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Bound & Gagged
at black maria gallery
April 21 – May 15, 2007

Opening Reception:  Saturday 21st April, 7:00 – 10:30pm

3137 Glendale Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90039
323.660.9393 & 818.613.9090
Gallery hours: Tues-Sat 12 PM-6 PM or by appointment

Vahé Berberian, Gin Stevens, Jason Houchen, Jack Howe, Chris Goodman, Eduardo Benedetto, Joe Girandola, Eliana Dominguez, Lorenzo Moran, Drew, Man One, Vyal, Werc.

Featuring paintings, drawings, graffiti, and various objects, some of which date back to the 1950s, “Bound & Gagged” is an exploration of the artistic attempt to break out of the dark side, according to Black Maria Gallery director Zara Zeitountsian. The Exhibition will comprise graffiti created especially for the exhibition by a number of Los Angeles artists, as well as ongoing screenings of a recent documentary on prison art. The graffiti component of the exhibition is being organized in collaboration with Gallery Crewest.

“Imprisonment, whether actual or metaphorical, is an extreme experience that might push people to respond with a radical alternative to their boundaries, by channeling the desire for freedom into art,” Zeitountsian said. “What’s remarkable is that creative expression in conditions of confinement is often tantamount to doing away with one’s inhibitions, resulting in a heightened sense of liberation and release.”

While many of the artists participating in the upcoming exhibition have never done time behind bars, some are former prisoners and one is still incarcerated. In addition to new paintings and drawings, the featured works include prison art, such as worry beads made of hardened bread and a stone book, culled from the 1950s, 70s, and 80s.

“Art created out of a sense of imprisonment has a distinct intensity and honesty to it,” Zeitountsian continued. “Such works do away with the impulse to sanitize things; they’re gritty, unafraid to say it as it is.”

Sam Saga, exhibition curator, commented on some of the subject matter of the featured works. “Sex and religion are common themes in prison art because there’s a process of emotional purification here, of getting to the bottom of it all. It’s highly personal stuff. When a prison inmate, who has never drawn a line in his life, suddenly picks up paint and brush as a way to find a certain grounding, he’s going to paint what he knows to be true, what he yearns for the most. Hence images of sex and religion, as perhaps the ultimate expressions of love.”

Vahé Berberian an Armenian painter, author, playwright and actor, was born in Beirut, Lebanon, in 1955. He grew up in Beirut in an intellectual milieu. His parents' home was a meeting place open to friends from the worlds of theatre, literature and the arts. He later relocated to Los Angeles, where he has been a resident since 1976. Berberian studied art in both Lebanon and the United States; and he received a degree in journalism with honors in 1980. He has participated in individual and group exhibitions throughout the United States, Canada, Europe and the Middle East.

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Gin Stevens’ art career began the day he was abandoned on the steps of a Baptist Church. Gin has been influenced by the deep southern culture that surrounded him at an early age. At the tender age of 17, he journeyed north to Chicago, carrying with him dreams of The Art Institute of Chicago. He soon found out that school was not for him and opted for the punk rock theory of DIY (do it yourself). Gin now resides in Los Angeles where his work has been shown in galleries for the past several years.

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Jason Houchen After graduating with a BFA from the University of Missouri, Jason Houchen moved to Los Angeles where he became highly influenced by folk, street and lowbrow art scenes.  Since then he has developed a style that mixes his Midwest influences with these newly found worlds.  His artwork and style continue to drastically change and grow as he discovers more influences, techniques, and styles in his new setting.  His work mixes a classic folk art feeling with a surreal world that conveys his current questions and newly found answers about life and the world surrounding him. 

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Jack Howe lives in Santa Cruz, CA. A self-taught assemblage artist, he attended three years of high school where instead of exemplary work he did expletory work. His works are narrative pieces encoded with antique bits and pieces that tell a story, reflecting his appreciation of decay. Howe has exhibited throughout the US. In Los Angeles, he has shown at Patricia Correia, Don O’Melveny Gallery and La Luz de Jesus since the early 1990s. His work has appeared in major and independent films and is part of numerous corporate and private collections.

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Joe Girandola’s work focuses on relegated technologies and materials as he investigates the destructiveness of a society in the most troubling of times. Duct tape bandages surround Styrofoam carvings representing a “quick fix” society. Twisting castaway eyeglasses into makeshift weapons, Girandola attempts to focus an American societies fascination with violence. Girandola received his BA in Studio Art from Pepperdine University, Malibu, CA in 1992 and his MFA in Sculpture from University of Georgia, Athens, GA in 1996.

