This has been a rare adventure over the last six years to publish The Art Avenue magazine, the only art and culture magazine in the border and establish The Art Avenue Gallery, a contemporary art gallery nestled in a burgeoning arts hamlet downtown showcasing artists from around the Borderplex.
As rare as the adventure was, the time has come to end this avenue and pursue another. The magazine (established in 2013) and gallery (2015) were created in an effort to promote artists and share in the art and cultural projects and issues throughout the region. It has been a privilege exhibiting works from hundreds of artists working in paintings, prints, sculptures, digital photography, poetry and jewelry, always with a focus on proving insight into the diverse cultural landscape that is the Borderland. Surrounded by local artists’ studios, The Art Avenue Gallery also served as a gathering place for neighborhood creatives and makers, hosting coordinated artist workshops and art camps for children to effectively break down the wall between the public and local artists.
The online publication, The Art Avenue will shut down later this year and the gallery will close at the end of the month with a sale of beautiful works from local artists, however I will continue to support the local art scene by cultivating private art collections and showcasing works though the windows in The Mills building in Downtown El Paso. I am continually amazed at the exceptional talents within our region and how oftentimes they go unnoticed. I hope I was able to etch away at the ideology that only great art works exist in metropolitan cities like Santa Fe and New York.
Impacting the art community was a vision supported by the tireless efforts of one of my closest friends and Creative Director, Jorge Calleja. His graphic design skills elevated the publication and gallery pushing an edgy contemporary style, showing color and design that was fresh and forward in the community. For this I am most grateful for the tireless hours he invested. I would also like to thank the many interns who supported The Art Avenue and have gone on to jobs in Germany, Dallas, New York and are prospering in the Borderplex making their own personal stamp in the art world.
An archive of our past posts and publications can be accessed via our archive page.
Two local artists are well received at the El Paso Museum of Art
El Paso’s cache of talented artists is being noticed on a larger scale in the Borderplex.PROCESS AND POETRY: The Graphics of Kim and Terri Bauer is drawing a notable crowd at the El Paso Museum of Art since opening in January of this year.
Continuing the Museum’s commitment to showcase the careers of local artists, this exhibition pairs the husband-and-wife team Kim and Therese (Terri) Bauer; both have devoted their professions to the graphic arts and experimenting with multiple materials and methods. “Kim specializes in printmaking, but combines a lot of different techniques, such as lithographs, screen printing, etching, among other mediums. Terri specializes in drawing, but also combines a lot of different techniques such as graphite, collage and stenciling, “said Patrick Shaw Cable, senior curator at the museum. The title for the exhibition came to Cable when, as he said, he realized he wanted to showcase the multiple styles within their recent works.
There are currently 50 pieces on display in the exhibit and according to their press release, museum coordinators agree ,“both of their bodies of work possess an evocative bridge between representation and abstraction, as well as the treatment of ordinary architecture, objects or figures in a manner that transforms these elements into suggestive glyphs or symbols on the paper support.”
“Viewers will appreciate the suggestive layering and alchemy of visual and material transformations that characterize the works of both these accomplished specialists in the graphic arts of drawing and printmaking,” said Cable.
Kim and Terri Bauer have also mentored numerous students over many years in the Department of Art at the University of Texas at El Paso, where Kim is an associate professor and Terri an advisor and drawing lecturer. The Bauer’s received their BFA degrees from Michigan State University and their MFA degrees from East Michigan University. While Kim and Terri have each exhibited through the years in various group shows at the El Paso Museum of Art, this is the first EPMA exhibition dedicated solely to their work, with a focus on recent production.
The exhibit is on display until June 4 but if you can’t make it, the museum plans on purchasing a few of the works for its permanent collection.
Photos Courtesy of El Paso Museum of Art
PROCESS AND POETRY:The Graphics of Kim and Therese Bauer El Paso Museum of Art On display through June 4, 2017 Didi Rogers Special Events Gallery Elpasoarttmuseum.org 915.212.0300
A closer artistic collaborative community is on the horizon with the opening of the Roderick Artspace Lofts. On Wednesday, the project six years in the making and with the price tag of $12.7 million, opened when 11 of the 51 units became occupied. The tie that binds the occupants of this newly developed facility in Downtown El Paso is that all the tenants are artists.“We have a few musicians, a dancer, painters…and there is a music producer in here,” said Stephanie Ortero, special project director at the El Paso Community Foundation.
Artspace located downtown at Oregon in between Wyoming and Missouri is affordable housing governed by HUD and each tenant applying must meet stringent regulations to earn a spot in the now coveted units. “The residents have to be below 60% of the median income in the city. For an individual that’s about $22,000 and for a couple that’s about $25,200,” said Otero. Rent is expected to range from $200-$800 per month based on a sliding scale.
Donors and supporters toured the space housing 1,2 and 3 bedroom units as well as the El Paso Community Foundation Gallery on the first level—an interchangeable open area where the artists can utilize the space to exhibit their artwork or host performances. Otero said the space also encases commercial opportunities. “There is a series of commercial units that are to be rented to people who are either artists themselves or who support art in the community, and that helps offset the cost of the building.” Musician Jim Ward, Fab Lab, Proper Print Shop and Peter Svarzbein have already taken advantage of this opportunity located next to the gallery and should be moving in throughout January.
The names of the artists accepted into the space could not be released, but officials say there is a waiting list since receiving 125 applications for the 51 units.
