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.
Cultural Self opened to the public Thursday, April 26 at The Art Avenue Gallery. Mexican artist Luis Pegut shares his love of culture through digital photography while Robert Davidoff has 30 years of experience in various art mediums which show a self-reflective and abstract perspective.
Cultural Self will be available for viewing through May 31, 2018.
Technology, nature and religion were the topic of conversation at the recent exhibition of works by Mitsu Overstreet and Tim Razo at The Art Avenue Gallery.
Graphic designers by nature Overstreet and Razo have been friends for more than 15 years and decided to exhibit together this fall with Ki 気,
“Overstreet and Razo had ongoing conversations on how religion, nature and technology overlap and the result of that is Ki 気, which is the Japanese word for air; atmosphere; flavor; heart; mind; spirit; feelings; humor; an intention; mind; will . In this body of work you see that faith combined with applied science push the traditional values of modern art,” said Kimberly Rene’ Vanecek, owner, The Art Avenue Gallery.
In his premiere exhibition Overstreet breaks through the stringent world of graphic design and shares his buddhist beliefs through his latest works in mixed media. “Throughout my career as designer and public artist, I’ve noticed a common thread in how I create things. This thread led me back to the my Buddhist upbringing and to a genre of Buddhist art from Edo Period Japan. This project is my first step in communicating visually my exploration in these topics,” said Overstreet.
Razo, no stranger to the art world, juxtaposed technology and nature in his pieces with language and symbols out of vegetation. “I am also using animals and our natural surroundings as part of that languages, punctuation and grammar. In my mind this language becomes a type of ambient technology used to express the unknown or subconscious,” said Razo.
Ki 気 will be on display through December 27, 2017.
The Art Avenue Gallery hours are Tuesday – Friday 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., at 1618 Texas Ave. Suite E. For additional information or questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 915.213.4318.
Photographs courtesy of: Heriberto Ibarra and Jireh Valdez
Sirous Partovi’s opening exhibit Intimate Landscape revealed a personal perspective through a digital photographic exhibition. Supporters recently turned out for an intimate evening gathering around Partovi’s black and white photographs expressing his emotions regarding his wife’s HIV status and documenting his journey. Partovi spoke to the group revealing the process that completed this exhibition where he juxtaposed landscapes and images of his wife’s body into triptych pieces. Intimate Landscape and Bodyscape will be on display through the end of the year. An artist talk is schedule for November 14 at 6:00 p.m. at The Art Avenue Gallery. Guest will have an opportunity to learn about his journey and his process.
The first of its kind at The Art Avenue Gallery…a collaborative effort of visual and live art combined with a stunning musical performance.
Mexica Legends is a collaborative effort of works by Joey Delgato and Diego Martinez and inspired through the musical influences from tenor Rodrigo Garcia Morelos and soprano Paola Treviño Todd from OME. After listening to Aztec Myths & Legends: A Narrated Concert by OME, Martinez reached out to Delgato and initiated a project that would intertwine the artists styles fused by Aztec legend.
Martinez unrestrictive and expressive style combined with the minimalistic surrealistic manner of Delgato lends bold colors and strong expressive lines in their collaborative pieces.
The duo said they wanted to share their passion supporting the continuous drift among myths, legends, history and music of the Aztecs as well as get in touch with their own cultural roots. “Culture, life, and death is something we are all connected to from the moment we are born, by doing this show I have discovered aspect about my Mexican heritage and it has given me a sense of who I am,” said Martinez.
Delgato says he collaborates with Martinez on several projects, but this particular event challenged them more than anticipated. “We got together and listened to the music of OME and looked up the aztec legends that their songs are named after. We looked up Aztec and Mexican art to get an idea of the style and colors often used to capture the essence and symbolism of Aztec art. Once we got that down we sketched up some ideas to figure out how to combine our styles to create these pieces,” said Delgato.
“This is a first for The Art Avenue Gallery, to have a thematic exhibit where the arts and the music support one another. I am excited to bring the live musical component to the evening and adding live art at the same time. We strive to make a change—an impact,” said Kimberly Rene’ Vanecek, The Art Avenue Gallery owner.
Garcia says the collaboration didn’t have guidelines and the artists were free to create how they wanted but he said he wanted to impact people. “We hope that through this exhibition, by combining epic and powerful music with astonishing, colorful visuals, we can contribute to bring people closer to their roots, history, oral tradition and mainly their heritage in a fun and creative way,” said Garcia.
