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Mexicali Biennial’s “Land of Milk & Honey” Exhibit Opens at The Cheech

-Editorial

After what was billed as “L.A.’s busiest art week” with five art fairs and multiple gallery events happening at the same time throughout Southern California, the Mexicali Biennial opens its latest iteration of its tongue-in-cheek, yet serious focus on border issues and art at The Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art & Culture of the Riverside Art Museum. After opening on February 25, 2023, the Land of Milk & Honey (La Tierra que mana leche y miel) continues through May 28, 2023.

The Land of Milk & Honey exhibition at The Cheech features mostly new or recent sculptures, mixed-media works, paintings, and digital media by over 40 artists from California and Mexico. 

This includes Narsiso Martínez who coincidentally received the 2023 Frieze Impact Prize; Ruben Ochoa who customized a sidewalk-vending-compliant tamale cart similar to what was displayed at Frieze Los Angeles, which, after the exhibition closes, will be donated to Tamales El Primo, an actual street vendor; and artist Marylucille Núñez who lives in Riverside, California and was selected after submitting to the open call for the Land of Milk & Honey in 2022. Other artists include Carolyn Castaño; Fernando Méndez Corona; Janet Díaz; Albert Lopez, Jr.; Planta Libre Espacio Experimental, an artist collective from Mexicali; and many others. Through their artworks, participating artists share personal views and their takes on the multi-layered topics associated with agriculture, including cultural relationships to food, associations with identity and place, and historical and political concerns.

In conjunction with the Land of Milk and Honey exhibition, a special corollary presentation called the MexiCali Biennial: Art, Action, Exchanges (arte, acciones, intercambio) is also on view at The Cheech. It chronicles projects of past MexiCali Biennials through art, ephemera, video recordings, and archival objects. It includes two reactivated artworks that were part of the inaugural exhibition in 2006 on the Mexicali-Calexico border: (1) Institute of Culture and Esthetics/Instituto de Cultura y Estéticas (I.C.E.), an installation by Ed Gómez; and (2) Untitled #36, a mural-sized installation by Luis G. Hernández. With his work, Hernández sought to capture the experience of someone living and working on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border and to call attention to the similarities and differences between both countries.

Conceived by artists and curators Ed Gómez and Luis G. Hernández, in 2006, the MexiCali Biennial is a rotating and changing series of art projects focused on aesthetic production and contemporary issues on the border between California and Mexico. While its name suggests otherwise, the MexiCali Biennial does not necessarily occur every two years. 

This playful critique of the proliferation of international and regional art biennials may be shown at any time and at any location. It is migratory and showcases exhibitions on both sides of the border. April Lillard-Gómez, project researcher and manager, and the newest member of the curatorial team, Rosalía Romero joined the project for this 2023 edition.

ADMISSION & PUBLIC HOURS: Admission is valid for The Cheech and Riverside Art Museum (RAM). Purchase tickets at the door or reserve online at https://riversideartmuseum.org/get-tickets. Tickets are $15.95 for general; $10.95 for seniors, students, and educators (ID required); and free for museum members, children under 12, military personnel (active and vets), and accompanying family members. Free admission is available on the first Sundays (1-5 pm) and the first Thursdays (6-9 pm). Public hours for RAM and The Cheech are Tuesday–Sunday 10 am to 5 pm (closed Monday). Check the website www.riversideartmuseum.org for details or call (951) 684-7111 for more information.

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