Insitu, designers of the space, took into consideration the various art forms practiced by the building’s intended tenants and created additional studio space downstairs with protective sound so artists can practice or make work that creates more noise like metal smithing.
Painter Diego Martinez was chosen as a tenant and says he is looking to help expand the art community in El Paso and feels Artspace is conducive in fostering the relationships between businesses and artists. “The atmosphere at Artspace is like no other. Artspace is such a beautiful experience to be a part, because everyone that has moved in is full of excitement that is profoundly contagious. It has been nothing but a positive and encouraging place, where artist can brainstorm in a comfortable and modern environment in the heart of this city. The artist I have met, are motivated more than ever to tell the story of this region through the creative process and I am looking forward to creating my best work yet,” said Martinez.
Eric Pearson, president of EPCF said the building would be dedicated to Dorrance D. Roderick who was a strong supporter of the arts, “He published the El Paso Times for 45 years, he started KROD-TV, which is now KDBC channel 4, KROD radio, he loved classical music, he supported the El Paso Symphony. He paid its debts every single year so it’s now the longest continuous running symphony in the country. He was a huge supporter of the Community Foundation.”
Land developers Chris Cummings Sr. & Chris Cummings Jr., his wife Michelle Cummings and Katherine Brennand, community and civic patron, offered their leadership and donated the land but deferred having the building named after them.
Roderick Artspace Lofts should be filled by the end of February 2017.For further information please go to http://epcf.org/.
Photos courtesy of: Brian Kanoff and the El Paso Community Foundation
A dark explosion of Amedei Blanco de Criollo chocolate hits your lips and sparks along your palette. The sultry sounds of Evening Star by Cannons plays softly in the background as you take your next bite—the cool, smooth invitation of cream custard with maple flavor candy capped mushroom entices you, revealing an emotional innocence surging from within…an emotion you embrace.
Senses in Sucrose The Art of Emotions in Sweet Form, a culinary artistic book scheduled for release in February, takes unfathomably decadent desserts and transforms them onto 200 pages of photographic exchanges marrying pastries to emotions. The chef, author and photographer, El Paso born and internationally renowned celebrity chef of 19 years, Roberto Cortez created 12 uniquely captivating and intoxicating desserts based on 12 different complex emotions to publish his first book.
“The book will be based on inspirational photos of either people in situations or whatever it is thatis related to that emotion. So people will experience that emotion and from that I have what I call an ingredient page—at that point I marry the food that is connected to it to that emotion. So you will see this ingredient photo that is connecting both of them and then from there I will actually show them the dessert that I created that is that emotion. There is textin the beginning and there is this little barand it will have fragments…the little bar has like five different shades, five different colors and each one of those colors is specific to that emotion and all of the colors of everything in the desert,” said Cortez.
Cortez created Symphonic Euphoria—one of the desserts in the book designed to play on at least three of our emotions as one relates to a song we remember from our childhood or impacted our lives to such an extent that it continues to pull on our emotional chords to this day, challenging our current state of mind.
It’s [Symphonic Euphoria] connected to the symphony but the components of the symphony are many parts and that’s why the eating process of this dish has many parts,” said Cortez
“I designed it so that it’s chocolate based and there are different tools on this specific tray and plate and you taste the chocolate and you eat one of the elements—one of the elements is a Pinot Noir that is reduced by maple syrup wine and pomegranate seeds so that you just taste that, with a special spoon. That spoon was made by Jinhyun Jeon a female designer from South Korea, so when you release the spoon from your mouth, you’re thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, that’s incredible.’ So you have a bite of chocolate, and then you have the other ingredient, and you have all of the flavors and they never mix with each other. It’s always like chocolate and taste that one, and chocolate and taste that one. So it’s a symphonic process of eating.”
Senses in Sucrose: The Art of Emotions in Sweet Form was funded through Kickstarter in less than one month, with 60 backers pledging $9,910 to help bring the project to life. Depending on your level of donation, supporters could receive recipes from the book, an autographed copy, digital images, work with Chef Roberto Cortez for a day at an event, a personal cooking class or photography session, or even a private dinner for eight of your closet friends. Kitchen Arts & Letters, the famed New York City bookstore which carries an impressive collection of wine & culinary themed books, recently offered to carry Cortez’s book.
The catalyst for the book sparked from a project in London where Cortez consorted with some of the best designers and artist from The Royal College of Art. “[It’s] the best art college in the world. Everybody who graduates from the Royal College of Art has these companies, people and designers who want to work with them because you have to be bad ass to get in and you’re super bad ass when you get out,” said Cortez.
If bad ass means you are the premier chef to present in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, then one could say Cortez is bad ass. The directors from the museum heard about the work his group had produced and asked the five creatives to install a dining experience.
Every element of the meal was thoroughly planned out—everything from the design of the spoons and plates to shaping the atmosphere and the feel of the furniture in the room. “This plate had the handle on it –the plate was angled every so slightly on the desk, it was very interactive and curious,” said Cortez” Furniture designer Tomas Alonso from Spain created the table and benches. “It was very modern with steel, wood and colored plastics. There was dimension and an aesthetic feel to the table and benches,” said Cortez.
Dark Illuminated Forest
A lack of heating element in the exhibition room meant that the chef would be forced to serve a cold dessert. But Cortez insisted he must have a warm element to it. “When you have cold and hot at the same time it always creates dimension in your dining experience,” said Cortez. He ended up creating a warm chestnut muscovado cake combined with cool elements.
