Stairwell LA

Stories that Move

September 11, 18 and 25

Big City Forum presents Stories that Move in collaboration with Stairwell LA and artist collaborators Leonardo Bravo, Reina Imagawa, Jeremy Rosenberg, and Cynthia Vargas.

During this month-long free online series, Leonardo Bravo facilitates the exchange of ideas by bringing attention to the intersection between artists, culture makers, and social justice.

Past Events:

Lilliana Castro
Friday, September 11 at 4pm on Zoom

Lilliana Castro is a multidisciplinary designer based in Los Angeles, California. As a feminist, lesbian, and activist with a grassroots and punk-rock approach, her design projects center around empowering Queer, Trans, Black, Indigenous and People of Color (QTBIPOC). Lilliana was born in San Salvador, El Salvador and immigrated to the U.S. in ‘89. Her design journey began at Pasadena City College (PCC), and graduated from the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc) in 2008. In 2010 she founded Archeffect Design, to unite her passion for graphic design and architecture, on the premise that the role of the designer is a facilitator rather than an expert. Lilliana prioritizes giving back to her community as part of her design journey through uplifting others. Her work has been experienced at the Architecture + Design Museum ‘Come In Les Femmes’, the Coachella Music & Arts Festival 2012, EDC Las Vegas 2013, Coachella Music & Arts Festival 2014, and most recently the 1st place award winner of the Yes to ADU Design Competition in Los Angeles to alleviate the humanitarian crisis of homelessness.

Chinwe Okona
Friday, September 18 at 4pm on Zoom

Chinwe Okona is a multidisciplinary artist and actor based in Los Angeles, California. Her work investigates the palpability of sentiment, nostalgia, and forgiveness, and centers self-documentation as the implement of memory creation. She graduated from Oberlin College in 2013 and is currently attending the USC Marshall School of Business. More recently she has exhibited at Limited Space Gallery, Office & Space Gallery, and Charlie James Gallery in Los Angeles, as well as the MexiCali Biennial 2018 - 2020.

Susan Silton
Friday, September 25 at 3pm

Susan Silton is an interdisciplinary artist based in Los Angeles, California. Her projects respond to resonant political and social landscapes, often through poetic combinations of humor, discomfort, subterfuge and unabashed beauty. These projects mine the complexities of subjectivity and subject positions in a range of media, including performative and participatory-based works, photography, video, installation, text/audio works, and offset lithography. Her work has been exhibited/presented nationally and internationally at Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; SFMOMA, San Francisco; Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects; LAXART, Los Angeles; Hammer Museum; ICA/ Philadelphia; MAK Center for Art and Architecture, Los Angeles; and Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne, among others.

Carmen Argote

July 17 - August 22

Dog Glove Hand

Exhibiton Gallery

Glove Hand Dog
Commonwealth and Council

Hand Dog Glove

Big City Festival "Stories that Move"

July 31 - August 2 at 2PM (PST)
Instagram Live@BigCityForum

Big City Forum brings together culture makers, activists, change agents, and creative visionaries to explore the role of art in building a strong democracy and collaboratively shaping a better future.

This pilot program will highlight the power of stories to heal, transform, and catalyze our actions towards a new sense of knowledge making as we encounter tremendous personal and collective upheavals due to the pandemic. Stories that Move is a collaboration with Stairwell LA and artist collaborators Leonardo Bravo, Reina Imagawa, Jeremy Rosenberg, and Cynthia Vargas.

Friday Christopher Rivas
Saturday Natalie Patterson
Sunday Bianca Nozaki-Nasser

Sunday 4 - 6PM (PST)
Music by Bruja Prieta and Baby Bruise


Dog Glove Hand
Carmen Argote
July 17th–August 22nd, 2020

Stairwell LA presents Dog Glove Hand, an exhibition of recent work by Carmen Argote showing across three spaces: Commonwealth and Council, Clockshop, and Stairwell. Conceived during the shelter-in-place order in Los Angeles, Dog Glove Hand continues Argote’s process-based investigations of her surroundings as artist, dweller, and flaneux.

The oil blot prints in Dog Glove Hand, stem from her desire to reanimate through depiction coincides with a deep need to find the appropriate language, the measure and the time, to recall the spirit—of other beings, as one’s own. Embarking on a series of transfer prints, Argote pressed RXbars (popular for their simple ingredients: egg whites, cashews, almonds, dates) onto paper in an almost linguistic syntax and spacing, marking time spent indoors. The nut oils seeped into the paper, creating abstract blooms which she then traced in crayon. The oil blots continue to spread beyond the traces, indexing the passage of time. Argote likens this seepage to digestion: as the oil absorbs, it gradually weakens the fiber, turning the paper transparent. Autonomic and independent of the artist, the work changes and lives. Oil blots imprinted at different time intervals grow at different rates, creating a polyrhythmic buildup of layers—days, weeks, and months all recorded on a single sheet.

Argote contrasts the RXbar prints with an oil blot work in progress in the Stairwell studio—an evolution to a metalanguage where creatures appear, no longer drawn from memory but hallucinated in the free-association of glyphs and forms now standing in for the outside world.

With the abstracted oleaginous marks, Argote metabolizes foods into their constituent elements like calories, macronutrients, and sodium. More broadly, the protein bar intimate a variety of social dichotomies that undergird the life of the city: individual vs. shared consumption, “smart” snacking vs. junk food, upscale vs. proletarian lifestyle eating. Even sequestered from public view, our lives continue leaving their mark in the street.

In the midst of a pandemic that revealed the imperative of purpose and collective solidarity Stairwell, Commonwealth and Council, and Clockshop with additional support from LACE and the Hammer Museum--have come together to support Carmen Argote's practice.

Glove Hand Dog at Commonwealth and Council

Hand Dog Glove at Clockshop

Events to RSVP for:
Tuesday, July 21st, LAST LIGHT screening and Q&A with Erin Christovale, co-presented by Clockshop and the Hammer Museum
Wednesday, July 22nd, LACE benefit edition reveal and Q&A with Daniela Lieja Quintanar

Carmen Argote (b. 1981, Guadalajara, Mexico; lives and works in Los Angeles) received an MFA in 2007 from University of California, Los Angeles, where she also received her BFA in 2004. Recent solo exhibitions have been held at Visual Arts Center, University of Texas, Austin (2020); New Museum, New York (2019); PAOS, Guadalajara, Mexico (2019); Ballon Rouge Collective, Istanbul, Turkey (2019) and New York (2018); Instituto de Vision, Bogota, Colombia (2018); Panel LA, Los Angeles (2017); and MAK Center for Art and Architecture (2015). Argote has been featured in group exhibitions at SculptureCenter, New York (2019); Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2018); Orange County Museum of Art, Santa Ana (2017); Los Angeles County Museum of Art (2017); Ballroom Marfa, TX (2017); and Denver Art Museum, CO (2017). She is the recipient of the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award (2019); Artadia Los Angeles Award (2019); Rema Hort Mann Foundation Artist Community Engagement Grant (2015); and the California Community Foundation Fellowship for Visual Artists (2013).


Westlake 1891. Courtesy of the Photo Collection, Los Angeles Public Library.

Stairwell is a research based practice and experimental space for the discovery + investigation of art practice located in the Westlake-MacArthur Park area of Los Angeles. Founded in 2020 by artist, curator, and social researcher Cynthia Vargas.

Contact: Cynthia Vargas | 213.700.0700


The Francis Residency

Carmen Argote
Leonardo Bravo