Last year, Park City’s The Kimball Art Center introduced its first Arte Latino, an exhibition and celebration of Latino art and culture. The second installment of this annual event, Arte Latino; A Celebration of Latino Art in Utah is now on display in all galleries of the Center.
Many of the artists featured in last year’s show, such as folk artists Peruvian Ernesto Apomayata |1| and Chilean Elena Sepulveda, have returned to brighten the snow-laden ski town with the colors and movements of warmer climes. This year’s sequel, as is the case with all good sequels, also introduces some new characters, including El Salvadorian painter and printmaker Karen Dreyfus.
Dreyfus was born in San Salvador and spent part of her childhood in California before moving back to El Salvador where she completed High School. Following graduation, Dreyfus pursued her art education in New Jersey and, later, finished her BFA with an emphasis in Printmaking at the University of Utah.
Dreyfus’ mixed media portraits represent her interpretation of anonymous people’s lives from the past. |2| Old sepia and black-and-white photographs are used as the main source of inspiration for the construction of the portrait. Although there might not be much information in the photographs at first glance, small hints about an individual’s life are revealed at closer inspection. Costume, facial expressions, and demeanor hint at an individual’s identity and spark an idea to their profession, condition or path of life. Dreyfus collects additional paper sources like pieces of old newspaper, magazines, and music sheets. This collection of information becomes the densely collaged surface on which the portrait is painted. Both photographs and other paper sources become a narrative that describes the character and ultimately, births a new identity.
The collage backgrounds of her portraits could almost stand separately, yet her combination of portraits and backgrounds give a deep experience to the person viewing and appreciating her art.
This year’s Arte Latino introduces other Latino artists to the Utah art scene. Anderson J. González, a native of Caracas, Venezuela is currently pursuing a Bachelors degree in Illustration at Brigham Young University. Araceli Tarras |3|, a native of Mexico City raised in Spain, is a painter with a realist bent. Georgina Alvarez-Gutiérrez, a first generation American was raised along the border of San Diego and Tijuana. Her parents immigrated in 1971 from Mexico and struggled to raise five children in a Mexicano working-class barrio in Southeast San Diego. Through her camera lens, Alvarez-Gutiérrez explores the culture and lives of people in the countries she visits.
Returning artists (see March 2005) include photographer Guadalupe Sandoval Rodriguez, stone sculptor Felix Saez |4|, painters Elena Lazary |5| and Carlos Matamoros Maldonado, and Michael Trujillo, a painter whose ancestors were some of the first Europeans to settle what is now New Mexico.
Arte Latino includes well-known artists who exhibit frequently in the Utah area. Guillermo Colmenero |6|, a sculptor who learned the art of storytelling from his grandfather in Bachiniva, Chihuaha. His grandfather told him stories of meeting Pancho Villa during the Mexican Revolution and shaking his hand. Colmenero’s abuelo (grandfather) took him back to a time when he was a child in front of his family’s house by describing the smell of their clothing, the anguish in their facial expressions and their battle for independence in a handshake.
Pilar Pobil |7|, a self-taught artist born in Madrid, Spain, works in a variety of media and her work can also be seen currently at Patrick Moore Gallery in Salt Lake, and, beginning April 21st, at both Utah Artist Hands and Michael Berry Gallery in Salt Lake.
And last but not least, there is Ruby Chacón |8|, a native of Utah, who has received many local national and international awards for her artwork, which appears in prominent collections.
Chacón’s work is a constant challenge to existing ideas about identity, citizenship, and history. With her work, she insists that people recognize Latinos’ place in the past and in the present. She would like her work to provoke thought and to invite dialogue. She explains, “All the people of Utah reap the benefits of the contributions and struggles of my ancestors and my community, contributions that have long been an unspoken part of this history for centuries. It is my intention to add to their contributions and to affirm the lives of those that have passed before me by making sure their stories are well-documented and acknowledged, and that they will no longer be forgotten in public spaces.”
Arte Latino continues through April 21st. For more information visit www.kimball-art.org.
This article originally appeared in the April 2006 edition of 15 Bytes.