Directors at the V&A invited 14 guests to the dessert experience, where they were first presented with a specially crafted ceramic egg.
The ceramic eggs have a special scent in it and it puts you in a zone to accompany and enhance the food you are about to eat…the designer made it to have a scent in there—warm rosemary. So [the diners] smell it and instantly that’s a different part of eating, just by smelling it that changes your mood on what’s to come next,” said Cortez.
“The dessert was a Taiwanese tea handpicked—turned into a mouse with a liquid nose and it fit into a specially designed glass. You are able to take in the scent (more than just tasting it) with this glass and then I added rosemary oil on a plate and I made a rice ice cream infused with black truffles from France,” said Cortez. “It was basically Japanese rice black truffle ice cream.”
In order to maintain the momentum of creating the desserts he studied the psychology of colors and the emotions that are released when experiencing different colors. “I started studying consciously and sub-consciously our emotions that are connected to them, and the color of food—how it effects us and the flavor of food and how it effects us,” said Cortez.
Ceramic Egg infused with warm Rosemary
The Victory and Albert Museum Event
Specially designed glasses
During his studies over the last five years he’s traversed the globe, creating culinary pop-ups in London and coordinating supper clubs with The Shy Chef in Germany. He was asked to guest chef in London with Nuno Mendes and in Singapore with Janice Wong. He was written up in noteworthy international magazines, bloggers and foodies follow his every move, and most recently he was recognized in so good.. magazine #17 for The Tarte au citron perfumeé, alongside well known and awarded Danish chef Rasmus Kofoed. so good.. magazine is a biannual publication dedicated to professionals of the world of dessert, sweet and savory pastry, ice cream and chocolate. so good.. magazine #9 was his premier nod in the publication. “As I was starting off the new year with new directions and culinary aspirations, I knew so good.. #17 was doing the same as well. Being chosen to be one of the key chefs/artists to represent this movement was very exciting for me. And to be amongst some of the worlds most talented people was humbling yet exhilarating.”
Cortez’s training began in Austin, Texas yet quickly escalated to Le Cordon Bleu in Canada, schooling in France—Ecole Lenotre, Ecole de Escoffie, Bellouet Conseil, and L’ Amandiers “Ecole de Soleil.” He also studied in Italy, Canada, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Poland as well as attending a seminar with Albert Adria at Spain’s Chocovic to round out his curriculum vitae.
Roberto Cortez, London
Prior to his international projects, Cortez worked as a personal chef for big wigs and stars like co-founder of Microsoft Paul Allen and movie stars Eddie Murphy and Antonio Banderas. He worked for Murphy for nine months while filming in L.A. and said the star craved gumbo, while actors Antonio Banderas and Melanie Griffith were meat lovers. Cortez said he really enjoyed cooking for Banderas and commented on his unique relationship. “Once he said, ‘I am going to cook with you on a Saturday because we are gong to have some friends over and I am going to show you how to make Paella they way we make it back in Malaga.’ We ended up cooking for like four hours together and talking about music and soccer and basically, he taught me how to do paella and the paella I still do to this day is what he taught me,” said Cortez.
Cortez says chefs rotate between celebrities sometimes working six months but not more than a couple of years, however Cortez was with Allen for five years. “It was great, it was an amazing job and I got to cook for many incredible people and do wonderful traveling but I actually started missing Los Angeles,” said Cortez.
Currently Cortez is working on dining experiences—signature international events held biannually. The dinners have been held in food-forward cities like L.A., Seattle, London and Berlin. Each event requires at least five months of preparation where 12 diners participate over the course of three nights, each evening lasting three hours. “I usually get together with designers—lighting designers, architects and interior designers—and I create a concept and let them know this is what I am thinking. I wanted to create a dining experience of being in the forest at night but it’s light, therefore it’s called Dark Illuminated Forest. So [the space is] dark and illuminated…basically I plant the seed with them and they start to create their interpretation,” said Cortez.
Table scape, Dark Illuminated Forest
While the architects and interior designers engage in the ambiance, Cortez composes a menu:
Liquid modules frites: Mussel bouillon, hot french fry ousse, tempura celery mussel, fired parsley, Orval Trappist Ale gelee.
Thunder in the East: Smoked pork belly, bamboo risotto and puffed crackers, lemon verbena oil, crushed spicy prawns and ginger.
Faux Stout: Black truffle veloute, Venere rice puree, Blis maple syrup sabayon.
“I think he’s a shaman—he’s a guide, a friend…he’s an artist.” said Tomo Kurokawa, a guest at his dining experience in Los Angeles and blogger for tomostyle, in a video about her experience at the dinner. “There is no way you can categorize him into one role because he takes you on this amazing journey through this dinner experience…My experience tonight was a full on sensory experience that evoked a lot of emotions with every course, and Roberto just seems to have that magic about drawing out certain memories and emotion…with the food.”
Cortez is currently a private chef for a family in El Paso and is scheduled for a dining experience in Seattle this year. He says an El Paso experience is on the horizon.
Nature-inspired artists showcase their collaborative works at a swanky Austin gallery
by Kimberly Rene’ Vanecek
Photographs courtesy of the artists
Flatbed Press and Gallery celebrate 25 years and two El Paso artists are along for the ride.
Suzi Davidoff and Rachelle Thiewes
Painter Suzi Davidoff and jewelry designer Rachelle Thiewes were asked to help commemorate the Austin gallery’s quarter century in business with their exhibit Common Language, a collaborative effort spanning thousands of miles and incorporating land installations as well as individual works at the prominent print studio.
Path to Alsviken
The project sent Davidoff and Thiewes traveling from El Paso to Finland’s Fiskars Village in 2009, an area surrounded by overgrown woods and rivers, which served as the initial backdrop for Common Language. Incorporating nature and minimalistic objects these two artists stamped their mark throughout the woods alongside Fiskars River—later continuing the project in the deserts around El Paso.
Thiewes say environment awareness is a central theme to the endeavor. “In Finland we did a couple projects where we wrapped trees with flagging tape which is commonly used to mark trees that will be cut down. Foresting is a major part of Fiskars and the Finnish economy, trees grow for decades, build a beautiful forest and then are cut and logged out, leaving the forest bare,” said Thiewes.
Armed with gold leaf, a vial of cochineal, and color flagging tape the artists embarked on their mission to complete their project during their two-month residency. Thiewes said along their journey they acquired other elements to incorporate in their installations, “On the dock in Finland we used clay that was dug up for us from the Pohja fjords, and in El Paso we used shale from the mountains around the Rio Grande. Other materials were silver leaf, dragees (silver coated sprinkles), fishing bobs, fishing weights covered in gold were used for the Riisla Aquaduct and bullets. We purposefully limited our materials.”
Davidoff said they tracked 500 kilometers throughout the forests during the Fiskar installation and were surprised to see that some of their pieces vanished shortly after they were put in place. “Some of our installations in Finland, like the gold leaf fishing bobs in Riisla aqueduct and the small dragee covered stone, disappeared very quickly,” said Davidoff. The areas they chose to install their projects were often aligned with hiking trails, and both artists assume someone walking along the path may have removed the art not realizing it was an installation. Davidoff said some of the installations did need to come down. “In Finland we were careful to remove the flagging tape from trees, as the same material was often used by the foresters to mark trees ready to be cut,” said Davidoff.
Upon returning to El Paso the duo continued their efforts in creating a favorable and rich environment as was documented in Finland. “We were careful not to contrast the beauty of the verdant forest with the desolation, even the perceived ugliness, of the desert. Both of us find extraordinary beauty in the desert so our goal became to create works that were every bit as rich and full as in the forests around Fiskars,” said Davidoff in an interview with Dan Lambert, author of Common Language: Punctuating the Landscape.
Davidoff and Thiewes set out to the Chihuahuan desert shared between New Mexico and Texas frequented by the ear-piercing sounds of trains screeching on miles of rails twisting through the canyon. This is where they were tasked with trying to adhere flagging tape to the rails in order to document their works before a train reared by and destroyed their creation. “The trains would come through fast from both directions at unpredictable intervals. As soon as the rails would start to vibrate, we’d collect our gear and climb up the slope. The crush of air accompanying the train as it rolled over our worksite would pull sections of tape off in its wake,” said Davidoff.
Dock at Kivijarvi
After completing several installations the two artists stumbled upon quite a surprise in the desert. “Walking in the desert you find structures built out in the middle of nowhere that appear to be lost or of no conceivable use. The creaky wooden walkway supported by a spindly steel frame was one of them,” said Thiewes. The artist recreated the oval footprints that were documented in Finland on the dock in Kivijarvi, this time using ancient shale from the Rio Grande to create the markings.
Santa Teresa wash
The duo completed their project in 2011 and have continued collaborating on works through their group Razi Project. Davidoff and Thiewes say they’re excited to be a part of an art community that is so well documented. “Flatbed is a very well respected print studio in the U.S. so it is an honor that they have invited us to show this project as well as our individual works,” noted Thiewes. Common Language images were transferred onto aluminum accompanied by a twin-screen video projection for the event, which runs through December 31, 2016.
Photographs by Jorge Calleja and Fredesvinda Rojas
Call it a second chance, another opportunity or just call it Resurrection Row. El Paso artist Steve Hastings takes his original works of art from a dark period of his life and revitalizes them in vibrant colors, innovative images and ingenious textures in his latest exhibition Resurrection Row at The Art Avenue Gallery. Hastings shares how his addictions led him down a dark and desolate route but through rehab and recovery his path became illuminated with hope and the creation of a new empowered body of work.
The opening reception of “Resurrection Row”
“I didn’t want to destroy the ‘bad’ paintings from this dark time because they were part of my oeuvre. So I decided that, like me, they could be rehabilitated and together we would show those who had fallen from grace that there was hope, there was forgiveness and there was resurrection,” said Hastings.
“Blue Lake” by Steve Hastings
Resurrection Row is a sampling of several repurposed canvases from Hastings’ drug-induced period in 2010, where he embedded whatever materials he had in his studio into the canvas. He said he is excited for viewers’ interpretations of his textures, especially since they were derived during delirium. “They are trying to make sense out of the textures, when in reality they represent, literally, the disjointed and convoluted mind of a drug addict. It’s like everyone speaking at once and nobody’s listening,” said Hastings, “it’s utter chaos. The final resurrected image is not only from the original image, but stands on top of it in triumphant rebirth.”
“Blue Cross” by Steve Hastings
His studio is stacked wall-to-wall with life-sized paintings covering the last 20 years of his life. Hastings claims that many of his creations were so dark in nature that his friends worried about him. “It was more of a release of my pain in feeling like a total failure in love and life. I was suicidal, but didn’t realize it,” said Hastings.
