ART EXHIBIT: 'Calaca Press' [McAllen, through Oct. 28]October 19, 2011 3:38 PMNancy Moyer
It’s the time of year for South Texas artists to bring out the Calaveras, and Art House Studios has done it with style and freshness. “Calaca Press International Print Exchange” completely fills the three gallery spaces and features one hundred-forty small, original prints.
Nicaraguan printmaker, Carlos Barbarena, who has established his Calaca Press in Chicago, organized the exhibit. Having conceived of the idea of bringing international printmakers together, he put out a call for submissions on Facebook. The word spread from there, attracting prints from three hundred printmakers and representing nineteen countries.
“Barbarena wanted to do a show on Calacas, which is the folklore of Aztec and Mexico mixed, ” explained Reynaldo Santiago, Art House Studios’ Curator. “It’s not quite a day of the dead... the other countries and the U.S. Midwest, they don’t have a Day of the Dead, but they interpret what Calacas means in their own terms and their own culture. So that’s what we have here.”
The prints overwhelmingly depict Calaveras; some pick up on Día de los Muertos symbolism, while others are comfortably European in their stylistic referencing. Others are refreshingly non-referential.
Another print with strong, but unnerving content is “Death Rattle” by Lisette Chavez. The child's toy is shown with a skull as the rattle. There is no humor here.
“La Katrina de Azucar,” a screenprint by Marwin Begaye, uses the traditional festive Katrina image to deftly combine both humor and biting social commentary. Jauntily clustered atop the Katrina’s flowered and feathered hat nestles much of the fast food that will ultimately kill us.
A centrally placed coca-cola bottle displays the words, Enjoy Obesity, as its logo.
Liv Rainy-Smith’s woodcut, “Death and the Printmaker,” feels more European in its conceptual origin. Although the style is contemporary, the interplay of the printmaker dancing with a Calavera (death) is more reminiscent of Northern Renaissance printmaking.
Some artists pay homage to the Masters. “Jose Guadalupe Posada” by Linda Lucia Santana and Coco Rico, and “’Los Muertos’ según Francisco Marco de Goya Hernández” by Marco Hernandez, both present excellent realistic portraiture alongside imagery referencing the Masters’ styles.
The strength of this show lies not only in the quality of its prints, but also in the diversity of printmaking techniques. Fine woodcuts, lithographs, etchings, mezzotints, screenprints, and even a solar plate print are notable. This particular selection of prints weighs heavily in favor of a spread of U.S. artists. According to Santiago, the rest of the “Calaca Press International Print Exchange” collection will be shown in 2012. Perusing these prints is definitely time well spent.
Nancy Moyer, Professor Emerita of Art from UTPA, is an art critic for The Monitor. She may be reached at email@example.com
The other day I mentioned the LaCalaca Press exchange that I participated in. Often I would hear of friends participating in these during grad school but wasn't sure how to find out about them as they are not often listed on the artshow finders and such. I bumped into a nice little blog that seems to collect such information. So if you are interested in doing a print exchange, take a look here to see the calls for current projects. Or, start one for yourself...I suspect it would b
A few weeks ago I put up a post about print exchanges and mentioned that I was participating in the LaCalaca Press International exchange. They have done a wonderful job of publication of the work by uploading images of the prints as they came in. I just received an email with a digital postcard of sorts notifying me of the first exhibition to be held in Texas.
Here is the relevant info...
Opening: Friday, October 7th, 6:00PM to 10:00PM.
Art House Studios 1009 Laurel Ave. McAllen, Texas, USA.
Exhibit runs from Oct. 7th through Oct. 28th, 2011.
One of my favorite things about moving back into the arts world is discovering print exchanges. While I have not done many, (I just completed my 4th last night), they are great and a no-brainer to participate in. Not only do they get you working, they are a nice line on the CV, generally low in cost, and you get a stack of artwork in exchange for yours...as I said...a no brainer.
The image here is for an exchange put together by La Calaca Press with a Day of the Dead theme. Click on the image to see other work from the exchange on work La Calaca's website.
Each group that puts an exchange together does it a little differently. Many do not have an explicit theme like La Calaca's, and many have different sized prints and edition numbers. The image above was 7x9, whereas the one I finished last night for the Printmaking Center of New Jersey is 11x11 and in an edition of 12. PCNJ will keep 2 (one for their collection and one for the traveling show) while the other 10 are distributed randomly to other artists. In turn for my twelve, I will get 10 prints back.
This past year, one of my former fellow students organized a print exchange of North Dakota printmakers with an edition size of 20ish and a size of like 11x17. This series of prints is now traveling through North Dakota on the NDAGA circuit of galleries. So, in these cases, not only did I get stack of wonderful prints, I got a significant traveling exhibition as well for my CV.