Unforgettable wounds

Variaciones de una cicatriz (Variations of a scar) which opened Thursday night at the Museo de Arte here in Juarez brings together the art of twenty-two women who explore a word just as often used metaphorically as physically. It is fair to say that all of us have scars of one sort or another. We  either have physical scars as the  result of an accident or an operation or a metaphorical scar as the result of an interaction with another person, often a person we once thought we loved.
The majority of the work in this show uses photography as a base which can then be manipulated, or added to, with writing, or collages or layers in other medium. In many cases the work is composed of a series of  photographs designed to be viewed as a part of a larger whole. The idea of the show was to explore individual approaches to the indelible marks left by scars and while photography seems to be the favored medium, the approaches to the theme vary widely. Tania Anchondo shows a series of scar forms in nature-fissures cutting into the earth, long lines leaving impressions on the soft dirt. Angelica Chavez Blanco exhibits a series of round photographs on linen which show bright scar shapes composed of various colors superimposed on a female form.


In a work titled Nostalgia, Izabela Oldak features a nude woman curled in a fetal position lying in a round earthen depression.

fotor_147474381657690.jpg Marilu Rios Guerrero uses straight forward photography to show images composed of earth and menstrual blood. Blood is also  represented in Anakyrina Marin’s video Cicactriz number 1 El Ecuador. Galia Mirscha contributes  sounds of human voices, street noises and other elements in a nine minute recording.
I left thinking that taken as a whole the show was fine and the individual pieces were very well made  but that though obviously deeply felt there was something  a little distanced, a little vewed from afar about much of it, but then I remembered that a scar is not the violent act, it is not the betrayal, but rather the mark from  the violence; from  the betrayal which the skin and the mind are unable to completely cover over. A scar is the  permanent reminder seared into the body regardless of how much time has elapsed or with how much objectivity or perspective one tries to view the matter, and perhaps the seeming distance is simply a sort of necessary anesthesia.
The show is up through the whole month of October with the possibility of an extension.-david sokolec

New Director for El Paso Museum of Art

The El Paso Museum of Art has finally selected a new Director. Hesse McGraw comes from  the San Francisco Institute of Art where he was Vice President for Exhibitions and Public Programs.He was in charge of its Walter and McBean galleries  which focus on contemporary art, public lectures and community involvement. Prior to that he was chief curator at the Bemis arts center in Omaha where he seems to have done some remarkable things in terms of promoting local arts and extremely creative use of non-traditional spaces.

The more I read about him the more excited and interested I am to see what he is going to be able to do here. He seems to be someone passionate about both contemporary art and community outreach, both of which we desperately need here. He seems to want to push boundaries in terms of exhibitions and to interact with the community at large  as well as help promote local art and artists.

It should prove an interesting appointment.  Although the museum does have works by late 20th century artists, unquestionably its most important holdings are the Kress collection, roughly 15th-18th century European works; Spanish Colonial works, and Tom Lea. So there is certainly a need for a closer look at contemporary work. The question is whether there is an appetite among the broader community for it. This is where a strong educational program and active community involvement comes in. This is  a place where some people seem easily offended by such things as a sculpture of melted guns turned into birds and where a work at a past biennial couldn’t be shown because it was considered too graphic, though the piece showed in Juarez with little comment. Some of the exhibitions McGraw staged in his first years at SFAI would probably raise both eyebrows and blood pressure here which is also something we could definitely use.

The El Paso Museum of Art is unusual in that it is partly public owned and partly private so the director needs a deft hand and perhaps special tap shoes to do the multi-stakeholder shuffle. From everything I’ve read McGraw seems like he could make a dynamic contribution and bring some fresh new blood to the Museum. His appointment starts Oct 10, and I, for one, am really very excited to watch the developments.-david sokolec

Murals for a new Regeneration

In all of the activity surrounding Juan Gabriel’s untimely death, it was nearly forgotten that the city  unveiled the new plaza, which is supposed to be a part of the regeneration of downtown. This is on Mariscal in what used to be either a no go or where else would you go zone depending on your tastes and vices (or lack thereof).In any case as part of this, the collectivos Local 8 and Clavera Studio were hired to paint murtals on buildings fronting the new plaza, and they make a great addition. Here are a few.-david sokolecfotor_147285713098567.jpgfotor_14728572937416.jpgfotor_147285748725210.jpgfotor_147304760546154.jpg

Congratulats to new Dallas Art Museum Director 


Wanted to say congratulations to the new director. It will be interesting to see what new projects are in store for the Dallas Art museum. – david sokolec


I have to make an important correction to yesterday’s post on Fallas de Origen. The talks  I mentioned were actually held yesterday. I’m sorry for any inconvenience, and of course, that I missed them. 

