an august convergence

Converging Trajectories: Crossing Borders, Building Bridges is an invitational group exhibition.
Of the 42 artists in this exhibit, 21 of them are based in Brazil, from the cities of Niteroi/RJ, Pernambuco, Rio De Janeiro/RJ, Sao Paulo/SP, Maraba/Para, Porte Alegre/Rio Grande do Sul. Arizona artists come out of Phoenix, Douglas, Tempe, and Scottsdale. Mexico City/DF, Mexico and Buenos Aires, Argentina artists are present. As others coming from US cities including Brooklyn, Charlotte, Chicago, and San Francisco.

One very ambitious grouping, curator Ted G. Decker brought forth upon this continent, and into our very own arts community.

At a time when Arizona is being subjected to SB1070 bad press and boycotts, it feels good to be a part of something inclusive, inviting, and by all accounts diverse and creative. And it’s taking place right in the heart of downtown Phoenix, at Modified Arts.

Justin P. Germain writes The show brings together diverse examples of contemporary art without a predisposed thematic element-seemingly the only link between the artists is the curator.  But the exhibition is not only a tool to organize and build interest in contemporary art. It serves as a framework to construct a community in which the cultures of the curator, the artists, and the viewers are brought together to re-code assumptions about group identity.  The artists are forever connected through the exhibition.  The viewer engages with the art and therefore with the artists.  Thoughts and ideas create a dialogue. Influences are made.  Connections become clear. The experience of the exhibition unifies and defines the constructed community.

The dialogue Germain refers to, is palpable. The whole experience is a professional and generous act on Ted’s part.

There’s a large variety of work: traditional/non-traditional, old media/new media, comfortable/uncomfortable, direct/indirect,  thoughtful/lively, quiet and easy.  There are  younger emerging artists, more mature artists and those in between.

I find Gustavo Artigas’ (Mexico City,DF, Mexico) Serigraphs appealing. The five on display, are part of a series titled Risk Paint Series. Images give the name of a pigment along with its health risk. As an artist who uses dry pigment regularly, I find the work not only visually striking but directly informative. Pigment, a health hazard, my health hazard. I speak with Gustavo about the series and also his other work, a video titled  Avalanche.
What does the video depict?  Opinions vary within the group. Go see it, you decide.

Gustavo Artigas (Mexico City, DF, Mexico) Cobalt Blue (from Risk Paint series)2009 Serigraph, #5 / Ed. 70 22" x 35.5"

Gustavo Artigas (Mexico City, DF, Mexico) Lithol Red (from Risk Paint series), 2009 Serigraph, #5 / Ed. 70 22' x 35.5"

Phoenician, Christ Puetz has an installation of richly colored, wonderfully textured, yet apparently sickly birds. In the beaded soft sculpture installation she calls Accidental Host, Christy refers to the cells of breast cancer, Bubonic Plague and other such diseases. Beautifully informative. Her and I discuss bacteria and the over load of fear concerning it, especially in American culture. I was going to write in our current American culture, but this isn’t new. We have quicker and easily repeated ways of distributing information and news these days. Is it growing worse, this fear?

Christy Puetz (Phoenix, Arizona, USA) Accidental Hosts, 2009 - 2010

Jen Urso, also from Phoenix, includes a large drawing previously exhibited in earlier stage. It’s been added to quite a bit, at this point. She truly, as Paul Klee would suggest, takes the line for a walk. I spent a good amount of time standing in front of the large, paper and fine marker work. Words like cellular and neural networks come to mind. But that’s not what’s behind the work for her, that’s only my interpretation.  She began drawing in January, and will continue until it’s complete. Slow, because it’s so intricate and large. Steady, because she documents the work and her days.

Leo Ayres, Rio de Jineiro, Brazil

Numerous artist use the body as subject matter. Brazilian Leo Ayres, pictured above, dropping in via SKYPE (on Saturday), alongside  his work, also plays with the idea of sexuality. A seeming delicate doily, maybe one your grandma might have on her traditional wooden end table,  turns out to be a paper cutout of what appears to be figures in various sexual positions.

Chico Fernandez also uses the body, his body, in both photograph and video. He and I discuss the comfort/discomfort people have with their bodies, and with sexuality in general, in his country of Brazil and in the US. The dialogue’s a good one.

Veronica Villanueva, currently from Scottsdale, though originally from Mexico, shows a multi-block reduction woodcut.  Hearts, hands, figures, Mayan symbols and forms fill the picture plane. A rich, deep color, texture and strong design are present. I ask her about process. She talks about the difficulty of printing this particular image, and tells of the press and its instability. Still, she pulled a great print. Printing is never as simple as it appears.

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Verónica Villanueva (Scottsdale, Arizona, USA) Life of Dreams, 2005 27.5 x 19.5"

There’s clay, plastic, video, photography, works on paper, on canvas, prints, installations: large and small, gouache, graphite, pen and ink, yarn, hair… Did I mention the hair?

This small work becomes more intimate when I realize what the grid is made of. It’s one of those things you must see in person to appreciate. Go. See it.

And while you’re there note the magical photographs of Jo Jankovsky and Robert Martinez, the nostalgic portrait (and spinning toy top) by Rafael Navarro, the rich and mesmerizing painting of Mary Porterfield, the colorful linear works of Sharon Dowell, and the striking leather image by Marco Turrubiartes.
And yes, take a look at my painting (photo in the previous post) too.

There’s still so much more I can say.

I hope you get a sense that the grouping is broad, exciting, intelligent and full. Again I’ll say,  there’s new media, old media, emerging artists, mature artists. Easy and uneasy, bright and subtle, playful and disturbing, quiet and loud, it’s all present, thanks to curator Ted G. Decker and Modified Arts.

The show has been extended though Oct. 9th. You’ll have numerous weekends, and a couple of first Fridays to attend.  Make time to drop into the gallery. The exhibit is provocative.

What: Converging Trajectories: Crossing Borders to Build Bridges (curated by Ted G. Decker)


Who: 41 artist from Brazil, Arizona, Buenos Aires, Charlotte, Chicago, Mexico City, New York and San Fransisco


Where: Modified Arts
407 East Roosevelt
Phoenix, AZ 85004-1918


When: Opened August 20th.
Will run from August 20th thru October 9, 2010
Gallery Hours: Friday evening & Saturday 1-5pm,
First Friday 6-9pm, and by appointment


For more info visit Modified Arts. Org
Or visit Ted Decker.Com

2 thoughts on “an august convergence

  1. Monica,
    Marlys and I were there Friday. We loved Veronica’s print (I am happy to see complicated and well executed relief prints anytime!) and also the dissected mermaid which we remembered seeing before. We couldn’t remember where we saw it…getting addled more and more. Congrats on the show and thanks for sharing the images of the work. It helps to remember.

  2. I’m sorry I missed both of you.
    Yes…Walmor Correa’s Mermaid! She’s mystical. I have her in the previous post.
    Thanks for your comment Wendy.

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