Anna Stump is mostly known for her series of oil paintings of "Sexy Jesus," painterly large-scale nudes and flora-inspired pieces done collaboratively with Daphne Hill. Chula Vistan, her solo show on view at Art Produce (3139 University Ave.) in North Park through Sept. 20, reveals a decidedly different side of the artist and educator.
"The work is not specifically about Chula Vista," Stump says, sitting down behind her cappuccino at a café on Third Avenue in Chula Vista, where she grew up. "It's work that I've done over the last seven or eight years... but it was interesting to kind of realize, 'oh yeah, I guess all the work is related to a culture of living in the South Bay.'"
Stump's show includes small-but-detailed paintings of piñatas plastered over ripped-out pages of Spanish-language magazines and books, plus three larger acrylic paintings of piñatas covered in resin. There's a series of drawings of drones on carbon paper, paintings of eagles that look as if they're confined inside boxes, a map of the San Diego-Tijuana border recalibrated, paintings of Mexican men lined up in front of Home Depot and a series of paintings of the back of traditional bust sculptures painted atop Mexican imagery.
"The idea for the bust pieces was dried, old, European culture—white culture—looking at this really vibrant Mexican culture," Stump says. "So there's an old bust looking at luchador wrestling masks and a girl in her colorful quinceanera dress...I think that's really sort of the core of my show...when I was growing up in Chula Vista, I always had this feeling like, I'm so culture-less. I felt this real envy of the vibrancy that I saw all around me."
The small exhibition communicates that outsider-looking-in feeling, while also commenting on the increased militarization of the border. Stump's using the show as the setting for her upcoming South Bay Culture Think Tank dinner happening at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 2 (it's a private event, but those interested can contact the gallery, artproduce.org). She says she wants to kick off a conversation about the lack of arts and culture opportunities in the South Bay.
"I just want to have a discussion, because I don't think there's been many people who've thought about it," she says. "I've really been trying to figure out why that is."