Monday, March 9, 2009

Get ready for the arrival of artists from Pilsen!

Several days ago I made a trip to the National Museum of Mexican Art in Pilsen, Chicago to meet with artist Gabriel Villa, who generously put together "Artists of Pilsen" exhibition for us. I must shamefully confess that it'd been few months since I last visited and the trip reminded me why I should indeed do visit more often.

When I came, muralist Hector Duarte was putting finishing touches on his 150' long mural sobre lienzo, which completion were to be celebrated that night. While I don't have the pictures to share with you, I hope I can describe the work with the adjectives flowery enough to entice you to come visit on Friday and see Duarte's work that's included in our exhibition. This work stems from the traditions that we do not often see in Milwaukee and for this very reason it is worth seeing.

Duarte studied murals in the workshop of the giant of Mexican Muralism, David Alfaro Siqueiros in 1977, but aside of the scale, his work has little to do with sombre, restarained pallette and form that Siqueiros used. The mural at the National Museum wrapped around the gallery space incorporating the doorway into its composition and splinterred into a dazzle of bright, saturated colors. The splintering was also literal, as the image taking on as a subject the border fence between Mexico and the U. S. cut into the gallery space with the actual barbed wire that crowned the top of the painted barrier. Fluctuating from deep ultramarines through sensuous red and oranges and into bright, luminous yellows the image evoked a long and painful journey through night and day that scores of people undertake across the border that divides two intimately tied countries. I must say I am not a mural afficionado, but I was immediately absorbed into the flowing, dynamic strokes that zigzagged through the surface of the wall and enveloped the space of the gallery. Michael Fried couldn't have been prouder of that experience (that's a high theory inside joke, so-please-bear with me)!

Gabriell Villa, Roy.

While we do not have a spectacular mural to share with you, we have plenty of other works that all do situate themselves within the unique Mexican and Chicano heritage. Many artists, like Gabriel Villa, embrace not only Mexican tradition their work stems from, but also the urban cultures they interact with on day-to-day basis. It's a rare mix, don't miss an opportunity to see it!

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