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.
What was once considered a taboo subject matter is revealed in an emotional photographic exhibition at The Art Avenue Gallery in El Paso, Texas with the images receiving an award from Rangefinder Magazine.
Emergency Room Physician Sirous Partrovi’s life changed the day his wife Patti Wetzel, also a physician at the time, was struck with a needle from a patient infected with HIV. He wasn’t sure how the future would play out for them, so he turned to photography as a catalyst to channel his emotions. Many years and 30,000 images later, he was able to successfully direct his feelings into the Intimate Landscape & Bodyscape Series—a collective of images from travels around the world incorporating photographs of his wife’s body.
You get quite personal in this exhibit…is this the first time sharing YOUR story to the public? At the time of Patti’s needle-stick, she was running the inpatient AIDS unit at the county hospital in Fort Worth. This was during the AIDS epidemic when the disease was shrouded in secrecy and there was much fear in general public. So, shortly after we learned about Patti’s diagnosis, SHE told her story publicly. It was her way to de-stigmatize the disease.
A few years ago I began contemplating a photography project that would help me explore my feelings surrounding Patti’s diagnosis and my reaction to it. At the time, I had no idea where this would lead but Patti was very supportive although unknowing that it would ultimately involve photos of her body. More recently, when the nature of the project declared itself, she was increasingly supportive of the work, of literally being a part of the photographs and of the “breakthrough.”
How did you endure the tough times? By going to work as an ER physician. When you deal with your patient’s lives being cut short on a daily basis you develop an appreciation of your own situation. I’d tell myself that Patti is still here and that I can still love her. I also believe in psychotherapy and the power of therapeutic medications. I have had my share of uncertainty and depression, but thanks to the support of family and friends and the professionals that I trusted, I pulled out of it.
You mentioned you have been working on this body of work for five years…how did it come together? Did you foresee this body of work or did it just evolve? Although I had a vague idea of this project several years ago, it was not until I took a workshop with Susan Bernstein that I realized I was completely unable to articulate the concept. This workshop was actually a week-long psychotherapy session in which we all took a deep look at the kind of work that we wanted to produce and how that could be accomplished. Susan gave each of us our own word to ponder every time we pressed the shutter and even though she pushed me to choose between the words together and isolated, much to my surprise, after speaking of loneliness and depression when sharing my project idea, I chose the word “together” for me. This seemed totally incongruous with the way that I was feeling but planted a seed in my subconscious.
During my trip to Iceland, the stark landscape and the photos that I took all seemed to resonate with isolation and further reinforce my loneliness. But shortly after that trip while on vacation with Patti, her naked and sleeping body conjured up some of the same images that I found so beautiful and haunting in my Iceland series. That was my “a ha” moment and the idea of incorporating Patti into images that were stark yet sensual and that mirrored the landscapes I loved from Iceland and White Sands was the inception of the Bodyscape series.
You were just awarded Runner-Up in Rangefinder’s “The Body” photography contest in the Amateur, Fine Arts division with your Intimate Landscape & Bodyscape collections—that must be extremely fulfilling, especially knowing the backstory of this series. It is nice to be recognized by the people in the world of professional photography. I used photographs to tell my story and I’m pleased that it has touched other people and has brought this work some attention.
Why did you become an artist? I remember that as a child growing up in Iran, I loved to draw and make collages from torn pages of magazines. I was attracted to form and structure. And as much as I prized these values, I was pushed towards the sciences by my family. Then I moved to the United States, went to college, became a doctor and practiced the art of medicine. Along the way I took a photography course in school, ceramic workshops later in life and finally with the advent of digital photography I began to dabble in that art form. Art for me is an outlet, a voice, something I can do to lose myself while time stays still.
There is only one color image in these works, why so many black and white images in the exhibit? The snow covered hills in Iceland were black and white when I photographed them. They were void of color. As the project progressed the images spoke to me more succinctly in black and white. To me black and white removes distraction of color and the emotions it portrays on the surface.
Are you at peace with the outcome of this series? I say this work is still in progress. I want to continue this project as long as I can, but I am happy about the direction it has taken me.
What have you learned as an artist through this time. As Steven Sondheim said, ‘Art isn’t easy, but does get easier if you have something to say that resonates with the audience.’
