Chaz Bojórquez, Dave Tourjé, John Van Hamersveld, Norton Wisdom and Gary Wong, together and separately, embody the innovative, lively and rebellious spirit of Los Angeles. As diverse as the city itself, the methods and materials these reputed West Coast artists use vary widely, from Wisdom’s loose and spontaneous performance painting to Van Hamersveld’s deliberate, psychedelic graphics, and from Wong’s sophisticated paint/draw paintings to Tourjé’s reverse-painted diatribes and Bojórquez’s painterly street graffiti. What unifies these artists is their shared conviction that being raised in this sprawling metropolis fundamentally and distinctively informs and guides their art.
These native Angelenos grew up independently in all corners of this expansive city immersed in the myriad of colorful and intense L.A. subcultures—gangs, hot rod, surf, graffiti, skate, funk, punk and rock. Over the decades, they had loose, almost disrelated associations. All except Tourjé touched down at different times at the legendary and freewheeling Chouinard Art Institute during the 1960s and 70s. And all were raised with the ideologies and aesthetics of L.A.’s major postwar art movements - Abstract Expressionism, Hard Edge, Assemblage, Finish Fetish, Light and Space and Pop. They benefitted from the influx of internationally renowned artists who visited and exhibited here and witnessed the rise of their city as a major art center. These shaping experiences helped guide these artists to begin their careers as pioneers and evolve into established authorities of their respective hybrid genres.
Rather than suggesting a cohesive or coinable L.A. aesthetic, California Locos presents a collision of visions, a kaleidoscopic perspective of the urban art experience as seen and interpreted by L.A. insiders through highly individualized and expertly crafted works of art. While these artists capture the essence of the city from which they hail, their art is not narrow or provincial. What sets their work apart, both collectively and independently, and makes it so compelling, is their ability to create works of art that transcend the confines of individual experience and place. Their works speak to broader, more universal human experiences, resulting in both a local and global resonance - a connection to both L.A’s high-art sensibilities and the origins of rebellion.
With an iconoclasm bred in the interlaced underworlds of surf, skate, graffiti, and punk, the Locos represented, and continue to celebrate, a break from the shiny optimism of the past that had come to define LA’s visual culture; seeking instead to replace it with something dirtier, rougher, far more vital and more than anything, something local. For artists Chaz Bojórquez, Dave Tourjé, John Van Hamersveld, Norton Wisdom, Gary Wong, and their contemporaries, being from LA was everything. It still is. But like all great artists, these five have never stopped working, never stopped growing, absorbing, refining, and innovating. What they did changed everything, but what they are doing now is the best work of their lives.