Mexica Legends will display collaborative works by Delgato and Martinez combined with new solo works. The exhibit opens Thursday, August 27, 2017 at 6 p.m. with musical performance by OME at 6:30 and live art starting at 7:30.
The Art Avenue Gallery hours are Tuesday – Fri. 11:00 a.m. – 5 p.m., at 1618 Texas Ave. Suite E. For additional information or questions, please email email@example.com or call 915.213.4318.
You can add this event to your facebook calendar by visiting this link.
The El Paso Community Foundation’s Plaza Classic Film is pulling out all the stops in celebration of its 10th year anniversary. The festival shows classic films and invites special guests to give talk-backs and interviews. This year, Academy Award winner Richard Dreyfuss, Golden-Globe-Winner actress Mary Kathleen Turner and iconic animation duo Gary Goldman and El Paso native Don Bluth are featured on the special appearance lineup.
The festival begins August 3, with a screening of the film first ever shown at the festival, “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre,” and closes on August 13.
Attracting an audience of over 40,000 per year, the festival takes place in El Paso’s iconic and historical Plaza Theater and at various other Downtown locales.
“Each year we do it, its reputation grows a little more,” said Doug Pullen, program director. “80 percent of the audience comes from this area. But, when you’ve been around 10 years, you start to get around more in other circles. You bring in a guest and they have good experience and they tell their friends and their friends are actors, producers and directors and we grow.”
The festival’s popularity is on the rise with events encompassing all age groups. Family-friendly showings include Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004), Benji, The Land Before Time and more.
Dreyfuss, an American actor often recognized for playing characters with fast-talking, brash and ambitious traits, will be giving a on-stage interview at the Plaza Theater before a showing of Jaws (1975), in which he starred. He has worked with giants of the screen such as director Steven Spielberg and George Lucas.
“[Dreyfuss] has been on the wishlist for a few years,” Pullen said. “But he’s a working actor, and it can be difficult going from one gig to the next. But the timing worked out well for us this year!”
Also on the special guest lineup is dynamic animation duo Goldman and Bluth. The colleagues met in 1972 at Walt Disney animation studios forging a creative partnership that would last over 30 years. After leaving Disney, the duo produced several feature films, notably award-winning The Secret of NIMH (1982). Other productions include The Land Before Time (1988) and the award winning family favorite Anastasia (1997).
“I tried to contact Bluth, because I knew he was from El Paso,” Pullen said. “What we wanted to do was not only have Bluth appear, but we wanted to honor him and highlight the fact he was from here.”
Bluth and Goldman will appear for an on-stage interview before a screening of “The Secret of NIMH” and a Q&A session Saturday, August 12 at 1:30pm.
Another guest in attendance is Turner, a film and stage actress famous for her distinctive raspy voice. She won two Golden Globes and a nomination for an Academy Award. Notable films include Body Heat (1981) and the voice of Jessica Rabbit in the animated film, Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (1988). She has also been nominated for Tony Awards for her performances on Broadway including “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” and “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”
The 63-year-old actress sat down for an on-stage interview and signed autographs after the screening.
While these headliners are impressive, the prices for The Community Foundations’ Plaza Classic Film Festival are surprisingly low. Some of the events are free and the full, all-included Festival Pass is $200, while the Film Club Pass is only $100. However space is limited.
“We consider it a gift to the community,” Pullen said. “We aren’t trying to make money, but trying to break even. So the reason we have a lot of free events and low tickets, is to level the playing field, and not just for people with a lot of money.”
In total, the festival will host over 100 free events including lectures, talk-backs and more. About one-third of all the events are at no cost at all. “We want people to get in and be able to afford it,” Pullen said.
The El Paso Community Foundation’s annual Classic Film Festival will be from Aug. 3-13 at the Plaza Theater and other locations in Downtown El Paso. To buy tickets visit ticketmaster.com, plazaclassic.com/tickets, or call 800-745-3000. To check out showtimes, events and to get more information, visit plazaclassic.com or call 915-533-4020.
Internationally recognized, nationally acclaimed and locally celebrated, five artists from the local southwest area have been featured in a premier print shop’s quarter-century retrospective of the press’s most notable artists.
Flatbed Press, based in Austin, TX, celebrated its’ 25th year anniversary by featuring 80 artists who have collaborated with the press– of the prominent artists honored, five were from the southwest and three attended an event at The Art Avenue on June 23 in celebration of their achievements. Artwork by Ricky Armendariz, Suzi Davidoff, Celia Muñoz and Luis Jimenez was shown at the event.
“What [The Art Avenue Gallery] currently have on exhibit is like no other show,” said Kimberly Rene’ Vanecek, owner, The Art Avenue Gallery. “These talented artists showcase etchings, monotypes, silkscreens, lithographs and more. You don’t see this kind of exhibit locally and the quality of art that is being produced by artist from our community is outstanding.”
Originally founded in 1989 by Katherine and Mike Brimberry, Flatbed provides studio space for artists where they can work to create limited editions of original works including lithographs, woodcuts, monotypes, etchings and more. Many works produced at Flatbed have been collected by museums such as the Museum of Modern Art (MoMa), the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Metropolitan Art Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts and others.
One such artist whose work retains a permanent place in the Metropolitan Museum of Art is Davidoff. Her career as a professional artist now spans several decades. She is based in El Paso, TX, and seeks to produce synergetic pieces on various mediums exploring the structure of the natural world. Materials used in her work include charcoal, oil, gold leaf, moss, clay, cochineal, and dirt.
Many of these supplies, which were gathered on her walks outdoors, are rubbed into the surface of the paper.
“By being out there and hiking and observing, by touching and collecting this stuff…and then putting it all back together in the studio, it connects the act of walking with the act of making art,” said Davidoff in a previous interview with Kimberly Rene Vanecek at The Art Avenue. “So it all comes together and that’s the basis of the work.”
The southwest landscape has not only been a source of inspiration and creativity for Davidoff, but also for Armendariz.
Armendariz creates unique drawings, prints, and paintings by producing images that contain biographical, cultural and historical references. His work exudes references to southwestern landscape and mythological symbolism found in Greek, Roman and Mexican-Indian traditions.
For example, Modern Prometheus Unbound (Remix) is a new twist on the age-old mythological tale, Armendariz said. This was just one of several prints shown at the Flatbed at 25 artist talk and demonstration event at The Art Avenue on June 24.
Creating large prints, such as Modern Prometheus Unbound (Remix) can be a lengthy process. After sketching the outline of his work, Armendariz carves the design into a medium, such as wood and then the design is inked and pressed– the entire process can take up to several months depending on size.
“Carving is very repetitive, but [it’s] the part where I can be the most expressive,” said Armendariz in an interview with the San Antonio Current, an online news publication. “I have to be very aware of my mark-making. I can’t zone out. I have to be very present. One mistake and I have to start over from scratch.”
Armendariz now lives in San Antonio, TX and works as a professor at the University of Texas at San Antonio teaching all levels of painting and drawing for graduate and undergraduates classes.
“It was an honor to have the work of such talented El Pasoans in our gallery,” said Jorge Calleja, Creative Director at The Art Avenue. “It comes to show the caliber of artists we have from our city.”
Muñoz, another local artist featured in Flatbed Press at 25, creates multi-conceptual artwork which involves lens-based texts and images inspired and influenced by personal and social issues.
“Once, I thought that being a Catholic Chicana from El Paso were three strikes against me,” said Muñoz in an interview with Los Angeles Times. “Now, that is precisely where I draw my material.”
Muñoz began her artist journey in advertising. “It was my first real interest,” said Muñoz. “I would spend hours looking through top newspaper and magazine advertisements and then started drawing.”
Muñoz decided to become an artist and printmaker at the age of 42, with two careers already behind her–in advertising and as a grade school art teacher. Her style has morphed, now incorporating photography and drawing which are printed onto a silkscreen.
“You have to be aware of relationships, especially with boyfriends,” said Muñoz with a laugh, in reference to the inspiration behind her print Sweet Nothings. “That’s why condoms are mixed in with the candies.”
Muñoz is the recipient of several awards including the National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship Awards in Photography and New Genres, CAA Committee on Women in the Arts Recognition Award, The Outstanding Centennial Alumnus by University of North Texas College of Arts and Sciences and many others. Her work has been nationally and internationally exhibited and even included in the Whitney Museum of American Art 1991 Biennial. Her work is now in various private and public special collections of major museums, universities and corporations.
Private collector and local El Pasoan Juan Sandoval graciously loaned The Art Avenue Gallery three works by internationally recognized artist Luis Jimenez, who was also featured in Flatbed Press at 25. For a limited time, these works including Cholo in Lowrider Van, will be on display at the gallery throughout the month of July.
While each artist’s style varies, their recognition in Flatbed Press at 25, should not go unnoticed. At the artist talk and demo, Muñoz stated it is an honor to be featured in this book. “This book is very historical,” said Muñoz. El Paso is well represented by these five artists.
