By Aurelio Sanchez (Albuquerque Journal)
Journal Staff Writer
Promising young sculptor Santos Contreras first spoke to ancianos, or seniors, at the Holy Family Church meal site in Albuquerque's South Valley before he created a multimedia sculpture to commemorate their lives. His sculpture, titled "Here-Stories: A Collective Look at Place and Time," reflects the seniors' proud and richly traditional lives. The piece is a collage of photographs and handwritten stories and personal histories, framed and bound by what appear to be slender twigs and branches.
"My piece commemorates the histories of their childhoods, adult lives and the community of which they are still very much a part," Contreras said. Contreras' sculpture is included in an extraordinary bringing together of contemporary Hispanic artistic expression: in paintings, sculptures, literature, literary and spoken word poetry, music, dance and performance art. Called "Latino/a Visual Imaginary: Intersection of Word & Image," the event spans several weeks this spring and will feature a series of exhibitions and performances, kicks off with an opening reception on Saturday, Feb. 19, at 516 Arts in Downtown Albuquerque. The exhibition will be highlighted with talks and multimedia installations by acclaimed multimedia artists Pepón Osorio of Philadelphia and Amalia Mesa-Bains of California. The talks are scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. Feb. 20 at The Albuquerque Museum, 2000 Mountain Road NW.
Curator Holly Barnet-Sanchez said the exhibition will examine the relationship of the arts in the Latino/Hispanic communities. "There is a long tradition in the arts in regards to the intertwining of visual, literary and performing arts throughout Latino culture," Barnet-Sanchez said. "I don't think the Latino experience is unique in that regard, but it's true that many visual artists are also writers, musicians, performance artists and actors," she said. The "Latino/a Imaginary" will examine the crossing of artistic disciplines with programs spanning visual art, poetry, music and dance, through exhibitions, talks, workshops, readings and performances. "There's something for everyone this spring, so I hope you will join us to celebrate the mix of rich tradition and contemporary aesthetics woven throughout the series," said Suzanne Sbarge, the executive director of 516 ARTS. Osorio and Mesa-Bains also will have multimedia installations on display during the project, which continues through May 14.Osorio's installation is called "Drowned in a Glass of Water," representing the stories of two families, exploring the dynamics in nourishing individuals, a family or a community.
Mesa-Bain's installation, "The Curanderas' Botanicia," explores death, healing and spirituality through the healer's perspective. The series will also feature the works of established and emerging artists, including Elena Baca, Yreina Cervantez, Santos Contreras, Kai Margarida-Ramírez de Arrellano, Viva Paredes and Spain Rodriguez. Barnet-Sanchez noted that work on producing the project began more than a year and a half ago when Albuquerque poet Jimmy Santiago Baca and Miguel Algarin, a retired professor at Rutgers in New Jersey, proposed establishing a tribute to New Mexico literary pioneer Rudolfo Anaya. The tribute will be at 4 p.m. Saturday, April 16, at the National Hispanic Cultural Center.
The spring series of programs is a collaboration presented by 516 Arts and the UNM College of Fine Arts, with the National Hispanic Cultural Center, the Outpost Performance Space, Tamarind Institute and UNM Zimmerman Library.
All programs are free, with most events taking place, unless otherwise noted, at 516 Arts, at 516 W. Central in Downtown Albuquerque.
For a complete list of events, times and locations, visit www.516arts.org.
If you go
WHAT: "Latino/a Visual Imaginary: Intersection of Word & Image"
WHEN: 6-8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 19, opening reception; exhibit runs from Feb. 19 through May 14
WHERE: Most events at 516 Arts, 516 Central SW
INFO: Exhibit is free and open to the public. There will also be an artist's keynote talk by guest artists Pepon Osorio and Amalia Mesa-Bains at 1 p.m. Feb. 20 at The Albuquerque Museum, 2000 Mountain NW. 516 Arts hours are noon-5 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays.