Now showing at KHFA

More Contemporary American Art

Curated by Benito Huerta, and featuring Richard Armendariz, Connie Arismendi, Debra Barrera, Alex Diaz, Carlos Donjuan, Gaspar Enriquez, John Hernandez, Cesar Martinez, Gabriel Martinez, Diana Molina, Celia Alvarez Munoz, Andrew Ortiz, and Giovanni Valderas
October 7–December 23, 2023
Opening reception Saturday, October 7, 5:00-7:00 pm

Celia Alvarez Munoz, De Carne y Hueso/Of Flesh & Bone, 2023, digital metal prints, triptych, each 5" x 7"

Celia Alvarez Munoz is a conceptual multi-media Texas artist known for her diverse works including artist's books, photography, installation, and public art. She is a recipient of two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship Awards in Photography and New Genres; CAA Committee on Women in the Arts Recognition Award; Honors Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Arts by Women's Caucus for Art; the Outstanding Centennial Alumnus by the University of North Texas College of Arts and Sciences; and many others. Her work has been nationally and internationally exhibited, and included in the Whitney Museum of American Art 1991 Biennial. Her work is in numerous private and public special collections of major museums, universities and corporations.

Giovanni Valderas, a native of Dallas, is an assistant professor of drawing and painting at Texas Woman's University. Previously, he served as Exhibition Manager at the Fort Worth Community Arts Center, Assistant Gallery Director at Kirk Hopper Fine Art and the Gallery Director at Mountain View College. Valderas graduated from the College of Visual Arts & Design at the University of North Texas with an MFA and has taught painting and drawing courses at the University of North Texas, Richland, and Mountain View College. A former member of 500X gallery, one of the oldest co-op galleries in Texas, he has had work featured in the 2013 Texas Biennial; New American Paintings Magazine; Impossible Geometries, Field Projects, New York; and 14x48's temporary billboard public art project. A recipient of the Moss/Chumley Award and a microgrant from the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas, Valderas has also served as an appointee by the Dallas City Council as Vice Chair of the Cultural Affairs Commission. In 2018, he resigned from his reappointment to the Cultural Affairs Commission to run for Dallas City Council to represent the neighborhood he grew up in; he led a grassroots campaign and placed a strong second.

Carlos Donjuan, Bandit: beginning of the end, 2023, watercolor on paper 10" x 8"

Carlos Donjuan, Just Watching, 2023, watercolor on paper, 10" x 8"

Carlos Donjuan, a graffiti artist for the past decade, has been creating art since he was old enough to wield a pencil. His art is powerful, yet playful, and often depicts sub-cultures that the artist is interested in or involved with. His graffiti reflects his interest in street fashion, underground music, and the diverse and always changing culture he hails from, while his portraiture is more classic, mixing old and current ideas to create a statement about his surroundings that is fresh and new. Donjuan's main goal is to showcase both the influences from his origins and his training in academia. Carlos Donjuan, who is currently completing a Masters in Fine Art from University of Texas San Antonio, credits the tough neighborhood he grew up in, for his inclination to depict street life in his work.

Gabriel Martinez: My art explores relationships produced by the built environment and the body's experience of history. The city is the site and material of my art, particularly those elements relegated to the margins visually, psychologically, and historically. Through the use of found materials and the history of specific contexts, the artwork explores the conditions of environmental injustice which disproportionately affect working class Black and Brown bodies. My art is based on the concept of rasquache, a theory which informs all of my cultural production and highlights the use of everyday materials. These hand-stitched paintings are created from garments, found in the street on my movements across sections of the city. They situate the artist as one body among many involved in the manipulation of the material. The paintings record the traces of global capital, evoking those who dyed and printed the fabric, those who assembled the garments, the people who wore and lost them, as well as the artist who places them back into circulation as luxury objects. They are an invitation for the viewer to consider not only their formal composition and the laborious nature of their production but the disjunctive economies that enable such value shifts.

