Since Eduardo Sarabia’s inaugural exhibition in 2001 the artist has set out on a personal quest for gold in the countryside of Mexico. The gold was rumored to have been buried by Pancho Villa in the Mexican Revolution of 1910. Returning to his family in Mazatlan, which is in Mexico’s
northwest state of Sinaloa, Eduardo Sarabia is resuming the search for gold coins that his grandfather Felipe took up some 50 years ago.

Sarabia visited Mazatlan four times armed with a map drawn up in 1950 by Mexican engineers who also sought the gold. To help finance his project, the artist incorporated a small company – the “Pacific Discovery Group of the Americas” – and issued handmade drawings on stock
certificates enabling the bearers to share in a portion of the treasure should it be found.

The stock certificates were the beginning. The resulting show, which opens at I-20 on February 22, is made up of works on paper, sculpture, photographs, video and ceramics surrounding the search for gold that has long existed as Sarabia family lore.

Because of the drug traffic Sinaloa is an unstable region. In order to stay out of trouble, Sarabia’s men disguised themselves as a movie crew for protection, and the artist made a video there. In Lo Quiero Todo (I Want It All) he is seen praying to find the gold at an infamous church built in the memory of Jesus Malverde, once a Robin Hood-style bandit called the “Narcosaint”. The visitors to this unsanctioned church in Culiacan include drug dealers who leave $100 bills strewn on the floor.

Sarabia makes a play of taking what is there and using it in his own way. Bandido Generoso is a series of 50 porcelain coin banks that he made in Guadalajara portraying himself in prayer at Culiacan; but it is impossible to retrieve money from the banks without smashing them.

In the center of the gallery is a seven-foot high fiberglass and wood sculpture, Sierra del Milagro (Mountain of Miracles), with four figures – a policeman, narco, bandit and the artist – holding up a model of Mazatlan’s mountain. All want the same things and different things, and are loved or resented equally in Mazatlan. The figures have identical faces and different garb. You can read the iconography of the tools or weapons slung behind their backs – the artist, with his shovel, wears a “Think Blue” T-shirt that is an homage to his hometown team, the L.A. Dodgers. Elaborate carvings in wood on the sides of the mountain are a peacock and palm trees; Ferrari and Pacifico beer logos; butterflies; kissing swans; and more.

A second sculpture is a giant boulder stamped with “PDGA,” the initials of Sarabia’s company. On the other side, the artist has painted a fanciful flag with his version of the “Sarabia” coat of arms. Works on paper and wall engravings complete the story of the artist’s journey from contemporary Los Angeles to a Mexican past that may or may not exist, but created an experience in real time.

Sierra del Milagro was recently exhibited at the Santa Monica Museum of Art. The artist is currently in “Harlem Postcards 2,” at the Studio Museum in Harlem. Sarabia was born in 1976 in Los Angeles, and educated at the Otis College of Art and Design. He lives and works in Los Angeles and Mexico.

A publication (No.19) will be available. It will include an artist’s interview with Christine Y. Kim, Assistant Curator at the Studio Museum in Harlem; and a text by Ciara Ennis, director of The Project Los Angeles.