One thing you won’t find in this show are small works of art hanging around. Hastings renewed canvases range in size from 36” x 54” to 72” x 72” for this exhibit. His affinity to paint big pieces originated when he move north. “When I was living in New York City and trying to show with the big boys…I felt that the larger the painting, the easier it was to get lost in the colors and shapes,” recalls Hastings.
“The Orchid Grinder” by Steve Hastings
Originally from Germany, now deeply rooted in El Paso, Hastings first started painting in the 80s while he worked in various advertising firms in New York City. His large works of primarily oil-based art were exhibited internationally in Germany and Denmark and later displayed in galleries throughout New York, New Mexico and Texas. Hastings moved back to El Paso in 1994 and worked at UTEP as an adjunct professor in the Department of Communications and now travels between Austin, TX and El Paso showing his artwork in various galleries.
Despite his struggles, or perhaps because of them, Hastings spreads a message of positivity through his dark canvases. “Greatness comes from struggle and criticism, not sweetness and light,” said Hastings. “You will never get to go back and make a new beginning, but you can live now and create a new ending. Love your life and live your dream.”
“East of Eden” by Steve Hastings
Ressurection Row will be on display through November 28 and available for viewing in The Art Avenue Gallery store through 2017.
November 3 – November 28, 2016
The Art Avenue Gallery hours are Tuesday-Friday 11:00 a.m.-5 p.m.; Saturday 11:00 a.m.-3 p.m. and Sunday & Monday by appointment only.
A split show between El Paso artists (and family members) Adriana Peraldi and her uncle MARINO memorialize their beloved Beatriz: mother, creator and patron of the arts.
Story by Kimberly Rene’ Vanecek
Photographs by Jorge Calleja and Fredesvinda Rojas
One woman a day is diagnosed with breast cancer in El Paso and two women lose their battle to this horrific disease every week in our region.* Beatriz Rios was one who lost her life to breast cancer 35 years ago, and this month her daughter celebrates her strength, courage and legacy in her exhibit Un poco de lo mucho de Beatriz, which premiered earlier this month at The Art Avenue Gallery.
Adriana Peraldi at the opening reception of “Un Poco de lo Mucho de Beatriz”
Beatriz Rios was a mom, a wife, a lover of the arts and promoter of artists. Rios worked with established and notable artists like painter and sculptor Leonardo Nierman, Mexican painter Diego Rivera and Swiss artist William Kolliker. Her admiration in this field was inherited by her daughter Adriana Peraldi who grew up in Ciudad Juarez and began playing in the arts around the age of four. The noteworthy artists her mother embraced fascinated Peraldi. “There were all these famous people she helped to get their art noticed,” said Peraldi, “It was around the age of 13 or 14 that she would introduce me to their fabulous colors, textures and dimensions. It was just amazing—the artists and the art.”
From left to right: “Globos en Azul” (diptic), “Embarazo” and “Mi Arbol” by Adriana Peraldi.
Peraldi, an artist in her own right, says she’s grateful for her talent, investing her energies over the last year translating that gratitude onto canvas, releasing her emotions and reflecting on her mother’s struggle with cancer: fighting the gossip in society, the art, family and friends with this deathly illness. “I grew up with her looking at how the breast cancer invited itself into her body and how she was fighting to keep alive, because she was really, really fighting against all odds and during the eight years you never noticed when she was in pain,” said Peraldi.
“Mis Globos” and “Me voy ” by Adriana Peraldi.
Peraldi splits her collection Un poco de lo mucho de Beatriz (a little bit of a lot of Beatriz) in half, sourcing societal impacts on one side and emotional influences on the other. She explains how the cancer personally affected her mom, and through her paintings she creates human images of society and the mutated rumors it spreads and reveals her story onto canvas, masonite and fabric. “She was a beautiful and elegant woman—very popular, and at that time nobody would talk about breast cancer. She lost everything. She had a double mastectomy, she lost her self-esteem, her identity, her marriage, the husband, everything,” said Peraldi. “Even though the husband was there, she lost everything and how she was keeping life straight and working to keep the family together and saying ‘I’m ok, I’m fine and I’m going to fight.’”
“El Chisme del Pueblo” by Adriana Peraldi
From an emotional perspective Peraldi’s works are filled with passion and strength displaying bold red and blue shaped balloon images contrasting, intermingling and chasing morphed layered purples and greens. Other pieces reflect an explosion of dark colors splattered throughout the canvas overlapping various shaped images perhaps reflective of anger or disbelief.
“I tried to concentrate all the emotions—when you have it here,” said Peraldi, pointing to her stomach, “even when you are happy maybe some pieces are sad, but there are happy ones. The first emotion, where do you feel it? Aqui,” she says, again, for effect, pointing to her midsection. “For me really I think I feel everything here first, then from there it goes to the head then the heart, that is how I process it.”
“Un Sueño (Dream)” by Adriana Peraldi
And as processes go, for this exhibit Peraldi changed from painting definable human forms with acrylic to creating abstract images with mixed media and incorporating elements used in creating stained glass. “Experimenting I think is the best thing that can happen to the artist—and seeing how the colors come out and using transparencies,” said the artist who currently lives and works in El Paso and tends to lean towards her favorite color when creating art work. “When I use the color red—I like the color red—and when I saw the stained glass mixture and transparency came with the red, for me it was like the transparency was blood…and I equate that with love.”
