"¡Americanx!" exhibition name is inspired from the gender-neutral term LATINX, which was accepted into Webster's Dictionary in September 2018.
Proposed exhibition graphic by Ed Fuentes
The Donna Beam Gallery will be contributing to the UNLV College of Fine Arts Annual Art Walk with ¡Americanx!, the first group exhibition featuring local Latin artists – perfectly suited for a campus that has been moved to the top of U.S. News & World Report’s annual listing of the most diverse universities in the nation. A rush of PR was based on the 2018 list that had UNLV -- with an enrollment of “Hispanic” students reaching 29 percent -- in a three-way tie with Andrews University and Rutgers University. Just released is the 2019 list that places UNLV in a two-way tie with Rutgers.
That gives “¡Americanx!” multiple layers of meaning and intent.
“I had thought about organizing an exhibition of Latino artists off and on for several years. But it was on a smaller scale of maybe one, or two, or three artists,” said Jerry Schefcik, director of the Donna Beam Gallery, who was eyeing touring exhibitions of Latin and Chicano art, including those featuring the Cheech Marin Collection.
There has been interest from UNLV to present contemporary art from the Americas. In 2015, “Through Windows, Through Curtains, Call On Us,” curated by Art History Professor Robert Tracy, featured the work of four Cuban artists, making that UNLV’s first group show focused on Latin works. Yet, local artists were not given many ways to think local exploration of Latino/a/x works would be noticed as contemporary art, or if there would be a chance to presented as a group, as seen in other urban art cores around the Southwest.
If there has been change, that must be credited to UNLV alum Justin Favela, who has increased his national reputation as an artist and raised the profile of the area with the podcast Latinos Who Lunch, which he is a co-host and co-producer with art historian Emmanuel Ortega. A few weeks before the opening of my thesis exhibition in Spring 2018, I adjusted it to focus on Post-Chicano art themes and was noted as the first solo Latinx Art exhibition.
Now Schefcik is leading the charge through "¡Americanx!, which is co-curated by UNLV Faculty Member Salgado and me. Between the three of us, we shared information on Latino/a/x artists producing works in the region. The list grew quickly. “I was aware of a number of artists, but I knew that there were probably more that I was not aware of. There are probably more still that I don't know about,” says Jerry. “It was exciting to learn of Latino artists in Vegas, and the possibility of a second edition of this show is good.”
The artists in the region are not just representing Las Vegas natives and transplants, but other Latin American countries, which shifted to the idea that the final works were not just specific to Chicano art themes. “The definition of artist expanded too. The addition of pop culture artists in this venture in an exciting element of this exhibition,” says Jerry.
October 1 – 27
The Donna Beam Fine Art Gallery
Opening Reception: Friday, October 12, 5 p.m. – 9 p.m.
(During the Second Annual UNLV Art Walk)
Artists: Omayra Amador, Yasmina Chavez, Orlando Montenegro Cruz, Natalie Delgado, Lolita Develay, Justin Favela, Ed Fuentes, Tony Gomez, Adolfo Gonzalez, Karla Lagunas, Raymond “StingRay” Pratt, Krystal Ramirez, Fernando Reyes, Miguel Rodriguez, Checko Salgado, Javier Sanchez, Sunday Slackers, Jess Vanessa, Luis Varela and David Velix.
2018 UNLV College of Fine Arts Annual Art Walk
October 12, 2018
5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
UNLV College of Fine Arts unites to celebrate the arts.
5:00 - 7:00 p.m.: Guests are invited to begin their evening at the Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art, where they will enjoy the opening of the Tamar Ettun's, Jubilation Inflation, a participatory installation of inflatable spaces, performance, and sculpture. Also enjoy new and exciting exhibitions at Donna Beam Fine Art Gallery, Grant Hall Gallery, and the Jessie & Brian Metcalf Gallery.
6:30 p.m.: College of Fine Arts Dean Nancy J. Uscher leads a toast to the Las Vegas arts community at the UNLV Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art
7:00 - 9:00 p.m.: We embark on a series of art walks across the campus lawns. Representatives from the schools of Architecture and Music, the departments of Dance, Film, Art, Theatre, and the Entertainment Engineering & Design program will ensure this is a night to remember.
Detail of "The Space Between" (2012) by Ashley Hairston Doughty in "New Faculty Exhibition" at The Donna Beam Fine Art Gallery. Photo PTD
In this return of the occasional round-up of local art links and random observations grew a thread of how art heals community. October 1 challenges art in public space to do just that. One goal by Marcus Civin, new chair of the UNLV College of Fine Arts, is to heal creative infrastructure. That all had me think back on the Las Vegas artist who passed away on the morning of July 15. He loved to share his ideas and thoughts, and sometimes push, on how Las Vegas must be a stronger art community willing to heal the local art scene.
- Hammer Museum curator Aram Moshayedi opened the 2018 UNLV Visiting Artist Lecture Series. Up next is James Gobel on September 13, then Anna Wittenberg on September 20.
- UNLV College of Fine Arts 2nd Annual Art Walk will showcase works from the Film, Music, Theater, Dance, Art, Architecture, and Entertainment Engineering and Design departments. I will mostly be at "!Americanx!" at the Donna Beam Fine Art Gallery (and maybe monitoring some 2D Fundamental tricksters).
- Artist Gig Depio, filmmaker Hermon Farahi, Clark County Poet Laureate Vogue Robinson, musician Ann Parenti and myself are the panelist for the Artist at Work Series at Nevada State College on Wednesday, September 19 from 12:30 to 2 p.m.
- College of Southern Nevada completed hosting visiting artist Shona Macdonald for her painting exhibition "Overcast." On September 13, "Bleaching" artist Elena Wherry will have her artist talk and reception at Artspace Gallery. Up next in the Artspace Gallery is Bobbie Ann Howell with "Silenced Snowstorm" from September 28, through November 10, 2018. (Artist Talk, Workshop & Reception is Thursday, October 25, 6 p.m). Leila Hernandez "La Visa Negra" will be in the Fine Arts Gallery from September 21, 2018 through November 3, 2018. CSN
- CSN is currently accepting exhibition proposals for its 2019 - 2020 Exhibition Season for the Fine Arts Gallery and Artspace Gallery. Heed the call.
- "Jeff Fulmer: Desert Flora with Kristen Meuser: Abstract Sewing" opened at Priscilla Fowler Fine Art Gallery and Studio.
-There was a lot of anticipation for "Radial Symmetry" by Luis Varela-Rico. The 17-by-17-foot minimalist sculpture brings a nod to the regional Paiute Tribe to Main Street. It was approved in November, 2015. It had a ribbon-cutting on September 6, 2018.
- 'Analog/Dialogue' is a series of collage with watercolors by Kimberly Miller at Winchester Cultural Center Gallery. It runs through October 6, 2018.
- Hearts4Vegas Touring Exhibition at the Nevada Humanities Program Gallery is an exhibition that "shares the outpouring of love from the world with as many Las Vegans as possible while the community heals from the tragic events of October 1, 2017." Art Workshops led by artist, JK Russ and art therapist Sandra Schmidt will be held on Monday, September 24 and Tuesday, September 25, from 6 to 9 p.m. Hearts4Vegas.
- There is also an exhibition "intended to memorialize the victims of last year's deadly shooting and and aid in their families' healing process. The Las Vegas Portraits Project (LVPP) will feature portraits of the 58 victims of the October 1 shooting in a monthlong exhibit that will run September 17 through October 19 at the Clark County Government Center," reports FOX.
ADD: Settlers and Nomads online exhibition "Today Is All We Have," curated by Holly Lay and Mikayla Whitmore, is now live.
Okuda (Spain) Photo PTD
Waiting for the new murals to come out from the Life is Beautiful Festival is also a hint to get downtown for one more look at what is there. Limited wall space and the desert sun fading older works will have some murals painted over. This year's artists scheduled to hit the walls are RETNA (US), Andre Saraiva (France), a return of Lakwena (UK), Egle Zvirblyte, (Lithuania), AWARE (US), Sebas Velasco (Spain) and SADDO (Romnia).
Meanwhile, have two Instagrams from two local street artists.
Jerry Misko via Facebook
Also up is a new mural by Jerry Misko. It's on the Revive Apartments at Casino Center Blvd and Hoover Ave.
âAn artist reception for James Stanford's "Shimmering Zen" will be Thursday, September 27, 2018, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at Sahara West Library. "James Stanford utilizes the latest in digital art technique to create mesmerizing mandala designs from digital photos of historic Las Vegas neon signage, and architectural elements from the 1950s and 1960s. Stanford's group of intriguing digital montages convey and respond to the potency of the mandala as a symbol, and its influence and importance to Asian culture worldwide. ALSO: The North American launch for Stanford'sbook of the same name will be at Neon Museum NE10 on October 13.
Shizue Uyeda. Photo PtD
On August 24 I was at the Las Vegas Buddhist Sanga Obon Bon Odori and Bazaar Festival inside the Clark High School. That's where I met Shizue Uyeda, 95, as she looked through photographs in the traveling exhibit "Contested Histories: Art and Artifacts" curated by the Japanese American National Museum (JANM).
When Uyeda was 22, she and her family were held at the Poston War Relocation Center. Under the watch of JAMN art director Clement Hanami, samples from the archives made a Las Vegas stop during a tour of Japanese-American events in California and Nevada. The goal is to find anyone with information on the archived photos, folk art, and watercolors created by Japanese-Americans incarcerated in the World War II camps, said Hanami. One can see how art was a source for internees to practice Gaman; to face what is unbearable with patience and dignity.
A watercolor from the JANM archives. Photo PtD
"There is a lot that happens in people's lives,
but that doesn't define them as a human being, it makes them stronger"
- Dave Dave (1976-2018)
Marcus Civin and Jerry Schefcik introducing "Full Orchestra" at the Donna Beam Fine Art gallery. Photo Ed Fuentes
“Full Orchestra” was an abstract performance with a simple message. The UNLV College of Fine Arts is marching to a different drum beat on fresh legs led by the new chair of art, Marcus Civin.
Held on opening night of “New Faculty Exhibition,” the 28 minutes of non-stop drumming by seven percussionists, orchestrated and choreographed by Civin, is a call for change. After opening with a #MeToo declaration, the group built layer upon layer of rhythm on a custom table drum that Civin created in collaboration with Melissa Webb at School 33 Art Center in Baltimore, Maryland. The table and props, all made for previous projects, were given new context for the work making its debut at The Donna Beam Gallery. Each performer became an artist/musician hybrid as they moved through 3 passages channeling beats inspired prompted by Maurice Ravel’s “Bolero,” Fritz Lang’s “Metropolis,” and classical Big Band music that refers to Fred Astaire dancing with drums in the 1937 RKO musical “Damsel in Distress.”
The use of drumming was not known to everyone coming to the gallery. They came because something special was anticipated. It even brought out members of the local art tribe who have been missed, like writer Kristen Peterson. Known for her prolific art reporting career and now moving into different directions, she was glad to see it and loved it. “It reminded me of a very physical, dark symphonic work carried out with great precision and athleticism, the kind of sublime piece weighted with the drama of humanity,” Kristen said. “But it was also so beautiful that we can almost forgive this existential confusion we’ve lived with for thousands of years.”
Those who have seen a lot of art events on the UNLV campus also enjoyed it. “Playing in the shadows cast by sculpture and music percussion is so fun to see, experience and savor amidst reflection,” said Robert Tracy, the UNLV Art History professor who has also curated many experimental exhibitions.
The sound composition was led by UNLV percussion professor Timothy Jones, whose direction had everyone appear playing at same level of expressive drumming. According to Civin, Jones guided the sound to have more melody and nuance than expected. Carved wooden legs and bronze tops hats were used in solo interactions. Yasmina Chavez, who opened the evening with a reading of the #MeToo movement, gave an especially brilliant performance by expressing unleashed possibilities through physical undulation so raw she kicked off her black flats in rage and joy.
“The exhibition and performance pointed at, protested, and exorcised oppression in both academia and the nation,” says Alisha Kerlin, Interim Director, Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art. “[When] Javier Sanchez beat on the wall . . . I couldn’t help but think that it was like tapping at the cracks in the infrastructure. The performance felt like it was a reset for the semester. It felt like a timely protest and a march, full of hope.”
And full of people. The Donna Beam Gallery was packed. According to Civin, it was the largest crowd for a performance art work he has produced. The piece also introduces his missive that the door is now open for art that will reinterpret gallery space “as a protest gym.” Because of #MeToo and other social movements, Civin compares 2018 as having the same urgency as 1968. UNLV can be an institution to encourage works to “have the purpose and mechanics of protest to purge and restructure arts and academia.” Civin adds, “Change can happen through great writing, speech, and democratic process.”
“It’s wonderful to see such new and exciting work being incorporated into UNLV,” says artist Brett Holmes. “I am incredibly enthusiastic about the direction the art department is heading.”
That is part of a larger plan. UNLV is expected to be a creative leader, said Civin, who started surveying community as soon as he was appointed chair. Earlier this summer he debriefed me during a coffee meet-up, held just as he moved into town (his possessions were still on their way from Maryland). Even then he was planning how UNLV could engage with the region. He binged all summer by exploring alternative spaces off campus, listening to art leaders not affiliated with UNLV, including visits with City and County culture staffs and gallery owners.
That places UNLV in to a role beyond being an aesthetic thought leader. All the works at “New Faculty Exhibition” make an optimistic declaration that there can be fruitful growth for an art environment in a region that faces challenges to art. Now, just as each artist in the BFA and MFA programs are required to investigate their own work, UNLV College of Fine Arts may have been assigned the same task: to investigate how an art department can be an extension of the region and not just fulfill an academic mandate to produce works that meet the embodied perception of arts education.
Besides showing how art and performance can be a tool for protest, “Full Orchestra” also introduced the ideas behind outreach. After drummers were introduced as a unit, they wandered away from the table to be soloists engaged with objects staying within the community beat. “More than anything, that level of professionalism and collaboration was amazing to witness. I hope it's a sign of more to come,” says Peterson. Like drumming on a table and engaging with art objects in the same cadence, finding new rhythms on campus and stepping away to engage with community is a task that demands skill and endurance. That drum has been sounded with rage and joy.
"Full Orchestra" ensemble at the Donna Beam Fine Art Gallery. Photo Ed Fuentes
"[Cara] Cole’s redacted story loomed over us like a chalkboard-- a poem about harassment in higher education," says Alisha Kerlin. Photo Ed Fuentes
(Above and Below) Ashley Hairston Doughty's "The Space Between" at "New Faculty Exhibition" at the Donna Beam Fine Art Gallery on the campus of UNLV. Other recently hired faculty, Kay Leigh Farley, Michael Fong and Sean Slattery, are also exhibiting current work. Photo Ed Fuentes
ABOVE: Luis Varela Rico