Guest Blogger Tina Aguilar teaches Humanities and Cultural Studies at Brookhaven College School of the Arts.
Mystery and imagination abound in the current exhibition “Allegro a Color: Paintings by Rolando Rojas & Sculptures by Marco Abarca” at the Gallery at the Mexican Consulate. This summer exhibit brings two Oaxacan artists together for an experience of Mexican culture. Thanks to the thoughtfulness and cultural presence of The Honorable Juan Carlos Cué Vega, who serves as the Consul General of Mexico – Mexico’s advocate for our growing Hispanic community – and his cultural diplomats, we have the chance to experience the heart and inspirations of Mexico. The Mexican Consulate attachés lead the day-to-day government affairs and maintain advocacy for the Mexican foreign-born people residing in our city. Dallas is one of the top three American cities with the largest Latino populations – Los Angeles and Chicago complete this current trinity. The Mexican Consulate functions as a resource for the Mexican community with an array of services and has a responsibility to promote Mexico’s rich legacy across North Texas. This means there is an abundance to savor and learn in our communities, and this week’s visit is with Adolfo Ayuso-Audry, Consul for Cultural and Economic Affairs. I took a tour of the gallery, shared time with him and his charismatic colleagues, and embarked on a journey and conversation about the artists and the Mexico 2010 plans with a few follow ups via e-mail.
Rolando Rojas and Marco Abarca invite viewers to explore Mexico’s culture with a kaleidoscope of indigenous imagery, lyricism, stories and mysticism. These attributes strengthen our cultural understandings. With the use of Oaxacan earth, childhood memories and whimsical sentiment, each painting or object holds a curiosity and remembrance of not taking life so seriously that we forget to examine our internal vibrancies. Just like water, art replenishes us and gives us nourishment to carry on with our day-to-day lifestyles. In the Mexican culture we are fiery, humorous and embrace our life experiences:
Tina Aguilar: Tell me about the vision for the Gallery here at the Mexican Consulate.
Adolfo Ayuso-Audry: We want to promote the Mexican culture and continue to develop ideas about putting together potential partners … This means looking for individuals who can share our vision with an open mind. It is about understanding who can help us and who else has something interesting to share with the world.
T.A.: How did you find these two artists?
A.A-A.: We have partnerships with the other consulates across the country. Rolando’s work was recently in Houston, and it worked to bring his art to Dallas. I learn about things from the other consulates, and it works out between us to share ideas and information. For me, it’s just normal to find ways to work in the community.
T.A.: Rolando’s work exudes lyricism and exuberance. Upon first glance, I respond to the intensity of the melting hues, forms and dream sensations with the lanky forms that lead the eye to recognize an instrument or mythological duality of animal-human form. How do you describe his work?
A.A-A.: Rolando’s work explores the mystery of life and allows us to ask questions. There is a special light in Oaxaca, and he enjoys the realities and variations of night and day. Being from Oaxaca, many of his explorations concentrate on the vibrancy of his rich Zapotec origins. … His work includes Oaxacan earth in the paintings. The figures in these paintings compliment the playful work of Marco Abarca, an artist who fell in love with Oaxaca. His sculptures remind us to use on our imaginations. Some themes present in his work connect to legends, stories of inspiration and humor.
T.A.: While the Houston Consulate was your partner for bringing Rolando’s work
into the Gallery, can you tell me about finding Marco’s art?
A.A-A.: I heard about Marco reading a message from the Mexican Consulate in Boston, where the pieces were exhibited three years ago. We have an intranet where all the Mexican consulates and embassies post their events, and this is very helpful because it gives us ideas about possible exhibits we can do.
T.A.: How do these sculptures and stories tap into our curiosity?
A.A-A.: Marco likes to write first and then plans and works on his creations. He is from Veracruz, and after traveling visited Oaxaca and decided to make it his home. His studio is amazing to see with his toy-like space. He takes pieces from what is around him, like the eyes in this piece may be from dolls or old broken statues. He asks us to examine our current experiences. Marco also includes a sense of humor in his work and connections to the history and culture of Mexico.
T.A.: Both artists express a sense of mystery, humanity and the rich heritage of Mexico. How would you describe their creativity and passion?
A.A-A.: I believe both artists see things regular people are not used to seeing. They are trained that way. Viewing Rolando’s and Marco’s art just opens up for us other realities, and therefore we can be very grateful to them. Rolando and Marco’s work also reminds me of Chagall’s quote that says: “We all know that a good person can be a bad artist. But no one will ever be a genuine artist unless he is a great human being and thus also a good one.”
T.A.: Tell me about some of your art relationships and how you develop them.
A.A-A.: The Crow Collection of Asian Art has been very generous, especially with lending us pedestals for Marco’s sculptures. We have strong relationships and are currently working with the Dallas Museum of Art, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, and the Lone Star International Film Festival. We are thankful for our partnerships, and I am able to pick up the phone and propose an idea. If I find a connection or something of interest, we move forward and see how we can make it happen. There are ways to accomplish ideas, and we tend to focus on what one can do. We want to do new things, and we don’t follow a linear way of thinking. Many organizations have a limited budget in this economic climate, but that doesn’t mean that projects can’t happen. By changing the order of things, we choose how to work with others and make an effort to bring our culture to the community. We work with what we have, and that means utilizing local resources and finding solutions.
T.A.: Each one of these paintings and sculptures in “Allegro a Color” tells a story and represents the value of imagination. What do you hope visitors can experience and learn about Mexico?
A.A-A.: With this exhibit, I hope people remember the value of our artists and become more proud of our cultural heritage. Our cultural roots are something we really should acknowledge and is something that makes us stand out on an international level.
T.A.: You have told me about your cultural philosophy, community partnerships and bridging ideas, but can you elaborate about the importance of this Gallery in our community? Having been in the new space a little over a year, would you like to highlight a few accomplishments and goals?
A.A-A.: Yes, one of the ideals of the Gallery at the Consulate is to make it part of the cultural offerings in Dallas. We want people to look at this place as a distinguished destination of quality exhibits from Mexico. We always have the challenge of finding new resources and funding for our projects, and we would like to have a fixed person doing tours all day [and] offer it as a space for public readings. We have even thought about the possibility of starting Spanish language courses, but until we make this a reality it will take some time and planning. In terms of the exhibits, we will be having a great opening in September with Gray Hawn’s photography, and we will close the year with three exhibitions by Francisco Toledo, one of the best living painters that we have in our country today.
T.A: Tell me about your culinary partners who help you with another integral part of art events -your receptions? At the opening you had a special guest in addition to the artists?
A.A-A: Yes, we are thankful for our local resources. Jorge Levy from Desperados and Alfredo Duarte from Taxco Produce have been very generous with us when we have exhibit openings. They are amazing people who have understood that it is only by giving that you are able receive. We are grateful that we have them close to us. During the opening we also had the personal chef from Rolando Rojas visiting Dallas all the way from Oaxaca to cook traditional Mexican recipes. He did some tacos with goat cheese, duck and tamarind sauce, apart from other things. All was gone very quickly! We try to make the openings as interesting as possible for the visitors, and we give a lot of value and respect to their time.
T.A.: And with this year marking the 200th anniversary of Mexico’s Independence and the 100th anniversary of the Mexican Revolution, the Mexican Consulate offers North Texas a vast spectrum of cultural experiences.
A.A-A.: Yes, each month we offer many opportunities with the generous support of our arts partners across Dallas and Fort Worth. We hope the community enjoys and experiences these festivities.
The Honorable Juan Carlos Cué Vega, Consul General of Mexico, extends an invitation to the Gallery at the Mexican Consulate. E-mail: [email protected] to schedule a visit. And keep an eye open for more information about México 2010: Bicentenario Independencia and Centenario Revolución.