Attendees at the opening reception of Peraldi’s and Marino’s dual exhibition.
Art certainly seems a talent that runs in the family. Rios’ brother Marino is also an artist (he began drawing in high school) who participated in the exhibition. From a tenured surgeon who retired two years ago to a flourishing sculptor, MARINO (the all-caps byline he prefers to distinguish his art)) uses various types of reclaimed wood found in his yard and incorporates them into his bronze sculptors. “I save these pieces of wood for 25 years in my garden, they were calling me for something,” said MARINO a life-long resident of El Paso. “I would look at them and think of what I wanted to do with them and then the sculpture manifested itself when I started to work with the wood.” MARINO said the wood was initially destined for the fireplace, but instead he took the wood in his hands and explored the texture, weight and length of the piece, turning it over and over allowing a relationship and an idea to formulate—then he would sketch out an image.
MARINO in front of his various bronze sculptures.
MARINO said he was influenced by local notable sculptor Julio Sanchez de Alba and has admired his work over the last few years. He claims that even though he followed Sanchez de Alba’s work, he is a self-taught sculptor.
“The fact that I am a head and neck surgeon, I know the anatomy well and that allows me to create or build a head,” said MARINO. “It doesn’t take me long because I know the bony structure which is the muscles and everything. It’s the gestures that are determined. In “Tree to Tango” I saw the wood first and then I imagined a couple dancing—but I had a third piece [of wood] so I incorporated it into that and so it’s a couple dancing the tango and I wanted to give an expression to these people not just a face.”
“Tree to Tango” by MARINO.
“Tree to Tango” is a carefully crafted piece created from the wood of a Vitex tree popular in the area that blooms purple flowers in the spring, mimicking that of a lilac. The sculpture reaches 42 ½” tall and nature created the base of the piece representative of a couple’s legs poised ready to take the next steps in a tango. MARINO carefully constructed the bronze heads of the couple, paying great detail to the man’s face looking down towards his female companion, expressing Argentinian arrogance mixed with the stubbornness of his culture. He positioned her gazing into the eyes of her partner, suppressing what might be laughter, as she seemingly tolerates his authority over the dance steps; All the while a young boy looks on in amazement as the two are entangled in the dance. Whether the boy is the son of the couple or a simple by-stander, MARINO says it is for the viewer to decide.
From left to right: “Ying and Yang” and “Modi” by MARINO.
Peraldi did not hesitate to include her uncle’s work in this exhibit. “He’s part of Beatriz,” Peraldi said. “He’s always loved art and I saw he was working with wood and sculptures…MARINO is el sangre [the blood] de Beatriz, he is the brother of Beatriz.”
Un Poco de lo mucho de Beatriz
On exhibit now through October 21, 2016
* Sources: North American Association of Central Cancer Registries & Center for Disease Control & Prevention (2006-2010, per 100,000 people)
18-year old El Paso high school senior, actress, director, playwright, singer and writer Alexandra Dipp’s recent performance of Garden of Fluorescent Flowers—a multimedia/hybrid performance—sold out at its premier at the Philanthropy Theatre. I had an opportunity to catch up with the multi-talented teen to discuss her accomplishments as a young director and what we could anticipate from her portfolio as she embarks upon her college career at Brown University this fall.
You recently acted, wrote and directed Garden of Fluorescent Flowers on April 10. Tell us about the piece.
Garden of Fluorescent Flowers is a multi-media hybrid art form, and utilizing theater, film, movement, music, animation, and poetry, the performance works to elaborate on the concept of contemporary expression. By dissipating the boundaries of art, we can further establish how to break the predetermined borders.
The title of this play seems almost psychedelic in nature, how did you arrive at the name?
The title Garden of Fluorescent Flowers alluded to the concept of the fluorescent element, a noble gas on the periodic table. The noble gases do not react with others…they do not need any [more] electrons; they are complete. The performance’s main theme was the desire to be independent. The noble gases are self-sufficient. The characters yearn to be fluorescent; they yearn to be whole.
You seemed at ease with the responsibility of wearing multiple hats in this production—what is your theater background?
Since the third grade I have participated in theater. In performing for various community theater community groups (including El Paso Opera Company, Frontera Repertory Theatre, and EPCC), I was able to grow as a theatrical artist. When I founded Youth Collaboration of the Arts in my freshman year, an opportunity to write, direct, produce and act in a comprehensive manner ramified. So far, I have directed and produced four original productions through YCA.
Do you feel you are tapping into a genre that hasn’t been investigated?
Since this piece was not traditional theater, but rather a collection of six different art forms, Garden of Fluorescent Flowers created an explorative art form that redefined the once divided art making techniques.
Your plays seem to be thematic to issues affecting border areas—a cultural theme. Can you expand on the connection that also intertwines the art world?
The past three productions were more theatrical and based in a narrative. Red and Black, our first production, dealt with the Los Angeles Riots’ effect on the city’s youth art scene. Moving Stillness was a dramatic play working towards the investigation of place and environment. Cardboard House Dreams depicted a story of the daily migration of children from Anapra, a colonia in Juarez.
What’s next in your theatrical world?
As for future performance ventures, YCA plans on creating a film about the pseudo-purgatory of the borderland in reference to a contemporary genesis. This screenplay is in the works, but we hope to utilize performance with the video.
Is this your perception of the pseudo-purgatory along the border or is it the perception of those individuals along the border?
