Lezley Saar, “A Night at the Uranium” (2015), acrylic on fabric over wood panel, 24” x 18” (image courtesy Walter Maciel Gallery, photo by Lezley Saar)

Along with her mother Betye and sister Alison, Lezley Saar is part of one of the most prolific families in contemporary American art. Each woman engages with complicated and often painful histories of race, gender, and politics in their own way: Betye Saar, who continues to make work at the age of 90, was a pioneer of assemblage art and a seminal member of the Black Arts Movement in the 1960 and ’70s; Alison creates haunting and visceral figurative sculpture; and Lezley’s paintings utilize Victorian and Edwardian precedents to depict untold and unexpected narratives.

Her second exhibition at Culver City’s Walter Maciel Gallery, Gender Renaissance, features a diverse cast of multiracial characters, portrayed in traditional settings that are punctuated by surrealist interventions: a classical portrait of a man with mushrooms sprouting from his head, for example. These new works also explore issues of gender identity and fluidity, inspired by Saar’s son who has been transitioning from female to male over the past several years. In addition to these intimate paintings, the show also features large-scale fabric banners that prominently display portraits of women. Fusing the African-American quilting tradition with European tropes of portraiture, these works grant monumental status to those that have historically been underrepresented.

When: Opening reception on Saturday, May 13, 6–8pm
Where: Walter Maciel Gallery (2642 S. La Cienega Boulevard, Culver City, Los Angeles)

More info here.

Matt Stromberg is a freelance visual arts writer based in Los Angeles. In addition to Hyperallergic, he has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, CARLA, Apollo, ARTNews, and other publications.