Richard Armendariz, The Reluctant Leader, 2020, woodblock print, edition of 6, 22" x 22"

Richard "Ricky" Armendariz was raised on the U.S.-Mexico border, a region that heavily influenced his artistic, aesthetic, and conceptual ideas. Images that have cultural, biographical, and art historical references are carved and burned into the surface of the paintings, drawings, and wood blocks. He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Texas at San Antonio (1995), and his Master of Fine Arts from the University of Colorado at Boulder (1999). Armendariz is currently a Professor at the School of Art, the University of Texas at San Antonio where he teaches painting and drawing. In 2008, he received the Artpace Supplemental Travel Grant for travel to Mexico City, Mexico. In 2013 was an artist in residence at Kunstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin Germany, and in 2018 and 2022 Anderson Ranch in Snowmass Village, CO. In 2017 he was the first artist in residence at the DoSeum in San Antonio, TX. International exhibitions include: Liminal Space, DMZ Museum, South Korea (2018); Common Wounds, Bethlehem and Tel Aviv (2005); New Prints, Kunstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin, Germany (2013), Texas Contemporary Art, Lalit Kala Academy, New Delhi, India (2015). He is in the permanent collections of the San Antonio Museum of Art, McNay Art Museum, Denver Art Museum, Davis Museum, Wellesley College, the Bush International Airport Houston Art Collection, and the Cheech Marin Collection.

Gaspar Enriquez: In this body of work, the images are metaphors for pages in a visual novel portraying a subculture that has endured in the Mexican American community since the second World War. One is born a Mexican American, but one chooses to be a Chicano. Politically charged, the Chicano lifestyle has been passed from one generation to another. It has survived wars, prisons, and strife. The images reflect a lifestyle and an attitude dominant in the barrios. This style is identified by dress, mannerism, and language. Many Chicanos use a slang called calo to communicate and, when it was allowed, many developed their own sign language to communicate with loved ones incarcerated in the county jail. Standing in the streets below the jail, women would sign to their boyfriends held in cells on the upper floors. This activity no longer takes place since the windows of the jail have been covered. The work deals with individuals whose lives have been a part of my environment. They are individuals who remind me of friends and acquaintances I grew up with. The work is not a crusade to change lives nor is it an effort to pass judgement. It is up to the viewer to judge and interpret. These images invite the viewer to come into contact with some of those who populate the Chicano world. As long as there is poverty en el barrio (in the neighborhood) this lifestyle will endure my generation and generations to come. An identity is important to all of us. This lifestyle reflects the avenue some individuals take, searching for an identity and self esteem.

César Martínez: Simply, the Bato/Pachuco Series started as an attempt to depict the Chicano zoot suiters of the 1940s and their 1950s and 1960s counterparts. Most specifically, those that interested me were from my Laredo, South Texas origins. It took a good few years, from the early 70s, when I conceived of the idea, to the actual creation of the first tentative images in 1977. I had taken a trip to California in the early seventies, met many of the active Chicano artists and seen their work, and had been particularly impressed by José Montoya's Chucos and by Salvador Torres' unflinching portraits of Chicanos, Chucos included. The images lingered in my mind. I figured that I had a lot to say on the subject, but was at a loss as to how to go about it and it had to be different from Montoya and Torres. It took a lot of thinking to come up with a "format" to present these characters and I drew on a lifetime of interest in art history to come up with it. Over the years, I've heard much said about my "style" but, in truth, I have very little interest in style. It seems superficial to think in those terms. Over the years I've dealt with a number of themes and have had to figure out the best ways to present them in a format, and I guess that the important thing has been conveying my agenda rather than perpetuating a style. Which is why one series looks so different from the other. I've had the experience of being at the opening of my show and someone who knows me asking "Where's your work?," while looking around to other rooms or parts of the gallery to find my work, when in fact we were surrounded by it. As I created the first images, a logic evolved, with an undercurrent of ideas that needed to be addressed. Pachucos were starting to be depicted in the media and in Zoot Suit, the musical and the movie were entering the American mainstream consciousness. The inevitable stereotyping had to be dealt with, along with issues of skin color, knowing one's place, alienation and so forth. In order to fully cover the range of my subject I've been able to operate in a range of modes, even superficial at times, but in the end depth has been the result and that overcomes any exterior stigmas.

Andrew J. Ortiz, Leap, 2023, archival pigment print, 34" x 14"

Andrew J. Ortiz: I started out my artistic career as a photographer and began experimenting with computers as an artistic tool in 1994. At that time, I was using digital image making in conjunction with photography, mainly to conveniently collage photographic images and incorporate text into my work. Over the years the work has become more abstract—more reliant on visual symbols rather than written language to create the narrative. My current research began from a body of work titled "Measured Disorder" that I started working on in 2011. It is a highly personal narrative of my lifelong struggles with seizure disorders. Often dark in both emotional content and physical appearance, the images are computer-manipulated collages of original photographs and scanned items that seek to express the intense psychological impact of dealing with physical challenges. The images in the series are meant to express both a process and an experience—what it's like having seizures as well as the medical "measuring" one undergoes on an ongoing basis, sometimes disembodied, sometimes clinical, sometimes mystical, the images attempt to communicate my varied experiences with epilepsy. Three years ago, I started experimenting with even more abstract work utilizing the idea of EEG graphs that map brain wave activity. At the same time, I went back to printing the working a panoramic format that I had not used in many years. The concept underlying my work, seizure disorders and their associated issues, remains the same, but the presentation mode has been expanded over the past six years. So far, this seems to have been a successful direction to take, as the work has been selected for inclusion in several juried competitions and open calls for exhibitions in the past year with several more coming up in 2024.