Fallas de Origen-Artists from Colombia

The show Fallas de Origen opens this Friday (July 15) at 7 pm in the Museo de Arte de Juarez with work by Colombian artists in a wide range of media including video, installation and murals, painting among other types.. Curated by Alejandro Luperca Morales, of Proyecto Impala fame, the show’s artists are apparently focusing on some themes which are all too familiar to everyone here in Juarez as well as in Colombia, such as narcowars, problems with housing , and of course some situations which are different such as guerrilla warfare. There was also a desire to break with the usual stereotypes which have been imposed on both places and give a more realistic portrait of  life.
Morales has had extensive experience in Colombia, having studied and shown there as well as his recent residency. So after that residency he arranged for some Colombian artists to come here to show their work.
The piece which gives the show its title (and I want to thank El Diario for this info) was created by Wilson Diaz in 1997 and currently in the collection of the Bank of the Republic of Bogota. It recreates a house  with televisions instead of windows and a garden with cocoa plants instead of the usual garden flowers. It is being recreated here but, (and I find this hysterical,) since there is a legal ban in Mexico on transporting or exhibiting cocoa plants, the “garden” will not be like the original which had 100 cocoa plants, but will have plots of earth.
Although the show itself opens at 7, there are two presentations beforehand. The co-curators TRansHistor(ia) will talk about their work at 4 pm and at 5  the artists will present their portfolios and will have a conversation about their work.
This should be a great show and we don’t get to see enough art from Latin America and especially Colombia which has a rapidly developing important contemporary art scene. So this is a wonderful opportunity to see some exciting work by some committed contemporary Colombian artists.-david sokolec



Celebrating Picasso

From all I´ve read, nobody celebrated Picasso as much as he celebrated himself, but the El Paso Museum of Art has two complementary shows which do their part.
From the Nelson-Atkins museum in Kansas City, Missouri comes a large show of black and white photographs of Picasso at home and in his studio starting in the mid-50’s  by war photographer David Douglas Duncan.
Duncan met Picasso in the mid ’50s, and they immediately hit it off to such an extent that he was invited to Picasso’s summer home in the south of France and allowed to document domestic life there and later in other places. There are photos of Picasso in his bathtub,  photos with Jacqueline Roque, his current wife , and other scenes of Picasso in his studio as well as with notables such as  Jean Cocteau.
These are large well detailed prints, though it should be noted they are ink jet prints rather than  the silver prints which would have been made at the time they were photographed.  These were printed in 2013 and donated to the museum  which has sent them out for everyone’s enjoyment. For those who are interested in this more intimate view of Picasso this is a great show.
Along with these photos, the El Paso museum has put on a display of international publicity posters for Picasso shows over the decades. This has been shown before, but it makes a nice companion piece, and there are some posters I don’t remember having seen such as the poster for an Italian exhibition from the 50’s which uses as an image  ¨Guernica¨ – an amazing choice for a country which just ten years before had been  on the other side. There are posters Picasso made to promote events in the town where he lived as well as posters by galleries which were holding exhibitions of his work.
I should mention that in the exhibit next door in the De Wetter gallery there is a Picasso print (which appears to have been printed backwards.)
Interestingly in the main hall, and seemingly unrelated to the show is a canvas owned by the museum by Francois Gilot, who, one might say, endured Picasso somewhat earlier. I don’t know if this was left up for the show as its been there awhile, but after looking at all the pictures of Picasso and Jacqueline, it’s a little nod to a previous  romance and a somewhat stormier time
-david sokolec