milton davis and vickie uyeda common ground

Last Updated on April 9, 2021

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Images: (left)  John Wayne  by Vickie Uyeda; (right)  Kusama  by Milton Davis

Images: (left) John Wayne by Vickie Uyeda; (right) Kusama by Milton Davis

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The Main presents Milton Davis and Vickie Uyeda: Common Ground—an exhibition pairing the work of two L.A. artists whose practices together span more than 80 years. The exhibition highlights the complex paintings, drawings, and ceramics of Milton Davis (b. 1949) and Vickie Uyeda (b. 1958) which feature subjects ranging from serene depictions of the natural world to portraiture with a playful emphasis on pop culture. 

Davis’s work, which is often tightly patterned with lines and circles, pulls inspiration from textile and folk art as well as the African diaspora. Uyeda’s sumptuous, expressive paintings use color in unexpected ways and–in their layered richness–possess a tactile quality. Through her lens, such well-known figures as John Wayne and Dennis Rodman transcend conventional depictions, appearing sinister or heroic, respectively. And as with all of Uyeda’s subjects, these men return the viewer’s gaze with an unnervingly, penetrating stare.

All works in the exhibition were created during the artists’ time working with the adult art program at the Exceptional Children’s Foundation (ECF)—a pioneering 72-year-old L.A. nonprofit dedicated to creating artistic opportunities for individuals with special needs and developmental disabilities. Both Davis and Uyeda have been active for decades in the ECF Art Centers Program. As ECF’s longest participating artist, Davis has spent five days a week for the last 50 years honing his practice at the organization’s South L.A. and Westside Art Centers. Uyeda has participated in the ECF Art Centers since 2004 and also devotes five days a week to artmaking.

Image (left to right): ECF’s Program Supervisor Eugenia Barbuc, artist Vickie Uyeda, The Main’s director Allison Agsten, artist Milton Davis, and The Main’s curatorial associate Monica Rodriguez looking at Milton’s and Vickie’s work at ECF

Image (left to right): ECF’s Program Supervisor Eugenia Barbuc, artist Vickie Uyeda, The Main’s director Allison Agsten, artist Milton Davis, and The Main’s curatorial associate Monica Rodriguez looking at Milton’s and Vickie’s work at ECF

Working on this exhibition prompted The Main to more closely consider how its offerings could be made more accessible to people of all abilities. To that end, The Main is working with ECF and other partners to learn about and implement better accessibility measures throughout the museum. Visitor resources for this exhibition include audio guides in Spanish and English, artworks mounted at comfortable viewing heights for greater accessibility, and exhibition materials offered in larger type and with enhanced contrast for increased legibility. Programming throughout the run of the show will focus on accessibility and will include verbal description and ASL programs.

About Milton Davis

Milton Davis was born in 1949 in Fordyce, AR, and now lives and works in Inglewood, CA. He practices at the Exceptional Children’s Foundation Westside Art Center and has been developing a prodigious body of work for 52 years. Davis works primarily in pen and ink and his technique can be described as draftsmen like. He uses repetitive lines to create pattern, shape, and figures. He pulls from a strong visual language of African American art, media, and a surreal imagination. His work is meticulous, utilizing a fine line that references geography, wood grain, and a meditative state of making.

About Vickie Uyeda

Vickie Uyeda is a Japanese American artist whose creative practice has been supported by the Exceptional Children’s Foundation Art Centers program since 2004. She comes from a family of artists and began drawing when she was 8 or 9 with the encouragement and mentorship of her father. She loves cherry blossoms because they symbolize her Japanese heritage. She remembers her mother telling her that cherry blossoms happen only in the morning and at night. She enjoys painting animals, landscapes, nature scenes, geysers, and waterfalls. She’s inspired by the works of Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelo. Her paintings explore gesture, color, and abstraction and are highly process driven. Her work reflects her handling and accumulation of paint from her desk to a given surface, her worn brushes, and her sense of humor. Uyeda also loves to cook and plans on one day producing a cookbook. She enjoys learning how to prepare food, but appreciates eating the food she prepares more.

About the Exceptional Children’s Foundation

ECF was founded in 1946 by a group of parents and community activists who sought to establish a day training program as an alternative to institutional care for individuals with developmental disabilities. Over the years, ECF’s services expanded to meet the changing needs of its target population. The agency successfully developed and implemented early intervention programs for infants and toddlers, as well as residential, work, and day programs for adults. In 2008, ECF merged with Kayne Eras Center (KEC), adding a K‐12 school and a comprehensive Mental Health Program to its services. Today, with an annual operating budget of $27 million and 375 staff, ECF serves approximately 4,000 children, adults, and their families at 15 ECF service sites, in clients’ homes, and in community settings throughout L.A. County.