2021 FEATURED ARTISTS
For almost all the LAMC editions in the past, we have highlighted art that has inspired us. In doing so, we helped put a a focus on a handful of the many incredible artists who are sharing their creativity be it via their paintings, photographs, silk screens, fabrics, graphics etc. When we all meet in New York at the Stewart Hotel, we exhibit the art in the area leading into the main conference room. Year after year, the artists reach a new set of creators and those who champion them. It’s an audience that appreciates what they are doing (and often buy out all the art displayed). This year we continue virtually and we proudly highlight two artists - Carolina Velez and also the husband and wife team of James and Karla Murray.
Carolina Vélez Muñiz is a creator from Mexico City. She processes her surroundings, family histories, traditions, and experiences through bright and symbolic imagery. She plays with what scares her. Carolina holds a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where she specialized in painting and weaving. Her projects are communitarian in nature and have been supported by the National Fund for the Arts and Culture in Mexico and the Luminarts Foundation in Chicago.
New York City has long been a city where immigration was a key part of what made it unique, what made it special and what made it … New York. With each wave of immigration, along came grocery stores, restaurants, meeting places, barbershops, bakeries etc etc - all basically destinations to help people make their adjustments to a new city and life.
New York is all about change. Latinos have long been a key part of the New York experience. You can feel it, you can see it, you can hear it and you can especially taste it. Things come and go. Sometimes that is good and sometimes not so much. The changing of New York City can be felt with the fact that you are seeing less and less of the classic mom and pop Latino stores that helped tell our initial stories. James and Karla Murray have been famously taking photos of New York City storefronts for years. I have long been a fan of their books and their story telling so I reached out to them and asked if they had photos of Latino storefronts from days gone by (some recent and some not so much) that we could show as part of the LAMC and they happily obliged. It was a pleasure going through all the photos they shared to come to this group of images. Please enjoy them as I am sure there are versions of this story in your town too. It’s always good to look forward but it is also important to keep the good of the past around to use as a learning example. Just like with musicians and the people who champion them, each one of those shops had their own dream, vision and story. - Tomas Cookman
James and Karla Murray
James and Karla Murray are husband-and-wife architectural and interior photographers and multi-media artists based in New York City. For the past twenty-five years they have focused their lens on the streetscape through portraits of storefronts and shop owners and have strived to capture moments of city life that often go undocumented but capture the spirit, energy and cultural diversity of individual neighborhoods. They made it their mission to thoroughly
document unique 'mom-and-pop' stores when they began to notice the alarming rate at which the shops were disappearing. Their critically acclaimed books include Store Front: The Disappearing Face of New York, New York Nights, Store Front II- A History Preserved, and Broken Windows-Graffiti NYC. The authors’ landmark 2008 book, Store Front, was cited in Bookforum's Dec/Jan 2015 issue as one of the “Exemplary Art Books From The Past Two Decades” and heralded as “One of the periods most successful New York books.” New York Nights was the winner of the prestigious New York Society Library’s 2012 New York City Book Award. Their photographs are included in the permanent collections of major institutions, including the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, the New York Public Library, and NYU Langone Medical Center. James and Karla live in the East Village of Manhattan with their rescue dog Hudson.