Category Archives: Press

Mike Arata Past and Present: LA Art in the 90s

Sculpture, activities, photo, drawing, painting, installation.
Michael Arata

Your shows at Miller Durazo? “Killer Rainbows. I mostly remember random openings. It was a nice gritty time to get together with other artist and complain, dialog, plan and socialize. It was more like an art club.

“Life was bleak in the mid-nineties. I was teaching for low income and the future did not look promising. Things got much better as we approached the millennium. I was making “Pet Space” sculpture and photos. This included the colorful and grayscale rainbows. Content oriented.” How has your art evolved now? “Same, just more edgy content. read more

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Michael Arata, “Spanking Machine,”, 2001-04, Lambda print

If you saw Michael Arata’s work around the mid-90’s, most curators would have told you he’s headed to hell in a hand basket. In fact, I can still recall a group show organized by Bill Radewic (“Documenta”-1996) in which Arata was outfitting gray scaled rainbows with machine guns. Arata referred to those particular pieces as “killer rainbows”-which was remarkably ironic. You see, at the time, most exhibitioners that were fortunate enough to grace the same halls as his work, esteemed him as anything but “killer”. As it turns out, the “Rainbow” series would lead to more art-this time, with greater maturity and significance.
In his most current exhibition entitled “Pet Spaces”, Arata builds upon the past with a series of photos posing as himself. In most of the photos he fills in the negative space between his legs and arms with color, assigning each of these “pet spaces” with fabricated dummy eyes. His poses mostly consist of him executing routine tasks like praying, making love, and playing games. In a few instances, he travels outside these safe boundaries by practicing ballet or posing in the same stance as a Victoria’s Secret model. read more

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Campus Circle article, 2011

Flock, 2005, mixed media, dimensions variable, by Michael Arata.

“How would you describe this exhibition?” I ask artist Michael Arata.

“It’s my life!” he replies.

Sure enough, as Arata describes, his exhibition at the Beacon Arts Building truly shows his life as an artist … and perhaps even more. Until May 22, Arata will be holding his largest solo exhibition for the public to enjoy.

Arata, born in 1955, is a playful, creative contemporary artist who challenges ordinary perceptions of various aspects of our lives through his imaginative work. A versatile artist who works with just about anything from newspaper, acrylic paint and soccer balls to tampon applicators (yes, weird), to name only a few, Arata deserves praise for his unconventional work that often confuses the viewer with its web of meanings. read more

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Arataland Exposition: Examiner article, 2011

Beacon Arts continues its Critics-as-Curators series with Arataland! A Mid-Career Survey of Artworks by Michael Arata curated by art critic Doug Harvey, opening Saturday, March 26, 2011. Arataland! will be the first museum-scale retrospective devoted exclusively to the work of this important Los Angeles artist, and the first monographic exhibit hosted by the Beacon Arts Building during its inaugural Critics-as-Curators series. Drawing on three decades of sculpture, painting, drawing, photography, installation and performance work, Arataland! will transform the Beacon Arts Building into a theme park exploring the complex and idiosyncratic vision – darkly humorous, playfully erotic, conceptually quirky, and often confrontational – that animates Arata’s oeuvre. The exhibit will run for eight weeks closing on Sunday, May 22, 2011 with a Critics-as-Curators panel discussion from 1:00 to 4:00pm. Beacon Arts is located at 808 N. La Brea Ave., Inglewood, CA 90302. For additional information please call 310-621-5416 or visit http://www.beaconartsbuilding.comas well as read more

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Mocking Beauty: Artslant, 2011

Arthur Danto in his essay, Why Does Art Need To Be Explained”/Hegel, Biedermeier, and the Intractably Avant-Garde,  proposes that contemporary art no longer has, “viewers”. Instead he speculates the proper description of a viewer would be that of an “encounterer.” According to Danto, a work of art is a moral adventure rather than an aesthetic experience. Danto predicts an artist/audience relationship that is at once carnivalesque and hopeful. Michael Arata’s mid-career survey Arataland! at the Beacon Arts Building and its accompanying essay by Doug Harvey suggests an inventive and humorous life open to change and yet rigid in its defiant stance embracing the relational aesthetics of his time in his own bombastic style. Because Arata has continued to work within the context of relational understanding, a survey show is difficult and at many times feels a bit disjunctive. One thing for sure, the show is never boring, from the gilded sphincter’s of sheep in, Flock to his more recent forays into spiritualism via shit in the series of floating turds entitled Souls, Arataland! entertains as well as it provokes. read more

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Mount Washington Artist Exhibits on a Grand Scale: Article, 2011

Mount Washington artist Michael Arata’s exhibit Arataland! is a theme park for adults.
By Kim Axelrod Ohanneson

Rainbow larva. Hello Kitty bombs. Secret pine cone messages.

Such inspired madness may sound like the contents of a precocious and/or demented child’s toy box but in fact, they’re the building blocks of Arataland!, the “mid-career survey of artworks by Mount Washington’s Michael Arata:” a description that, while factually accurate, can’t begin to convey Arata’s mix of the playful and the disconcerting; the observational and the interactive. read more

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Michael Arata’s Mad, Mental Junk Pile: BlouinArtInfo, 2011


The aptly named “Arataland!” is an enormous, sprawling exhibition of sculptures, wall hangings, and installations populating various galleries on three separate floors of Inglewood’s Beacon Arts Building. While it is prosaically labeled a “mid-career survey” of the work of Los Angeles artist Michael Arata — with works ranging from the late 1980s to the present — it might be more descriptive to call it a wholesale evocation of the artist’s mind, heart, and practice. Nimbly curated by writer (and sometimes ARTINFO L.A. correspondent) Doug Harvey to inhabit the expansive and irregular spaces of this large former warehouse, this show is a delightful opportunity to immerse oneself in the production of this under-recognized “artist’s artist,” and experience the whole of his celebratory, perverse, meditative, and playful oeuvre. read more

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Arataland! Review by Shana Nys Dambrot: White Hot Magazine Article, 2011

Michael Arata, Arataland! Installation view at Beacon Arts Building, 2011

Review by Shana Nys Dambrot:

Arata is one of the most prolific, secretly popular artists in LA. He’s been working, showing, teaching, and curating for decades; but like many of his colleagues, he’s never been the subject of a full-blown retrospective. Until now. Art writer — and talented artist himself — Mr. Doug Harvey used his turn at the helm of Beacon Arts Building’s Critic-As-Curator series to rectify that situation. Occupying every inch and nook on three floors of the recently renovated retro industrial fortress, the sprawling survey presents a thoroughgoing but measured account of Arata’s many series, most of which he has worked on periodically over the years, organized in discreet groups and/or side rooms which lend themselves to this kind of thematic design. Both the overall conceit of the installation design and conceptual framework of Arataland! is an amusement park; with creative periods assigned accordingly and actual participatory games and experiments on offer. The checklist comes with a hand-drawn map and a pervy connect-the-dots game. The exhibition demonstrated substantial scholarship, a thoughtful selection process, and a bemused fondness for the more outre aspects of Arata’s practice — and the unconventional location suited the project perfectly. Arata is aware that a show of this scope and assertive irreverence would make unlikely museum fare, saying, “Inglewood is an outpost — some say ‘lawless,’ I say ‘fresh,’ a show like this could never happen in the confines of mainstream venues.” read more

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