Press Release: May 5, 2015

Los Angeles based Artist Carlos Nieto III Wins the Autry’s High Five Art Contest

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Los Angeles, CA (May 5, 2015)—The Autry National Center of the American West announces Carlos Nieto III’s Cultura Nouveau as the winner of High Five Art, a new public art contest that encourages artists to interpret the presentday American West. Nieto will receive a prize of $2,500 and his design will be featured for one year on a 49’ x 19’ banner at the Autry's building in Griffith Park, where it will be visible from the 5 Freeway and the Los Angeles River. Nieto, along with the other four contest finalists, will be celebrated at a launch party on Thursday, May 21.

"When I saw the Autry's High Five Art contest artist call, I jumped at the chance,” said Nieto, an artist who was born and raised in Los Angeles. "Knowing that the winning image would be displayed on the building, I wanted to create an art piece that would cause the viewer to acknowledge and question it to create a visual dialogue. It's no doubt that the American West has always been a cultural melting pot but to what degree? I attempted to create a new vision of the American West, a vision of the cultures that are here now and are integral to it but are not recognized as being a part of it."

Throughout his childhood, Nieto saw Olvera Street as a cultural outlet and a source of inspiration. He is fascinated by the visual intersections between cultures and is driven to discover underlying connections between various artistic styles. "I felt that the message of this contest was perfectly in sync with my artistic vision, the focus of which has narrowed to making subtle connections across ethnic, racial, gender, and religious divides," Nieto said.

Through High Five Art, artists were encouraged to rethink perceptions of the American West—including its populations and landscapes—within a bold and creative format. A selection committee chose five finalists based on artistic merit, connection to the theme, originality, and ability to effectively translate onto a large banner format. Designs by the five finalists were displayed inside the Autry and online from March 1 to April 15, 2015, attracting more than 2,600 votes. The first runnerup is David C. Bryant’s design, SunScope. The second runnerup is Caitlin Anne’s design, Truce. Both runnerups will receive $500, and all five finalists will receive a oneyear Autry membership.

“This was an experiment designed to better understand how local artists would interpret the West as a concept, a physical and cultural landscape, and a place. We were very excited to see the depth and breadth of the High Five Art submissions, along with the thought and execution that went into the wideranging results,” said Amy Scott, the Autry's Chief Curator and Marilyn B. and Calvin B. Gross Curator of Visual Arts.

High Five Art Launch Party

Thursday, May 21, 6:30–9:00 p.m.
At the Autry in Griffith Park, 4700 Western Heritage Way, Los Angeles, CA 90027
Free Admission / Reservations Recommended

Unwind with music, enjoy artmaking activities, and meet the local artists and designers who participated in the High Five Art contest. A largescale banner featuring Carlos Nieto III's winning design Cultura Nouveau will be installed on the Autry's building. Beer, wine, and food truck fare will be available for purchase.



Artist: David C. Bryant
Artist Statement: This design interprets the contemporary American West by collaging energetic streaks of light and iconic palm trees into a kaleidoscopic sun pattern.


Artist: Caitlin Anne
Artist Statement: The bison is a longtime icon of the American West. Given its history, it stands as a reverent symbol of the natural beauty of the West and serves as a reminder of what humans are capable of destroying as well as recovering. The inclusion of the gold and red poppies was inspired by the Native American beadwork currently on display at the Autry. The bison's gaze reflects to us what we have outside our windows, our privilege to admire it, and our responsibility to protect it.

FINALIST: The Great American West

Artist: Carolyn Doucette
Artist Statement: The orange ribbon swooping through the cattle ranch landscape symbolizes human presence on the Earth—the hand of mankind and the effects of our modern intervention on the natural world. Like the urbanization of the American West, the orange ribbon is both beautiful and ominous amidst the idyllic landscape, a lyrical slash negating our ability to read the photograph as merely a quaint pastoral scene, causing us to question our notion of what it means to live in the American West today.

FINALIST: SunQuest3000

Artists: EARL GRAVY (Emma Kemp and Daniel Wroe)
Artist Statement: The image of a tanning bed–solitary and lonesome in the barren desertscape— its UV bulbs baring the colors of sunset, is both comical and affecting. The collision of the archetypal, iconic “West” (complete with thrusting canyon rock formations and sandy plateaus), with the superficiality of L.A. luxury and glamour (beauty salons simulating sunshine inside air conditioned booths), creates a rich space for contemplation. This scene asks us to reflect on our relationship with the geography of the American West—the way we use not only the landscape but its unique conditions and resources.

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About the Autry National Center of the American West

The Autry is a museum dedicated to exploring and sharing the stories, experiences, and perceptions of the diverse peoples of the American West, connecting the past to the present to inspire our shared future. The museum presents a wide range of exhibitions and public programs—including lectures, film, theatre, festivals, family events, and music—and performs scholarship, research, and educational outreach. The Autry’s collection of more than 500,000 pieces of art and artifacts includes the Southwest Museum of the American Indian Collection, one of the largest and most significant of Native American materials in the United States.


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