Frida y Diego en Blanco y Negro

There is a reception tonight (Sept 7) at the Franklin Smith Gallery in the Chamizal National Memorial in El Paso for what appears to be a great exhibition of photographs taken of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera.
Sponsored by the Consul General of Mexico in El Paso the show called “Una Sonrisa a Mitad del Camino”features photographs of the daily life of the pair by such luminaries of photography as Edward Weston and Manuel Alvarez Bravo among others.
The reception scheduled for 6 pm will also feature the participation of the group Euterpe Jazz Flamenco.
The exhibition will continue until December 22. -David Sokolec

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Dreams Under Border Skies at Rubin Center

I thought the day the DACA program was rescinded would be a good day to visit Erika Harrsch’s installation Under the Same Sky..We Dream at the Rubin Center.
Before I talk about the show, I want to talk about the flood. No, not that flood, but the one that hit the Rubin Center here in El Paso. It seems the intense rain last Friday completely flooded the first floor of the center. There had been problems during rains before, but this was so bad that everything had to be ripped up and torn out from the small auditorium to the offices. The first floor currently looks like a construction site. Fortunately the main gallery space upstairs was untouched, and the indomitable director Kerry Doyle is currently running her empire from a card table set up in the small corridor between the reception desk and the back room. Here’s hoping that all get repaired soon.
As I said the upstairs gallery is fine and that means one can certainly explore the current exhibions. Erika Harrsch is based in New York, but she has spent a fair amount of time on the border and her work often concerns immigration and border issues. A year or so ago, she set up a huge spinning wheel here in which participants could “win”a North American passport”” which presumably would give one the right to freely cross all borders in North America. Revolutionary concept. Shengen convention anyone?
Here she has done something quite moving.
Hanging from the ceiling and completely stretching from one side of the gallery to the other is a cutout of the US-Mexico border completely filled with a video composed of 35,000 photographs of the sky over the Juarez-El Paso border. This video consisting mainly of shifting cluds is projected on both sides of the cutout. Ducking through this low hanging cutout (well, some probably have to duck, others of us can just fit beneath)brings one immediately to a darkened space filled with the same mats and blankets used in ICE detention centers. On each mat is a “Dreambook” illuminated by an attached reading light, containing the words of the “Dream Act.” From stereo speakers comes the magical voice of Mexican singer Magos Herrera singing those same words and thereby transforming the pure legalize into something truly wonderful. I was vaguely reminded of the practice of singing the words of the Torah, which also transforms what are, at times, purely prosaic words and some fundamental laws into something somehow much greater.
One is encouraged,to sit on the mat, read the book, listen to the words being sung and wafting over the room and then looking up at the shifting clouds projected above and ponder, reflect and perhaps to dream.
This is a deceptively simple, and perhaps precisely because of the simplicity powerfully moving work.
The installation is accompanied by a collection of interviews with various dreamers made by the Santa Fe Dreamers Project. Around the corner from Harrsch’s installation photographers Sylvia Johnson and Kerry Scherck show portaits of dreamers and a short interview with each one in which they discuss their life and hopes and dreams.
The two parts of the show combine perfectly into a profound reflection on an extremely relevant and important issue.
Erika Harrsch and some of the “dreamers”will be holding a panel discussion on September 28 at the show’s closing. It is scheduled for 6 pm, but check with the center for more details. -david sokolec

Great Art Events This Week on the Border

There are some great art events happening this week on the border. Beginning tonight, (Wednesday May 17) at the Museo de Arte here in Juarez ,Carlos Palacios, curator at the Museo de Arte Carillo Gil and curator of the Carla Rippey show currently on exhibit will give a free talk about the show. This is at 7 pm and tomorrow at noon he will lead a guided tour of this extraordinary retrospective.
There are a series of events at the museum this week in honor of International Museum Day culminating in a whole series of activities this Saturday at Un Dia en El Museo.

Friday is the opening of what promises to be a fascinating exhibtion to be shown on both sides of the border. Called “Narradores, Ponte en los Zapatos del Otro” here and more simply “Storytellers” in El Paso it shows the work of 60 students from different schools who present thier videos, and projects as well as interviews in which they talk about their life, hopes and dreams.
This was supported by the US Consulate in Juarez with the participation of some other local organizations and, of course, the assistance of a wide variety of local schools.
The opening in Juarez is this Friday night at Juarez Contemporary Gallery at Calle Omega #1351 at 7 pm. It will be up through the 21.
In El Paso it is scheduled to open on the 25th at The Station Urban Offices 500 W. Overland where it will run through the 28th.
Thursday is also the start of a series of films to be shown pimarily at Cafe Unico and at the Cineteca Nacionale branch at Cultural Centro Paso del Norte. The series is called Apanerowa and concerns indigenous culture and human rights . The  series at Cafe Unico begins at 4 pm .

So there you have some of the things going on here. Don’t tell me there’s nothing to do in Juarez.-dsokolec

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

Plans for a Nuevo Siglo

The folks at Los Paisanos de la Chamizal have an ambitious plan for a new huge Hispanic themed festival designed to bring artists and performers from all over the world as well as the inclusion of local talent in what sounds like a wonderful proposition. They have the support of the City and County of El Paso as well as the National Park Service and are looking for local talent, businesses and people in general to join in. Their website is  at Nuevo Siglo-elpaso.org.

I have to say that one of the things I found exciting when I moved here was the Siglo de Oro theater festival at the Chamizal. Under the leadership of the indefatigable Virginia Ness, theater groups and academics from all over the world came to both sides of the border to perform widely varying interpretations of plays from the Golden Age of Spain. I could never figure out why the city and various arts organizations didn’t use this as an opportunity to join hands and create a citywide, or binational wide, festival which would attract theatergoers from all over a la Spoleto festival in Charleston or the Santa Fe Opera. At last there  seems to be a recognition that a festival bringing together local and national talent to the region would be an enormous boost for the region.I’m not sure the new plan is designed to include the Siglo de Oro festival, which has unfortunately been allowed to dwindle to a pale shadow of its former self, or if , as it appears to be, an entirely new type of festival. In either case, it sounds wonderful and good luck to them.-david sokolec