Beer and Loafing in Albuquerque

It’s been a week since I landed in ABQ. The city’s somnambulance settled over me by the second day, in spite of my attempt to keep up with my exercise regimen by running around and around the track at my old middle school. As usual, I came intending to use the time to work on my drawing and as usual, the lack of ambition I feel every time I set foot in this state prevented me from doing anything but sitting on the couch with a bottle of Red Stripe, watching hours of Maury Povich.

Feeling the creative urge slipping away, I went downtown to 516 Arts to see a show called “Las Hociconas” which translates roughly to “Bad Girls” or “loudmouth girls”. I have to admit to a certain bias against feminist art. The one feminist show my work was in was full of melodramatic, cliche, and frankly, poorly-executed art that I was a little sheepish to hang alongside. There were a few good pieces in Las Hociconas but there was also the usual tedious polemic, the overwrought dogma, the boring-as-hell video pieces where the artist thinks sitting naked on stage for an hour automatically = Art.

Diane Gamboa out of L.A., Rosa Zamora and Maya Gonzalez prevented the show from being a total wash, with their interesting, beautiful and intensely personal work. These three artists are able to transcend the feminist rhetoric and give us a glimpse inside their minds.

Speaking of a glimpse inside the mind…after seeing the bad girls of mexican art, I went to the Hispanic Cultural Center on the recommendation of a friend, to see the bad boys of mexican art, the de la Torre brothers.

This is the kind of show that inspires me not only to think but to make work of my own. Sculptures of all sizes, from small wall-hangings to a free-standing ferris wheel filled the rooms with noise, movement and color. The brothers’ work refers to their dual identities as both mexicans and as americans, and is made up of hand blown glass and all manner of junk and souvenier shop tchotchkes.

Olmec heads with pock-marked faces made of out of resin and pinto beans (is it wrong to think of Edward James Olmos?), totemic towers festooned with fake fur, broken bottles, glitter and rhinestones, an entire mini-trailer turned into a creepy doll house–all speak eloquently of race, belief, and the uneasy relationship between Mexico and the ‘States.

The de la Torre brothers are not shy guys. For them, the worst thing that ever happened to art is the propagation of the myth of “good taste” and their work fearlessly embraces folk art, corporate logos, and popular aesthetics. They’re not interested in subtlety–for them, more is always more. As they themselves say, they’re very comfortable with the baroque and aren’t interested in minimalism. I’m with ya, hermanos.

Comments (1) »

Leave a comment

XHTML– Allowed tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>