To check out their individual works for sale or to buy the book, visit our gallery at 1618 Texas Avenue or contact The Art Avenue at 915.213.4318 for more information.
Taking the art world by storm, an emerging artist creates bold, colorful murals diverging from traditional southwest style. Her paint brushes have graced walls across the world including Mexico, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and others. Identifying as a nature worshipper, Celeste Byers’ artwork largely centers around the metaphysical, while encompassing humanitarian and environmental issues.
“[My artwork] is the one thing I’ve felt passionate about my entire life,” said 28-year-old Byers. “I am trying to communicate through my art that there is magic beyond what I can see.”
Born and raised in San Diego, CA, Byers is not the typical “starving artist”. Graduating with a BFA from Art Center College of Design in 2012, she jumped straight into the art world. Almost immediately, she was hired by a major news publication. “I was pretty lucky and one of my first jobs out of college was working for the New York Times doing illustrations for the Op-Ed section!” Byers said.
But Byers’ murals are what brought her international attention. Her unique usage of bold color schemes in combination with detail didn’t go unnoticed. For Wonder Woman’s 75th anniversary, Warner Bros. asked Byers to design a mural of the superhero at Comic-Con 2016.
“Her use of vibrant and rich colors is unlike I’ve seen before,” said Rocio Salinas Almeida, a graphic designer and El Paso local.
Her most recent work, Nopales in Love, a mural featuring two cacti kissing, is located at the SANDI Apartment Complex in El Paso, TX. This work highlights her creative process.
“I always try to make my subject matter relevant to the location I’m painting,” Byers said. “The idea for that mural [Nopales in Love] took a few hours to come up with. First I wanted to paint straight up portraits, then I got the idea to paint cactus people portraits, then that evolved to wanting to make the cactus people kissing.”
Nopales in Love centers around the love found in nature. “[Nopales in Love] is about everything and everyone,” Byers said. “All people, all animals have this need to find love. So I made the cacti into people, expressing everything’s need to reproduce.”
Her artwork begins with a “sketch” which usually incorporates Photoshop. “I use these ‘sketches’ to paint from as well as show my client so they can understand my idea,” Byers said. After the sketch is completed, Byers prepares and then begins to paint.
“I’ve recently enjoyed spending around 10 days at a mural location and working on the wall,” Byers said. “Before that, I was usually painting murals in about 5 days but I was always getting sick after painting for 12-14 hours a day every day. I realized I can enjoy the location and have better health if I give myself more time to finish and paint for less time every day.”
Byers’ murals can take anywhere from a few hours to several weeks to complete. Nopales in Love took her eight days to finish.
But Byers doesn’t always like to take her time with her work. “I like to make artwork about things I think are important,” Byers said.
Her partnership with PangeaSeed Foundation has been one such avenue. PangeaSeed is an international non-profit organization which seeks to create environmental change for oceans through “ARTivism,” education and science.
“I think the conservation of nature is extremely important in our day in age,” Byers said. “[Working with PangeaSeed] has taught me that art is a powerful medium for communicating ideas about activism and social commentary.”
In May, Byers live-painted a mural seeking to highlight glamorized drug usage and its environmental damage at Neon Desert Music Festival in El Paso, TX.
“I included a parrot skull in my mural because… although the aerial fumigation programs are targeted at killing coca plants, they end up wiping out vast amounts of rainforest and the plants and animals that live within them,” Byers said. “The ribcage and human skeleton hand serve as a reminder of the people who have lost their lives in this violent industry.”
Check out Celeste Byers’ website for more information and to see her work!
Experience a summer filled with color! Art camp is the answer to summer boredom. The Art Avenue Gallery Summer Camp 2017 will teach the basics of art, from watercolor to contemporary styles including abstract and street art and much more.
Art education isn’t just fun. It is educational. Art has the potential to expand a child’s horizons and enable them to see in a different light.
“You would be surprised how many people don’t know what primary colors are,” said Kimberly Vanecek who runs the art camp and is the owner of The Art Avenue. “I can’t tell you how excited I am to share art with the youth in the community and help build upon a foundation in the arts. The kids leave here with the basic knowledge of color theory and a broader artistic vocabulary and palette to share.”
Art education programs help foster creativity which in turn can lead to a multitude of benefits. According to Parents Magazine, investing in creativity, parents help children develop mentally, socially and emotionally. Creating art can boost a child’s ability to problem-solve in a myriad of ways says Mary Ann F. Kohl, author of Primary Art: It’s the Process, Not the Product.
