Gerardo Monterrubio, Ceramicist

Gerardo Monterrubio stumbled upon the craft of ceramics while pursuing a different passion. “I was chasing a girl,” he said. “She was taking a ceramics class at Los Angeles City College.” Although she ended up moving to Japan, the chance paid off for Monterrubio, as he discovered that he loved working with clay. He continued his art education at California State University, Long Beach, where he focused on drawing and painting. “But when I found out the ceramics studio was open 24 hours, I pretty much stayed there and never left the field.” Monterrubio now teaches ceramics at Long Beach City College. Some of his work draws from his background as an Oaxaca, Mexico, native and incorporates social commentary. He is pictured here with “La Malintzin,” a wooden crucifix with a porcelain Christ figure, and “Carnalita,” a terra cotta artwork below. The figure in “Carnalita” is a depiction of Claudia Patricia Gómez González, a 20-year-old Guatemalan immigrant killed by border patrol officers while crossing over in Texas. Monterrubio said the two pieces complement each other, as González is depicted as the Virgin Mary. “In the background, you see dogs fighting and killing each other. That’s what it feels like in this political climate,” he said. Monterrubio described the creative process as all-consuming. “I got five hours of sleep last night because I was really engaged in one piece I was working on,” he said. “You get lost because there’s a pleasure you find in being uncomfortable in your work when you’re trying to find [creative] solutions.”

 

Kristin Beeler, Jeweler and Multimedia Artist

Although artist Kristin Beeler started out with a passion for jewelry and metalwork, she extended her range to other mediums as well. Beeler earned a degree in applied design, and her work includes photography and fiber arts. “I have to become an expert in things,” Beeler said in describing her pursuit of meaningful creation. “Once I have a subject, I have to pursue it from every perspective in order to understand it.” Sixteen years ago, Beeler moved from Tucson, Arizona, to teach jewelry making at Long Beach City College. She said her students are one of her greatest sources of inspiration. “They are amazing humans. I just admire them so much because they’re often juggling work and family and so many other things to continue going to school,” she commented. Beeler depicted one of her students in her series, “archive of rag and bone,” on display at the Long Beach Museum of Art Exchange. This body of work focuses on moments in time that altered the course of the future. Included in the series is a photograph, “Portrait Of A Woman,” featuring the student, who suffered a snowboarding accident and now carries a scar as a result. Another piece in the series are objects constructed out of wood, charcoal, sterling, steel and mother of pearl, which draw inspiration from the volcanic eruption of Mt. Vesuvius and its impact on ancient Roman cities Pompeii and Herculaneum. “The thing that’s special about that is, when the lava came, it just flash-carbonized everything organic: loaves of bread, furniture, tables,” Beeler explained. “It was just that one moment where everything changes.”

 

Jose Loza, Muralist

Artist Jose Loza discovered he had a knack for painting as a middle school student, when he was hanging around in the summer with nothing to do. “My parents told me an artist was doing a mural in the neighborhood, close to Anaheim Street and Temple Avenue, and was looking for volunteers,” he recalled. “I was helping smaller kids paint and I really liked it, so I kept volunteering on projects around town.” Loza continued his work beautifying Long Beach, and is pictured with a recent project, a mural depicting a child riding a coyote. He explained that the girl is searching for her family, and that the mural is meant to evoke the news stories of family separations at the Mexican border. “I’ve always been curious about the origins of people’s stories and how they get to where they are and why,” he explained. “You hear about their hardships. I wanted to visually interpret this to make it aesthetically pleasing, but also carry a deeper message.” An immigrant himself, Loza moved to the United States from Cuernavaca, Mexico, when he was a toddler. He said he enjoys incorporating the topic of immigration into his work, as well as political and satirical themes. Loza described creating art like “scratching an itch,” or exploring a topic that provokes curiosity. “In painting murals, you get to do a lot of research, whether it’s a neighborhood project or something about migration, because people will ask you about it,” he said. “You get to learn new things and then you get to paint about it.”

 

*All photographs by the Business Journal’s Anne Artley

 

 

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