Transborder Biennial Art Exhibit

Big thanks to Glasstire for this note about the upcoming Transborder biennial art exhibit call for entries because when I look on the EPMA site I can find  absolutely no mention. Perhaps the operative word is soon , as in they will soon send out a call for entries. Glad to see this biennial is being continued, and as the note says will be held next year.
On an entirely different topic I am also pleased to see that Google , at least here in Mexico, is honoring the 121st birthday of Tina Modotti.-david sokolec

Busy end of week on the border

Lots of art activity in the next couple of days. Opening tomorrow Thursday August 10) at the Rubin Center is Erika Harrsch’s show Under the Same Sky We Dream, a video and sound installation focusing on immigrant children crossing the border specifically from Juarez to El Paso . Also opening is a show of drawings and a hand drawn animation by Suzi Davidoff which concerns itself with human made changes in the natural world order ( to give an oversimplified version of the complexity of her concerns)
Also on Thursday over at the Centro de Los Trabajadores Agricolas Fronterizos, 201 E.  9th Ave,  Make America Great Again:  Doors Not Walls features art work from La Mujer Obreara youth group and ICE detainees from Otero County prison which details their individual journeys as part of a series of workshops   led by Haydee Alonzo. The opening is from 6-8 and will also feature music by Frontera Bugalu and food.
On Saturday Fablab hosts Expanded featuring augmented reality murals by well-known local artists including Los Dos, WERC, Jesus Cimi, Nani Chacon and others. This is from 4-10 and includes music, and food.
Over in Juarez I want to mention the State theater festival that has been going on all week. Last night I saw  a  production by Compania Strongylus of a play called Pelones y Pelucas which did a brilliant job of blending farce and history and a huge dose of audience interaction into an incredible production. All plays are free and every night I’ve gone the theater has been packed. This is in the smaller Octavio Trias theater at Centro Cultural Paso del Norte.
I also want to mention coming up on August 17th is Edible Carnival, an installation over at the Museo de Arte in Juarez.- David Sokolec

All Along the Watchtower 


Francisco Mata Rosas (b Mexico City) tends to focus his lens on those people and places  usually marginalized in order to give them, if not a voice, at least an opportunity to be seen. A few years ago the Museo de Arte here in Juarez mounted a show of his series Tepito (Bravo el Barrio) in which he photographed residents of that somewhat notorious Mexico City barrio with excellent professional lighting against a white backdrop in order to afford each of them a dignity and recognition which they perhaps rarely receive from others.
In the series called “La Linea” which opened last Friday night at the Museo de Arte de Ciudad Juarez, he has focused on the border. For five years he has focused his attention on the border using his camera to capture some of the people and reality of the line between Mexico and the United States through a variety of means including a drone.
The photographic images, which are presented here without informational cards, take varied forms and sizes from more or less standard size photographs to landscapes that take up a whole wall. Here, as in his other series, he focuses on those who are often ignored or shunned, including  drug addicts as well as those who are doing the best they can in difficult circumstances. Many of the photographs focus on the detritus left behind by those attempting to cross from one side to the other or on some of the absurdities inherent in a situation in which those desperate to escape difficult situations bump up against the implacable forces which attempt to deter them.
The photography is wonderful, Francisco Mata has a keen sensibility and a sharp eye for the often overlooked and the small things which can imply much more, so why did the show leave me somewhat dissatisfied even while I admired the individual pieces?
There is a scene in Alain Resnais 1959 film  Hiroshima Mon Amour, which concerns both the destruction of Hiroshima and an affair  between a Japanese architect and a French actress , in which she says something like “When I  was in Hiroshima…” and he responds “You were never in Hiroshima.” (This despite the fact the film is set in Hiroshima). This kept playing in my head as I was wandering around the exhibit because unfortunately many people who live outside the border region probably believe these images constitute the totality of the border region. Many people tend to view the place as a wild and marginalized area consisting mostly of nothingness and desperate people trying to cross over or the very poor scrambling to get by.  While that is clearly are an integral part of the border, it is only a part.  Those of us who live here know that the border is an enormously dynamic place. There is a huge amount of trade and commerce which happens daily, there are universities and arts and a rich cultural mix which creates a distinctive culture. Despite a general misconception, the border is not simply  bicultural but  is filled with people from a wide variety of cultures. In Juarez alone there are people from an enormous number of  countries as well as many different indigenous groups. The number of languages spoken is enormous even though this isn’t often realized in daily life. I’ve been thinking lately that the border is a bit like the Nile in that there is a large swath of desert spreading out from either side, while along the banks or la linea  a distinctive and rich culture has sprung up on both sides.
The excellent photographs in this exhibition show an integral and important part of that culture, but it is important to remember that it is only a small part of the much larger and much more varied world this border forms.
For those who cannot see the show in person Francisco Mata’s website (Francisco Mata.com.mx) provides an even more complete selection of photos, though of course they are better seen in person, particularly for the variety of forms and sizes they take.

The exhibition runs through October 15.-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

 

Texas Biennial open to Mexican Artists

I just learned about the open call for the  Texas Biennial today(Thank you Kerry Doyle) so I’m calling attention to it  for artists on both sides of the border.  As is noted it’s open not only to artists living in Texas but also within ten miles of the border including Mexico. In addition the curator is Mexico City based Leslie Moody Castro. Note the $30 entry fee, but also that there is a stipend if your work is accepted. The deadline is at the end of the month so get on it. -d sokolec

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