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focus: Mario Ybarra Jr.—Take Me Out...No Man Is an Island

May 29, 2008–August 24, 2008
Gallery 139

Mario Ybarra, Jr is a visual and performance artist, educator, and activist who combines street culture with fine art in order to produce what he calls "contemporary art that is filtered through a Mexican American experience in Los Angeles." He has received critical acclaim for his site-specific urban interventions that often bring to light little-known aspects of a particular location’s cultural history. In Take Me Out, Ybarra conducts a comparative study of Los Angeles and Chicago, using the chewing-gum magnate William Wrigley, Jr., and his business ventures in both cities as his jumping-off point. Through extensive archival and anecdotal research, Ybarra draws parallels between these two cities' cultural idiosyncrasies and similarities.This new site-specific installation investigates South Central Los Angeles’s lesser-known Wrigley Field—built in the 1920s as the original home of the Los Angeles Angels and torn down in 1966—in relation to its more famous Chicago counterpart. Wrigley also owned Catalina Island, located 26 miles off the coast of Los Angeles. It was here that he held Chicago Cubs spring training, hosted a number of Hollywood movie stars including Marilyn Monroe and Clark Gable, and populated the landscape with wild boar and buffalo for his guests to hunt during their stays. Catalina is of particular interest to Ybarra because of its omission in the treaty of Guadalupe–Hidalgo, the document that allotted Mexican territory to the United States after the Mexican American War. This technicality motivated the militant Chicano group known as the Brown Berets to lead an unsuccessful but symbolic occupation of the island in 1972.

The exhibition includes a room-size replica of Wrigley Field based on a paper fold-out model of the park designed by the artist. On the walls surrounding the “stadium,” ghost ships are projected in reference to the SS Catalina, built in 1924 by Wrigley to carry passengers to the island.

This will be Ybarra’s first solo museum exhibition. His work was included in the Whitney Biennial this year, and he is a 2008 Creative Capital grant recipient.


This exhibition is made possible by a grant from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. Ongoing support for Focus exhibitions is provided by the Alfred L. McDougal and Nancy Lauter McDougal Fund for Contemporary Art.

Mario Ybarra, Jr. Take Me Out...No Man Is an Island (detail), 2008. Courtesy of the artist and Anna Helwing Gallery, Los Angeles.