The concept of a pseudo-purgatory and contemporary Eden are both personal perceptions of the human condition from my interpretation. As humans, our insatiable desire to remain in movement forces us to live in perils and conflicts, attributing to a zone of mediation that lacks the ephemeral bliss of a heaven. Thus, anthropogenic causes have created intangible and palpable borders on the frontera, causing a general displacement and migratory existence.
The contemporary Eden has to do with civilization—do we create or revert to a Genesis in order to reclaim paradise? By creating our paradise we coin progresses, evident in visceral ventures. In reverting to our Genesis we rely on stagnant facts to stabilize our bearings in the ever-fleeting moment. Thus, I am attempting to analyze how we achieve paradise in our nomadic drift.
You articulate better than many adults…what do you attribute that to?
The countless hours of discussion and discourse in my household, school, and community has allowed me to critically analyze context and form realizations about the world. Thus, I am endlessly appreciative to my family, mentors, and teachers for initiating an insatiable attention to conceptualizing and cultivating ideas.
Tell me a little bit about Youth Collaboration of the Arts and how does it sustain?
Youth Collaboration of the Arts is devoted to community advocacy. When I founded the art group during freshman year of high school, the hope was to offer an opportunity for young artists throughout the community to develop skills of cooperation, disciplined work habits, and effective problem-solving through the creation of quality multi-media art. We attempt to alter the presumed notions in our community through artistic investigation, a venture which proposes inventive solutions to worldly divides. All profits from productions benefit community organizations, connecting artistic advocacy with contextual implementation. We are planning on continuing Youth Collaboration of the Arts after I leave.
Much of the proceeds from you events are donated back to the community.Who receives these gifts?
We have donated to Via Maria, the Annunciation House, a First Presbyterian Christian Preschool, UTEP, and Frontera Repertory.
I understand you have been looking at school on the East Coast for college.Do you have set plans?
I was fortunate to have been given the opportunity to partake in the Brown-RISD Dual Degree Program. This program will allow me to acquire a B.A. from Brown University and a B.F.A. from Rhode Island School of Design within a five-year period.
Your child’s kindergarten finger painting could be considered precious art. A pencil illustration by famous Mexican artist Diego Rivera is thought to be valuable art or the ticket stubs from the last Prince concert could be thought priceless. No matter the value one places on artwork,, there is really only one way to preserve those precious pieces and that is to conserve them properly.
In the second series of interviews with tenured art framer, Doug Anthony owner of Art Masters, says customers arrive in his Westside store weekly with valuable artwork from various notable artists like Tom Lea, Diego Rivera and Manuel Acosta that were not preserved properly.
What is the most common issue you see when noteworthy work is brought into the store?
The buyers may not have frequented a place where the staff helped pick the design or were knowledgeable about preservation framing. I see it on a daily basis with famous artist’s works—there is masking tape to hold it in place…this causes acid burns that eat away at the work or the glass isn’t UV protectant and this fades the piece.
How do you educate the clients on preservation materials to conserve their pieces?
We have samples behind the counter that show what happens to artwork that is framed improperly—you can see the foxing (acid burns) or acid leaching and the fading from the improper glass that should be framed with conservation of museum quality glass and conservation mats and mounts because they are UV protectant.
We currently have some famous artists’ work where the price of the work has diminished significantly because the piece did not have conservation materials. We guarantee our work for five years and ask you to bring it back to us so we can check the condition of the piece and if there is new technology like special glass or new hinging materials that can enhance or preserve the piece, then we offer that. We are currently working with The Art Avenue Gallery and their clients to introduce a conservation forum and allow guests to bring in works of art so we can check for any issues that may have developed.
If a customer has a print or canvas that has foxing (acid burns) can you fix it?
On paper it is the most expensive to repair.There is no way to return it to its original condition.We can only contain it to a certain extent with conservation glass and mats like I mentioned before.
I was at your store recently and noticed a canvas that was ripped and another that had a chip of acrylic paint missing. Can you fix that?
Philip is on staff and also an artist.He has been restoring paintings and wood frames for about ten years. He did a lot of work for the diocese in El Paso by restoring their old paintings and canvases. He does an incredible job bringing a piece back to life. We feel confident enough to do canvases and redo frames to build them back to their original composition. We also fix ceramics and metals.
What happens if a client shows up with a piece that is valued at $50,000 and the artwork needs to be restored?
We know that on higher end pieces of $50,000 and above, they are better sent off out of town to Santa Fe, New Mexico or Minneapolis, Minnesota where a lot of the great conservators are located.Along with that higher quality of restore comes an increased price tag and time lines can be months or even years before you receive your work of art.
What should customers that have “valuable” pieces of art look for?
Make sure the company has been in business long enough to handle your artwork.If you walk in and they have artwork stacked on the counter, it’s safe to assume that’s how they will treat your work when you leave. Ensure they are reputable and sell limited editions, originals, giclees, which means they are familiar with working with those materials. Look for accreditations like PPFA the Professional Picture Framing Association. Also look to see if they are a CPF, a Certified Picture Framer that is a registry of accredited picture framers.This way you know you are working with qualified individuals.
You’ve been in business for 30 years, why do you think you have been so successful?
I keep up to date with the latest in framing and design and offer my clients creative options and a local relationship.If you give people a good product at a good price and you follow through you will do fine. But if you start taking advantage of people, they will figure that out. That’s the old saying, that if you do something right they will tell one person, but if you do something wrong, they will tell ten people.