John Hernandez: Gazing from the rooftop of a downtown hotel managed by my grandmother, it was the best of nights, Surrounded by movie theaters, bookstores, a yearly carnival, it became a place that sparked my imagination. A pantheon of characters, cartoons, monsters, magazines, carnival rides and sideshows, newsreels, wall murals, comedies, and history. All to be tattooed into my mind to become a kaleidoscopic montage of images that told tales from my daily planet and become my 3-D works of art. Like a Cheshire Cat waving its right paw round, "we're all mad here." Works filled with a pantheon of cartoons, easy riders posing a Saucerful of Secrets at the Gates of Dawn, and Godiva the never maid awaits by the watchtower. Yeah, a come-along for all.

Diana Molina, artist, curator and author of Icons and Symbols of the Borderland, Art from the US-Mexico Crossroads has served as the creative director for the JUNTOS Art Association since 2012. Born a half mile from the U.S.-Mexico boundary, her work across diverse mediums explores the limitations of life on the fringe while appealing to a universal audience. Drawn early to Arts and Science, Molina began her career path as a software engineer in the initial stages of robotics and automation at IBM. This was followed by a decade working in Amsterdam as a photographer and writer for international magazines including Elle, Esquire, Geo, Marie Claire, National Geographic Traveler, Vogue and in the book Amsterdam, Small Town Big City (1996). She also created photographic collections for the Netherlands Bureau of Tourism, Greenpeace, and Gamma Press, with world-wide distribution. Living among the Tarahumara of northern Mexico for long periods, Molina's first solo exhibition about the indigenous culture was prepared for the World Museum of Art in Rotterdam. Her exhibits have been widely shown in art, science and history museums in the United States and Europe and several of her photo essays are archived at the UT El Paso Special Collections Library and the UT Austin Benson Latin American Collection. Molina is part of the New Mexico Humanities Council Lecture Program and continues to build on her interest in the connections between art, ecology, and humanity. She was awarded the 2022 New Mexico Magazine True Heroes Award for her community work related to arts and culture.

Debra Barrera is a conceptual artist whose multidisciplinary practice focuses on her identity as a Mexican-American Latina, reimagining the art historical canon, male/female idealizations and their conflicts. Her work employs formal methods like hyper detailed drawing and traditional photography, and informal methods such as found objects or ephemeral sculpture. In every work there are layers of spatial, historical, and conceptual information for a viewer that can be guardedly deceptive and willingly vulnerable at once--a disruption of the expected landscape. She graduated with an MFA from the University of Houston in and has been included in numerous exhibitions nationally including a solo exhibition at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston as well as exhibitions at the San Diego Museum of Art, and the Art Museum of Southeast Texas. In 2015 Barrera was artist-in-residence at Rice University's Department of Physics and Astronomy where her work is now a part of the public art collection.

Connie Arismendi is a nationally recognized sculptor and installation artist living and working in Austin, Texas. She received a BFA from the University of Texas and an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her artwork is shaped by emotional and intellectual concepts of family, memory, and spirituality. The processes used in garment production are central to her work as a sculptor and conceptual artist. Connie is known for innovative projects, from large-scale architectural installations to freestanding sculptures that combine a wide range of materials. Her work is emotionally intimate and unabashedly feminine. She recently completed a year long residency at Flatbed Press Contemporary Prints. She worked closely with master printer Kathy Brimberry, to produce EVERYONE, a series of large scale monoprints and chine collé etchings. EVERYONE is based on the political turmoil of the past few years and the anxiety of life in quarantine. Arismendi was recently awarded a 2023-24 NEXUS grant from the City of Austin to create an installation with a spoken word audio component. Her work is in major public and private collections in the United States and Mexico, including the Blanton Museum of Art and the State Department Permanent Collection at the Embassy of the United States, Belmopan, Belize.

César Augusto Martínez, La Perla
Giovanni Valderas
Gabriel Martinez, Untitled, 2022, found fabric, 16" x 12"