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Chris Goodman was born in the UK and currently lives in London. He received his BA Fine Art Painting from the University of Brighton. The drawings included in this exhibition are part of an ongoing project to use a variety of media to create a complex fantasy narrative peopled by an assortment of bizarre characters in an increasingly stylized world. Adapting the methods and conventions used by modern Cinema production, He designs characters, locations and scenarios to inhabit a world that follows no traditional linear plot. 

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Eduardo Benedetto Born in the Philippines, Eduardo Benedetto moved to Jersey City, New Jersey at the age of 8. Benedetto’s art illustrates his personal experiences and concerns of isolation. His work responds to issues that preoccupy his thoughts. Benedetto uses the process of making art to identify and put ideas into motion. “In this sense, my artwork is an important experimental part of my life.” Benedetto currently resides in Los Angeles.

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Eliana Dominguez is a fine artist and graphic designer based in Los Angeles. She received a BFA in Graphic Design with honors from the Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, California. Her work has been exhibited at Concepto Gallery in Brooklyn, 825 Gallery in Santa Monica and most recently at Metro Gallery in Silver Lake.

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Lorenzo Moran was born in Rockford, Colorado, and grew up in Los Angeles, California. He began drawing as a young child, encouraged by his mother and uncle’s creativity.  His work has been dramatically influenced by time spent in prison. Whilst incarcerated, he honed his ability to render his subjects. Moran is currently a tattoo artist by profession and continues to draw. His drawings are exemplary example of American “prison art”.

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Drew was born and raised in Los Angeles. His first exposure to art was in 1983 through the “Breaking Generation’s” graffiti movement. He began with tagging and eventually moved onto drawings and murals. In 1987, Drew left the graffiti art movement for gangs. Drew spent time in juvenile hall and prison. While incarcerated, Drew would trade his drawings for food and general hygiene products. Drawing was a pastime, “an escape from the here and now.” All his artwork in the exhibition was created during his 13 years in prison. Drew is currently a Drug and Alcohol counselor and continues to draw and do legal drawings on walls.

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Man One's bold and colorful murals and paintings have pioneered the evolution of graffiti as an art form.  His artwork has been exhibited in several museums, including the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, California and Parco Museum in Tokyo, Japan. Man One's commercial commissions include murals for MTV, ESPN, Adidas, Sony and the Metro Transit Authority.  His illustrations have appeared in various publications including the best-selling “Graffiti World” art book, New York Magazine and the Washington Post. Man One is also the founder and director of Crewest Gallery, the premiere street/underground art gallery in Downtown’s Gallery Row District of Los Angeles.


Vyal began painting graffiti art in the late 80’s, having been heavily influenced by the murals in and around his native East Los Angeles. Vyal quickly took to the art aspects of graffiti. Early into his career as an artist, Vyal began receiving attention from his peers in graffiti, but also from galleries who were interested in showing Vyal’s work. Over 15 years later Vyal has had over 30 gallery shows including exhibitions at The Museum of Contemporary Art and The Orange County Contemporary Center for the Arts, and has traveled around the world exhibiting and selling his art. Vyal’s work has been published in books and magazines throughout the world and has also done work with major corporations such as Coca-Cola, MTV, SCION and lectured in major universities such as UCLA, UC Irvine and Cal State Berkley.


Werc Born in Ciudad Juarez and raised in El Paso, Texas, Werc knows the subtle complexities of a border town. He often draws inspiration from the border, bringing light to sights some would rather avoid. Werc uses a mixed media approach with a broad use of diversified materials. Werc found a voice through graffiti at an early age, which propelled him to believe in himself and his capabilities. Werc now resides in Los Angeles where he continues to pursue his artistic goals.



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Sam Saga “Cigarette buds to count Prison Days"
In April of 1982, my father was sentenced to a Soviet prison in Armenia for an alleged bribery. This installation uses cigarette buds to document the number of days my father spent in prison.

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Prison Art - rare pieces from Soviet prisons made in the 1970's and 80's.

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Black Maria Gallery is locted at:

3137 Glendale Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90039

Gallery Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 12-6 pm or by appointment.

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