Intimate Landscape and Bodyscape are on display at The Art Avenue Gallery and runs through November 24, 2017.
The Art Avenue Gallery hours are Tuesday, Thursday & Friday 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.. and Wednesday 11:000a.m. -2:00 p.m. at 1618 Texas Ave. Suite E. For additional information or questions, please email email@example.com or call 915.213.4318.
The photographs featured in this exhibition include works from my most recent series, Intimate Landscape which has been a vehicle for me to explore and ultimately depict emotions surrounding isolation, intrigue and intimacy.
This series is influenced by my 29-year relationship with my wife, also a physician, who sustained the impact of a needle which rendered her HIV-Positive during our first year of marriage. The resulting issues surrounding her unknown longevity, intimacy and love at times led me to isolation and depression.
In this gallery you will see a selection of photographs produced between 2011 and 2017. During this period of creative experimentation I used metaphor to help me articulate a narrative. Images were produced at a range of places including snow fields in Fjallabak Iceland and dunes of White Sands National Monument in New Mexico. It depicts a period of my life full of emotional volatility, isolation and depression. I felt like I was losing Patti.
My work has evolved naturally into a new project entitled “Bodyscapes” that is showcased on the long wall in this gallery. By strategically combining multiple photographs to create one complete image, each work functions as a departure from the loneliness and uncertainty that was engulfing me. Through combining the stark and often private experience of remote landscapes with images of the human body I have forged a path to bring Patti back into the narrative of my photography, giving her permanence in my life as well as my artistic practice.
Eric Erickson (1902 – 1994), a noted twentieth century psychologist postulated that
.….in the first stage of adult development we begin to share ourselves more intimately with others. Avoiding intimacy, fearing commitment and relationships can lead to isolation, loneliness, and sometimes depression. Success in this stage will lead to the virtue of love.
Bodyscapes has become my conduit to growth; my creative muse. I am happy to share with you seven of my early works in this new on-going series of photographs.
Photographer and web designer Brian Wancho premiers his photographic collection LUX at The Art Avenue Gallery on Thursday, March 9. Wancho’s exhibition features iconic buildings and cityscapes throughout the Borderplex.
“His iconic images and use of light make a statement and beautifully represent our region,” said Kimberly Rene’ Vanecek, owner of The Art Avenue Gallery.
Wancho derives the inspiration for his collection from the French word “Lux”. It means the “amount of light that falls on a surface”. Capitalizing on illumination through natural light, Wancho uses software to accentuate his digital images. “Programs like Photoshop allow the photographer to develop and enhance the photo so that it represents their creative intent,” said Wancho. “In that respect, it is an invaluable tool.”
His love for photography began at a young age. “I remember getting a Kodak 110 film camera as a kid and taking it with me everywhere,” Wancho said.
Now, as CEO of an El Paso web design company, Stanton Street, Wancho admits it is through this business he fine-tuned his love of photography. “My interest in photography stayed dormant until I took a job that included creating content for websites,” Wancho said. Since then, he has graduated to a Nikon D800E DSLR and a PhaseOne medium format camera.
LUX will be on display throughout April.
The Art Avenue Gallery hours are Tues., Thurs. & Fri. 11 a.m. – 5 p.m., Wed. 11 a.m. – 2 p.m., Sat. 11 a.m. — 2 p.m. and Mon. by appointment only, at 1618 Texas Ave. Suite E. For additional information or questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 915.213.4318.
On Thursday April 27, The Art Avenue Gallery hosted Senses in Sucrose, a book signing session and art exhibition with internationally renown chef and artists Roberto Cortez.
He left El Paso in the mid 80s, and now more than 30 years later he’s back—the world-famous chef will now add author and painter to his list of accomplishments.
The Art Avenue Gallery was on hand when Cortez received his shipment of books, Senses in Sucrose—which Cortez emphasizes,“is not a cook book but a culinary artistic book.” The publication takes unfathomably decadent desserts and transforms them onto 200 pages of photography, marrying pastries to emotions. Cortez created 12 uniquely captivating and intoxicating desserts based on 12 different complex emotions.
