A Mini Retrospective: Maryrose Cobarrubias Mendoza’s POP’d

Maryrose Cobarrubias Mendoza: POP’d
Location: 1424 11th AVE, STE B, Seattle, WA 98122
Date: June 3–July 10, 2021

From Typhoon is pleased to present POP’d, a solo exhibition of paintings, drawings, and sculptures created between 2010 and 2021 by Los Angeles-based artist Maryrose Cobarrubias Mendoza. On view in the historic auto row building of Capitol Hill, Chophouse Row, is a survey of works highlighting the influences of Pop Art and Fluxus.

The selection of work is emblematic of Mendoza’s melding of the playful with the violent, an uncovering of memory and the challenges of the everyday political.

At the exhibition’s open, we encounter her newest work, Son, 2021—a large Kraft paper lunch sack obscuring nearly the whole of the exhibition. The work, turned toward its side on entrance, acts as both barrier and invitation. The creases and folds so representative of an ordinary paper bag, now made immense, is our first cue for inspection. As we round the sculpture, we meet the handwritten address to “son” and an intimate space filled with ruled pages, guns, iconic crayons, and pink boxes open up before us.

Works such as Paper, 2015, a study in slant perspective of the blank lined paper and Raft, 2018, a trio of Botan rice bags reevaluating Géricault’s The Raft of the Medusa, lie directly on the floor. At once seemingly simple paper products counter to the hard materiality of an auto factory turned gallery space and an understated exuberance toward self-agency and community-building.

Mendoza’s work is deeply conceptual, often attenuating the pronounced natures of what’s popular and bringing us face-to-face with embedded forms of political (American) contingencies: the effects of an American public education system, neo-colonialism, consumerism, and identity.
Motifs such as the brown Crayon and the pink pastry box are some of the most delightful, yet perplexing vehicles evidence for a parsing through the colonial mindset she found herself subject to growing up.

In an earlier version, the brown Crayon was a result of rage and frustration, reprinting and rewrapping the names such as “shit,” “chocolate,” “tree,” etc. around normal-sized brown crayons in brown, 2004. Kayumanngi, 2019, is rather a celebration and a call to action created in the moments the artist decided she, too, was visible and “american.” In POP’d, we present Siopao, 2020, Open, 2015, storage, 2019, and Isla, 2020— a series of pink boxes in gouache and graphite, in colored pencil, or made of hand-cut and folded paper boxes. Some are closed and others are open, one is in isometric perspective, or are placed atop balikbayan box-like pedestals. The ready-made object associated with Southern California donut shops that for Mendoza resonates with emotion gives way to portrayals of happenstance and contemplation.

Pop Art was accessible to everyone and blurred the lines of high and low culture. In Fluxus, the importance of moments and awareness was key. Both of these art movements were also formative because of their anti-institutional roots and spoke to Mendoza as a young artist not seeing herself reflected in the art world. Well within the realms of Post Pop and revitalized conceptualism, Mendoza’s utilization of the ephemeral, her materials of paper, cardboard, and colored pencils, also announce visual poetries cultivated against the backdrop of catastrophe in the Anthropocene. Within the indices and thresholds of her work lies a concern with and obsession for, Time.

For the last several years, Mendoza has been working with challenging subject matter influenced by the 2016 election and the ensuing social climate. Throughout her career she has always been drawn to ideas and aesthetics that elevate the everyday and celebrate the common object. Since these notions continue to inform her practice even as it has evolved into more direct social and political exchange, we are excited to see past and newer works together in the same space. The exhibition closes with Bun, 2021, a gouache and graphite painting of a dumpling, or Filipino siopao. The image itself is no more than a square inch in size and bare, brought out of the containers or pink boxes that riddle the Gallery. Perhaps a treat to satiate the belly or perhaps a trick to make the viewer come closer? Mendoza engages with a myriad of historical forms, stripping them of expectations and creating space for possibility.

Through replication, scale, and perspective, Maryrose Cobarrubias Mendoza uses personal touch and common materials to transform the banal via drawing, sculpture, and installation toward visual poetry. Creating a visual language inspired by “things” helps restore parts of spoken language that were often absent or confusing during Mendoza’s childhood, since neither her native nor non-native languages were fully formed when she immigrated. From the spaces between American, Filipino, and Filipino American cultures, Mendoza investigates colonized and decolonized perspectives reflecting circumstances of cultural amnesia and assimilation through the process of the handmade.

Mendoza’s work was most recently exhibited as part of the Orange County Museum of Art OCMAExpand series. She has also exhibited at the Pacific Asia Museum, the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, the Armory Center for the Arts, PlugIn Gallery, SOMA Arts, YYZ Artist Outlet, Commonwealth and Council, and many others.

Mendoza’s work has been featured in publications including Asian Pacific Sculpture News, the Nomadic Journal, the Globe and Mail, Artweek, and City Beat, among others. She is a recipient of a 2019 Guggenheim Fellowship, a COLA Individual Artist Fellowship, a NY Art Matters Fellowship, and others. She has participated in Artist-in-Residence programs at Yaddo Artist Residency, Joshua Tree Highlands Residency and Art Space Yosuga in Kyoto.

Maryrose was born in Manila, Philippines, and immigrated to the United States at the age of three. She lives and works in Los Angeles County where she is an Associate Professor and Drawing Coordinator at Pasadena City College.