is up through the end of May.

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