Juarez blessed with arts this week

I feel like I need to clone myself this week because there are so many overlapping events I can’t see them all unless I’m my own double.
Beginning last Thursday and running through this Thursday (20) is the amazing “Ambulante-gira de Documentales.”. This yearly collection of documentary films from around the world tours various States of Mexico, and this week it is here. Mostly concerned with issues of social concerns in all of its forms it brings some remarkable films, most of which are free. Included are well-known, though too little seen films like Last Men in Aleppo, about the doctors who stayed in that city during the bombing, but there are also unknown fims and various series on different films  like a series of shorts I saw the other day about migration in all of its forms told from a child’s point of view. I was particularly moved by a film of a young boy from Syria who was missing his father still in Syria. There are director’s talks and a series of workshops. This Wednesday night there is an outdoor  screening of “Ovarian Psycho” about a group of women (Ovarian Psycho Bicycle Brigade)  who use bicycles  to take back streets of Los Angeles. This film at 8:00 will be preceded by a bicycle tour starting from La Rodadora led by Punto de Lanza and beginning at 6.
So in  addition to all of  these films, there is also the Siglo de Oro drama festival on both sides of the border which this year brings troupes from Spain, Canary Islands and Mexico City. These are all free.
Tuesday at 5 there is a free lecture about Carla Rippey’s remarkable exhibition at the Museo de Arte, and of course there are the usual goings on like the weekly c”Charla Fotografia” which features a talk on a different aspect of photography every week.

It’s a good week to be here, I just wish there were more of me.-David  sokolec

 

Carla Rippey-Rememberance of Times Past

Carla Rippey shows what can be accomplished when great skill, willingness to experiment and unity of vision combine. Her superb retrospective called “Resguardo y Resistencia 1976-2016 currently on view at the Museo de Arte de Ciudad Juarez takes us on a journey through the past, or rather a journey through many different pasts as well as to dreamscapes and to other worlds by means of a variety of techniques often built on a solid foundation of drawing and printing skills.
Rippey was born in Kansas City, but has lived and worked in Mexico since the 1970’s. In 2013 she was named director of “La Esmeralda” (Escuela Nacional de Pintura,Escultura y Grabado), the first woman ever named to that position, and this retrospective perhaps is an indication of why she was selected.
It presents a unity of theme which is not so much a linear stroll down memory lane as a wash of impressions and images which creates a sense of the past as well as a concern with the female form. This show feels a bit like those images which flit through one’s brain just before waking or just before drifting off to sleep.
Maybe I’m going on a bit too much about this or maybe it is a result of the wonderful large prints from the series called “Esclavos del Sueno” (Slaves of the dream) which poses a languorous figure, often nude,surrounded by imagined landscapes- the whole filled with somnolence and other lands and time. Like most of the prints in the show these are in black and white which adds a sense of out of time and place.
In some cases her concern with the female figure leads her to create highly detailed portraits, while in other instances she has applied thinner to a face drawn on a sheet of newsprint which erases part of the detail, contributing to the unreality. The show includes a pillow book she has drawn which seems like a scene from a telenovela, as well as other little books and fold out creations. She has appropriated old post cards from Cambodia placed on vintage material for a series called Turista.
One whole wall is given over to her judicious selection of archival photos from Nebraska, where her own ancestors came from, and Mexican archives with photos from around the time of the Mexican Revolution. There is one photo from 1914 which shows US troops from Nebraska camped on the Mexican border, this in a nod perhaps to referencing her own personal history.
Some retrospectives concentrate on how an artist has chaqnged technique from realism to abstraction for example, or how a change of media. This show despite a plethora of techniques seems to show a continuity of theme and purpose. It also shows the power inherent in skilled draftsmanship.
It takes a show like this to remind one of what power there can be found in pure technical skill combined with a willingness to invent, and an idea to explore. It makes so much of what is often on view seem like the gawdy trinkets of a two-bit street hustler.-david sokolec

New Space at Museo de Arte

Tomorrow, Thursday 23, the Museo de Arte in Juarez is opening a new space dedicated to promoting local, national and international artists who deal in new media. Called Antecamara de proyectos it will be inaugurated by a film called Reflexiones en Torno al Cielo by Mexico City based artist Alexandra German who will be attending the opening, and curated by Victoria Vinamaragui.
Here is the description in Spanish from the museum. Looks like a wonderful new addition.
Antecámara de Proyectos del Museo de Arte de Ciudad Juárez tiene el enfoque de promover y difundir la producción y consumo de arte actual y nuevos medios. A partir de curadurías y diseños de exhibición que nazcan desde el museo. Antecámara es una sala alternativa que se logra dentro de una dinámica de rotación de artistas locales, nacionales e internacionales, para así lograr alcanzar mayores públicos.
the opening is set for 6 pm.-david sokolec

Carla Rippey- Resguardia y Resistencia

I am really looking forward to the opening of Carla Rippey’s retrospective  at the Museo de Arte here in Juarez this Friday night. Rippey is the current director of “La Esmeralda”(La Escuela Nacional de Pintura,Escultura y Grabado) and the first woman to hold that position. Although born in Kansas City, she has lived in Mexico since 1973, having fled Chile after the fall of Salvador Allende.
The exposition, covering the years 1976-2016, recently opened at the Museo de Arte Carillo Gil and from all I can gather  it seems a magnificent show which not only demonstrates her extraordinary skill at interweaving photography and printmaking among other artistic talents, but also, and more importantly, shows her interest in preserving her personal memory, exploring the female and cultural cross-currents.
Should be an incredible show ,particularly for those interested in print making and drawing  but also anyone interested in seeing the workl of this important and involved artist.
The opening is set for Friday 17th at 7 pm.
I also want to mention there is still time to see the show Encuentro de Mujeres Artistas at Alianza Francesa. Thirteen local artists combined forces to show 30 pieces in various media. The work shows just some of the remarkable talent here in Juarez, and the wide range of subject matter and media used. It includes a video, and a wonderful installation in a nook just inside the entry which combines music with shell forms hanging from the ceiling into each one of which is delicately inserted a drawing.
The show continues through April 10. -david sokolec