“This is such an incredible opportunity for me. This project started in London seven years ago and has taken me back and forth across the world, creating desserts for this book while working as a private chef for people around the world,” said Cortez. “Many of my friends in the industry were telling me, ‘You have to create a book, Roberto,’ so I did. Now I see the finished product and it’s bad ass.”
Cortez has worked as a celebrity chef for 19 years cooking for big wigs and stars like co-founder of Microsoft Paul Allen and movie stars Eddie Murphy, Antonio Banderas and Melanie Griffith. Just recently, work has drawn Cortez back to El Paso and allowed him to complete his premier culinary book and art exhibition.
“This is a huge nod for El Paso to have Chef Roberto Cortez as part of this core community, and even greater that he kicks off his international book tour in our very own gallery. He will create two of the desserts from the book that guests will be able to sample,” said The Art Avenue Gallery owner Kimberly Rene’ Vanecek.
The Art Avenue Gallery will host Cortez’ premiere book signing and first art exhibit, Senses in Sucrose, on Thursday, April 27 at 6:00 p.m. Books, original works of art and prints will be available for purchase that evening.
Senses in Sucrose, bothart exhibition and book,will be on display at the gallery through May.
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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.
As an art photographer favoring street photography, it is not my intention to photograph an image that does not genuinely exist, nor alter it into an illusion that it is not. My photography tends to focus on documenting the reality—dimples and blemishes—that make life along “la frontera” of the United States and Mexico so colorful and unique.
Villalba has participated in exhibitions in the Southwest U.S., and Northern and Central Mexico, and currently at the El Paso Museum of Art in the Desert Triangle Print Carpeta Exhibition now through May 22.
Argentinian photographer Florencia Mazza Ramsay spent years jaunting from one private island to another capturing the latest fashion and automotive trends—but nine months ago, she traded in her Prada heels for something warmer to visit Barrow, Alaska. The trip, which took her thousands of miles away from the desert Southwest, found her in the Antarctic producing thousands of images to document the change in culture, climate and direction of a small yet impactful heritage.
NORTHERNMOST: FRAGMENTS OF AN ARTIC FIELD SEASON is the premiere exhibition for Ramsay since returning from Alaska last year. After traveling for three months with UTEP graduate students, professors and international scientists, she hopes to share her experiences with the world.
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 life’s experiences with the residents of this deeply isolated area and provide an artists journey into the climate changes they endure.
“This is a powerful presentation of images Ramsay compiled from her time in Barrow. I couldn’t think of a better time to display her work, allowing El Pasoans a glimpse of life beyond our own borders, conceptualizing how others live on a border thousands of miles away which contribute to the isolation of those lines,” said gallery owner, Kimberly Rene’ Vanecek.
“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 threated environment,” said Ramsay.
The premier of Ramsay’s exhibit serves as a platform for future documentaries in the region. NORTHERNMOST: FRAGMENTS OF AN ARTIC FIELD SEASON will kick off Thursday, April 14 at 6 p.m. and continue through May 5, 2016. A workshop led by the artist will be revealed during the opening exhibition.
The Art Avenue Gallery hours are Tuesday-Friday 11 a.m.-5 p.m.; Monday and Saturday by appointment only, at 1618 Texas Ave. Suite E. For additional information or questions, please email email@example.com or call 915.213.4318.
The innovative, award-winning artist and El Paso native, David Alan Boyd debuts new work from the Mesilla Valley, in this one-day salon on November 28, from 10:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Light and Shadow will feature large and small works inspired by the landscape and daily life in the Mesilla Valley and Old Mesilla.
The salon provides a rare opportunity to meet the artist, and to enjoy and purchase art in a relaxed environment. Artwork will be available in a wide range of prices to fit any budget.
David is a multi-disciplinary artist whose work is based on digital photographic imagery. This work includes both traditional photographic prints, and multi-image “polyptychs” using a variety of image sources and materials. David will be featured, along with the internationally renowned Las Cruces artist Carlos Estrada Vega, in the exhibit Light, Color, Space, Motion at the Las Cruces Museum of Art in May of 2016.
For press inquiries please contact Colleen Boyd, (575) 647-9642 or firstname.lastname@example.org