The ability to manipulate a paintbrush or colored pencil can improve motor skills. Children dabble in science when they experiment with colors and techniques.
Feeling good while creating and collaborating creates pride in the work produced. This can boost self-confidence. When children experiment and feel free to make mistakes, they invent new ways of thinking. Thinking ‘outside the box’ breeds creativity. Artistic creations are born through problem-solving. According to the Washington Post, developing these skills are fundamental to success in any future career.
Recent research has shown participation in art education improves children’s abilities to concentrate and focus on other aspects of their lives says Kohl. “We are learning new words and meeting new friends,” said Ava Hernandez, 10, a student in the summer art camp. “Meeting new friends in my favorite part!”
The summer art camp provided by The Art Avenue and led by Vanecek allows children ages 6-13 to learn about art history and theory in tandem with physical projects which focus on the theme of the week.
“This program is intensive,” said Vanecek. “I teach them the history of art, instead of just how to paint. They learn about the artist. They learn the foundation of art.”
The art camp lasts for eight weeks from May 30- July 21 with morning and afternoon sessions.
Each week covers a different theme. Students can pick and choose the weeks they want to attend. For more information, feel free to contact us at 915.231.4318 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
An emerging artist depicts and honors women from all walks of life at The Art Avenue Gallery. Local artist Hope Gerlay will be featured throughout the month of May. HER features work by Gerlay and her husband Carlos Estrada-Vega. This showcase focuses on femininity and the definition of a modern woman.
“HER, [is] the transitional woman from child to crone,” said Gerlay. “The feminine rising is what I wanted to portray, with all the pseudo-feminism and philosophies from around the world on being a woman.”
All of the artwork in HER ascribes to a certain aspect of womanhood. For example, one of her pieces,“Unmade,” illustrates the importance of self-care as represented by a bed in the painting.
“Her collection is filled with relatable meaning to me,” said Madeline Ordonez, a marketing and art major at Concordia University. “I immediately gravitated towards the “Unmade” piece. Hearing Hope explain how it related to her self-care prompted me to examine my own.”
When asked about the focus of her work, Gerlay replied, “When I was thinking about what subject matter to paint for the show and thinking about what my life has gone through, being a female and all it entails, to becoming a new kind of woman I was inspired to call [the collection] HER.”
Gerlay’s art education began at 11 with a private art teacher. Although she started her Bachelor’s of Fine Arts degree, she disliked the program and decided to change course. “So I left [school] and then took random classes here and there for refreshers,” Gerlay said.
Instead of following the traditional route and finishing school, she traveled internationally. “I went soul-searching in the Pacific North West, Paris then Jerusalem,” Gerlay said. “[And then] everything just fell into place.”
Now, Gerlay is an up-and-coming artist in the desert Southwest with an unusual creative process, “To begin… I like to ground myself in a meditative state by techniques to relax,” Gerlay said. “I search what’s deep inside and pull it out. Whether I am attracted to my surroundings, my memories, current agenda, or what I make up from my imagination. My second step is applying my medium with a spatula and just start with no outline as a tool. In other words, I set myself up to paint, and I paint.”
Gerlay believes that this process allows her to pull from within what is HER.
The collection presents a range of ethnically diverse women, representation that all women in the world are one. The medley of artwork depicts a Jewish-American woman, a pregnant woman and even Gerlay’s own mother.
“Each [piece] has told me their own tale, but the tale is for the viewer,” Gerlay said. “I think most of society’s viewpoint on modern art has to do with realism and how clear they can see the image displayed. What the majority of people perceive as skills are understood more as talent. In the contemporary art world the perception of a craft or skill if often interpreted as high art. It is difficult for a contemporary painter to present abstraction into the world which is given to perceive imagery from the cyber world.”
Using charcoal, brush and spatulas, Gerlay uses a medium patented by her husband Estrada-Vega, a renown artist made famous for his orchestrations of color incorporating magnetic individually painted cubes.
“I blend the medium with pigments to create whatever hue I want, apply with a spatula or brush depending on the thickness,” Gerlay said. “It is mainly an oil mixture with some limestone dust and it is quite a time-consuming process.”
As an emerging artist, she adheres to simple advice. “Follow your bliss-no matter what type of art you think you can do,” Gerlay said. “Don’t take the easy way, don’t listen to anybody but yourself, and if so, take opinions with a grain of salt.”
Gerlay’s collection, HER, will be displayed at The Art Avenue throughout May.
Follow us on Facebook and Instagram to keep updated.