Cardboard Los Angeles

Installation view of Ana Serrano's Salon of Beauty. Image courtesy the artist.
Installation view of Ana Serrano's Salon of Beauty. Image courtesy the artist.

MANILA, Philippines — One of the lovely things about living abroad is seeing the American art world through the internet. When in the US, I’m tugged in so many directions from brick-and-mortar spaces, but there are a ton of American gems online, and not all of them are in New York and Los Angeles.

I recently came across Ana Serrano’s terrific Salon of Beauty, a cardboard installation running till December 11 at Rice Gallery in Houston, Texas. The show features large-scale cardboard recreations of common buildings in Los Angeles, including an adult theatre, a bank and a beauty salon. This is the Los Angeles I grew up with, and though I haven’t seen the show in person, it feels at the same time familiar but awakened through her rich use of color and the recontextualization of space.

Salon of Beauty from Mark & Angela Walley on Vimeo.

The quirky title comes from Serrano’s real-life encounter with a “Salon of Beauty” — a word for word translation of salon de belleza, or beauty salon. In an email interview, she explained to me that the designs don’t come from specific neighborhoods, but from her general experience in Los Angeles. She lives and works in Highland Park and grew up in different parts of town like East LA, South LA and Downey.

The scale of the installation gave her more room to explore Los Angeles:

“I think with this exhibition I was able to focus more on details that I wasn’t able to at a smaller scale. Details like the iron bars and plants growing from the cracks in cement. Those details seemed to lend themselves better at a larger scale so I made sure to take advantage of that.”

Salon of Beauty runs till December 11 at Rice Gallery (6100 Main Street, Houston, Texas).

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