 

 

 

Exceptional African American prints at EPMA

San Antonio art collectors Harmon and Harriet Kelly have put together an extremely impressive collection of African-American art. If they had collected nothing more than the works on view at the El Paso Museum of Art, they would have still made an impressive accomplishment. These works on paper  can be viewed in any number of ways, all of them satisfying.
The exhibit ranges from the late 1800’s to 2002 and does a pretty good job of providing a cross-section of important artists during that time. Most of these artists studied at prestigious art schools in the US and abroad, and many travelled extensively . One question raised by the exhibit is why aren’t these artists better known?
The early works by artists like Grafton Tyler Brown (1841-1918) who spent most of his life in Canada  or Lois Maillou Jones (1905-1998) or Henry Ossawa Tanner(1859-1937) who studied with Thomas Eakins at the Pennsylvania Academy and then went on to spend most of his life in France generally focus on purely aesthetic concerns whether a shipwreck off the coast of Brittany or a ranch in western Canada. These are   highly skilled and well trained artists.
There is a shift a bit later with the rise of the Harlem Renaissance and with a general trend by many artists to focus on the society and social conditions around them. Although white artists like George Bellows and photographers like Walker Evans or Dorothea Lange have long been much better known, the skill and perception of an artist like Aaron Douglas (1899-1979) known as the Dean of the Harlem Renaissance among others makes us want to see more.
Although Europe was often a favorite place for these artists to live and study, a few also went to Mexico. Elizabeth Catlett (1915-2012) and Hale Aspacio Woodruff  (1900-1980) were among those who found inspiration in that country. Woodruff in fact  worked with Diego Rivera on murals.
The newer pieces in the show are generally far more overtly political, some using humor others straight-forward.
The Kelleys apparently started collecting this art when they saw a show and were somewhat embarrassed they were not very familiar with many of the artists. Their gain is also our gain in this excellent exhibition which can be seen purely from the point  of view of aesthetics as there are a wide variety of printing techniques employed and a wide variety of artistic skill at play, or  it can be seen as a socially relevant show documenting African -American life and concerns over a century or it can be seen as at long last bringing to view some extremely talented artists who are not nearly as well known as they should be at least to much of the general public. This show helps to rectify that situation.
It is free and on view until April 16.-david sokolec

 

 

 

 

Reimagining the City

The informative (Re)imaginando el Ciudad desde el borde (reimagining the city from the edge) conference last week here in Juarez gave us a chance to learn about the intensive work so many artists, writers, architects and culture workers were doing to actively engage the community in an attempt to reconnect us all with the strength and beauty found here in the city whether that meant through the strength of its people, or through the beauty of some of its old buildings or through preserving its literary history.

In some cases that specifically means going to the oldest colonia in Juarez and working with the local residents to teach them about the value of the adobe homes which are still (barely) standing, as well as giving workshops on helping kids make their own adobe. It’s interesting how highly valued adobe homes are in say Sante Fe, NM and how little valued they seem to be here. In other cases it means making a literary cartography of the city and taking a large group of us on a tour of sites used in the work of well-known authors as well as making sure their wroks are preserved. Sometimes it means holding weekly seminars on skills such as phtography where people can exchange info and learn techniques which can then be used in documenting daily life in ever-changing Juarez, and above qall it means honoring and celebrating all of the diverse groups of people who live here.

This was the second year of the conference and perhaps it should better be called (Re)descubriendo el ciudad… (Rediscovering the city) because in many ways it was as much about discovering what has been here all along as it was about reinventing the city, but in either case it was a wonderful event and congratulations are due the Coordinacion de Artes Visual de UACJ and coordinators like Brenda Ceniceros and everyone else who worked so hard to make this happen.-david sokolec

Active arts week on the border

This is a busy week for arts and cultural enthusiasts on both sides of the border. This Wednesday begins a 3 day event in Juarez called 2ndo encuentro(re) imaginando la ciudad desde el borde. This amazing event brings together artists, architects, writers, photographers etc to make presentations and interchange ideas on reimagining the city, and on the events and activities they are currently providing. There are a large number of individuals who tirelessly work to help the city and those of us who live in it, and this is a great opportunity to become acquainted with some of them. This is the second year for this event which is sponsored by coordinacion artes visual UACJ and organized by my frind Brenda Ceniceros and others. Info and schedule can be found on their facebook page.

Thursday night in El Paso brings a night of prints.

Christian Casteneda who has been the featured artist at Proyecto Impala, and therefore been touring various locations and schools in Juarez to show his work, will be holding a print demonstration sponsored by Proper print shop at 601 N. Oregon. (note the address; this is in the new Artspace lofts building). The event is at 7 pm.

Finally, but certainly not least, there is the opening of an exhibition of prints at the Purple pop-up gallery. These have been curated by the tireless Karl Whittaker, who has selected new prints from some of the artists he recently showed a the El Paso Museum of Art as well as some additional artists working in Mexico. -david sokolec