In stark black and white documentary photos, international photographer Florencia Mazza Ramsay journeys 3,300 miles from El Paso, TX, capturing images of vast changes, both in the arctic climate and culture.
Of Argentinian decent, Ramsay spent several years jaunting from one private island to another capturing the latest fashion and automotive trends—but nine months ago, she traded in Prada and Porsche for Barrow, AK. The trip took her from the warmth of the desert Southwest and found her at one of the oldest permanent settlements dating back to AD 500 in the frigid Arctic. She spent three months following The University of Texas at El Paso graduate students, professors and international scientists and she hopes to share their experiences with the world.
Northernmost: Fragments Of An Arctic Field Season was the premiere exhibition at The Art Avenue Gallery for Ramsay since returning from Alaska last summer.Ramsay’s past portfolios include work for Ralph Lauren, Porsche and JUXTAPOZ. After some time analyzing life and its voices, Ramsay delved into documentaries that express an expansive collection of life, its challenges and changes. Her black and white digital images captured personal experiences with the residents of this deeply isolated area in the Arctic and provide an artist’s journey into the climate changes they endure.
“I had to leave everything in El Paso to go to the middle of nowhere. It’s the complete opposite of what life is in El Paso—there is a lot of sacrifice to gain this knowledge. My main purpose was to document scientific effort and the way of life of the local culture and how they react with a very threatened environment,” said Ramsay.
Barrow sits at the base of a peninsula that juts into the Beaufort Sea with a population of 4,373. It’s a natural hunting place and its residents are torn between following heritage of living off their land and water, with food sources like caribou, fish, whale, seal, polar bear and walrus, or using the one local grocery store to sustain.
Ramsay says the elders are tough, and taught her a great deal about the Alaskan culture.“As a stranger, I was very cautious of not being too intrusive. I always try to be careful with my approach since I don’t want anyone to feel observed as a rarity,” said Ramsay.
She says their heritage is clashing with their morals and internal decisions of life’s choices and the elders are concerned the younger generation is losing touch with its heritage.
“Kids don’t want to hunt, they want to eat junk food, drink sodas and go to the grocery store where the cost of goods are outrageous. Since Barrow is in such a remote area, dry goods and other staples are flown in by cargo for the grocery store, ranging from $2 a lemon and $11 for a gallon of milk,” said Ramsay.The locals receive a bi-annually tanker that arrives off the coast and delivers goods during the summer annual sealift because the tankers can’t maneuver the Arctic Ocean through the treacherous weather that the other months bring.
While the culture is challenged for sustainability many Alaskans honor a celebration Nalukataq—the spring whaling festival of the Inupiat Eskimos. This celebration is famously connected with a blanket toss and normally held throughout June. The festivities include not only giving thanks for a successful whaling season but the frozen whale meat, whale blubber and skin are evenly shared amongst the residents. The majority of those in attendance don themselves in traditional tribal wear. “Members of local whaling crew begin distributing Muktuk (whale blubber and skin) to families waiting with open and empty bags. The whaling crews make sure all the families who attend leave with a fair share of the catch,” said Ramsay.“It was impressive to experience how proudly they carry their ancestry and the care for the community as whole.”
Barrow is situated 320 miles north of the Arctic Circle and categorized as a polar climate with 160 documented days as below freezing during October through mid-May. The summer months are the warmest with the average high reaching 47 degrees. “We always had layers on because you never knew just how cold you would be or how warm it would get,” said Ramsay.
Shadowing the scientists Ramsay said she gained a new perspective and respect for their field.“You’re in the middle of nowhere and it forges relationships. The scientific community is so hopeful and I learned that being a scientist is not wearing a white coat in the lab and being a nerd—there is a lot of physical work that accompanied their research,” noted Ramsay.
A daily schedule could include a 10-18 mile hike along the coastlines of Beaufort and Chukchi to measure the erosion. UTEP research professor Stephen Escarzaga and husband of Ramsay, went on the expedition and explains some of the research on the tundra.“We have determined that lakes and ponds in the Alaskan tundra are disappearing. It’s vital to understand where this water is draining because the heat and nutrients it takes with it can upset the energy balance in other areas.
Escarzaga said they would take boats into the ocean to measure atmospheric CO2 cycles. “There is currently more carbon stored [in] Arctic permafrost (tundra) than exists in the atmosphere. It took this carbon thousands of years to sequester there. As the climate warms disproportionately in the Arctic, the active layer (the upper layer of permafrost that freezes and thaws each year) thaws earlier and deeper in the summer. This allows microbes to decay the ancient carbon (old plant matter). Think of a freezer full of food that suddenly stops working. This has the potential of accelerating climate change by releasing more carbon into the atmosphere, then in return quickening the rate of carbon release from permafrost,” said Escarzaga.
He said Bathymetry is used to measure the underwater depth and helps researchers model the severity of storm surges and the corresponding effects. “With rising oceans and frequent storms in the Chukchi Sea that effect the town of Barrow, a lot of research is being conducted to understanding how coastal regions are responding to flooding and coastal erosion,” stated Escarzaga.
Since the tundra is also home to the wild, each participant had to prepare before the trip. “We were required to take a gun training class in El Paso before we left—just in case we ran into bears.”
Ramsay already has another trip to the Arctic planned for this summer, where she will continue her documentary photo series.