Friday, September 30, 2011

Creative Casts

Laura Llano, Tunas, watercolor, n.d.
Comadres Artistas

The women based collaborative Comadres Artistas, has been active in the Sacramento area for over 20 years. These women have contributed as viable members in the Sacramento Chican@ community by supporting cultural and feminine values through their artistic production. To celebrate their achievements, the California Museum organized a retrospective exhibition titled Más Chisme de la Cultura (More Gossip of the Culture) that will run until the thirteenth of November.

Irma Barbosa, Comadre Enchilada, 2002
Laura Llano’s delicate watercolor Tunas centralizes its subject of the prickly pear fruit to dedicate a moment of contemplation and appreciation of the iconic plant so well loved in Mexican cuisine and culture. The nopal takes primary precedent in the creation story of ancient Mexico, where the Aztecs founded their city of Tenochtitlán, guided by the prophecy of an eagle devouring a serpent upon a cactus. In Tunas, Laura Llano transfigures the revered prickly pear and its fruit, paying homage to the sustenance and continuity of tradition.

Mareia de Socorro, Comadres, n.d.
Comadre Enchilada, a “joyful woman [that] might be anyone’s mother” by Irma Barbosa, similarly invokes the reverence of cuisine and culture. Moreover, Barbosa aggrandizes her figure beyond the confines of the domestic sphere, into the universal sphere that is shared by the comadre and the sun. The comadre’s tortilla can transpose as a moon, extending the relationship of women in an open public role. Barbosa repositions women as active forces within their greater community, pointing to the destabilization of patriarchal expectations and the aim to empower women.

The intimate composition by Mareia de Socorro compliments the repositioning and empowerment of feminine spheres and solidarity in Comadres. The tradition of the Catholic baptism prompts for the selection of god-parents which helps extend the nuclear family. Socorro uses brilliant color to emphasis emotive auras that bond the figures (bringing to mind the work of Marc Chagall), utilizing ritual tools such as the baptismal water, candle, and bible, as elements to narrate and enhance the communion. Comadres exemplifies in visual form many of the fundamental values sustained in the impressive trajectory of the Comadres Artistas.

Dave Andre, Installation, ceramics, 2011

The Center for Contemporary Art organized their sixth annual Capitol Artists’ Studio Tour which featured more than 150 artists and involved a number of spaces on and off the grid, offering an opportunity to experience the diversity of artistic approaches in the area. 

Towards the south end of Sacramento, one can find Panama Pottery, a dynamic space that produces commercial ceramics interwoven with professional art studios of an eclectic kind. Surrounded by massive retired kilns, the communal space houses a range of disciplines from woodwork, ceramics, even painting. The constructions by Randall Won engage a variety of media, from ceramic to cardboard, challenging the textural and dimensional capacity of his supports. In contrast, Dave Andre produces serial motifs of pigs and doll heads that are altered and at times arranged in conceptual situations. To circumvent the numerous pre-established associations with the figure of a pig, Andre manipulates features and plays up distinct attributes to create differentiation. In one setting, the placement of plump little piggys in formation, are pressured by large piggy-banks that usher them towards their doom. The loaded image makes available for a number of readings to an assuming public.

Aleksander Bohnak, You can't see everything
(with your back turned)
, multi-media
installation, 2011
At Verge Center for the Arts, Aleksander Bohnak’s installation You can’t see everything (with your back turned) appeared chaotic, even with the encouraging sign, almost pleading: “Feel free to enter!” still left doubt to proceed. The narrow walkway with wooden boards and multicolor tape protruding from various directions looked more like an obstacle course with potential liability. Even upon entering, the configuration did not get any clearer, only the eerie feeling of being recorded by the video camera at the other end. Live feed of the participant was actually being projected on a screen opposite the entrance. The camera is staged to capture the only viewpoint of the structural framework carefully composed by the artist and designed to accentuate the unsuspecting viewer. Where the participant sees chaos, the artist created order. The free-floating experience can be exhilarating in the viewer’s exploration of space and intention, however, Bohnak reserves the revelation of his design until the viewer turns to exit and finds themselves candidly within the fixating frame. Immediately, awareness of bodily perception is triggered, causing an ambivalent response between disturbance and delight towards the directed staging of theatrics. The installation was a refreshing alternative in Sacramento’s art scene. 
You can't see everything (with your back turned) (detail)