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Los De Abajo: Garbage As An Artistic Source

Los De Abajo: Garbage As An Artistic Source

Los De Abajo: Garbage As An Artistic Source

Galería Guadalupe (723 South Brazos Street)

Exhibition open June 10 – July 29, 2016

12:00 pm – 5:00 pm Monday – Friday


The Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center’s newest exhibition Los De Abajo: Garbage As An Artistic Source focuses in on the social implications of detritus as a vantage point to expose the view “from below.” Guest curator Andrei Renteria created Los De Abajo around the motif of garbage to uncover the lower stratum of the society. Renteria has selected 3 artists: John Atkins, Jason Eric Gonzales Martinez, and Juan De Dios Mora who have transformed unconventional and overlooked materials into the sublime and beautiful objects, but always with a critical eye.

Curator’s Notes:

I decided to curate Los de Abajo around the motif of garbage. Garbage is a great social leveler; a truth teller. That is, it can be seen as a critical vantage point from which to view society as a whole, revealing the social formation as seen “from below.”

As the lower stratum of the socius, the symbolic “bottom” of the body politic, garbage signals the return of the repressed; the trash of the haves becomes the trash of the have-nots; the dank and unsanitary is magically transformed into the sublime and the beautiful.

With great improvisational flair, Los De Abajo, appropriate the discarded products of industrial society for their own recreational purposes, in procedures which inadvertently evoke those of modernism and the avant-garde and reveal American culture as a mixed site; a point of convergence.

John Atkins:
Atkins observes man’s relationship with nature, the mechanical, and himself. Working mostly in found objects and discarded materials, he utilizes themes of industrial and agrarian iconography, while considering social protocols, man-made problems, and specific working class cultures and aesthetics inspired by his life in Louisiana and Texas. Atkins draws directly from his childhood activities where an important aspect was learning the ability to problem solve how things could come apart and go together, while discovering methods of ingenuity to handle each new obstacle. These practices of observing, collecting, dissecting, and reusing materials have played a huge part in the physical and conceptual foundations for his work, where objects are considered together and given a new narrative while expanding on their already existing pasts.

Jason Eric Gonzales Martinez:
Gonzales Martinez utilizes a mixed media format to create altars for idiosyncratic memories. Moved by spirituality in art, he communicates this by creating work that evokes ceremonial practice and introspection. His rasquache aesthetic speaks to bicultural sensibilities, as well as material application.Gonzales Martinez creates visual art that articulates his Tejano Chicano experience living in nepantla, the “in between” spaces of culture and identity. His artwork connects the contemporary with loss and re-membering; creating a site for negotiating the tangible/imaginary, the historical/personal/political, the familial/sacred. His compositions establish a visual dialogue based on a critical mestizaje, the area of overlap that constructs our identity beyond race and ethnicity.

Juan de Dios Mora:
De Dios Mora blends his hybrid Mexican culture and American experiences into a single entity and focuses on the economic, social, and cultural issues of life on the border. Using a surrealistic approach, Mora portrays characters interacting with customized devices and vehicles that are created to facilitate the daily life, duties, responsibilities, obligations, and entertaining events of the operators. Though ramshackle, decked out or shabby in appearance, the structure of each device shows the ingenuity and capability of the characters and their will to survive. Mora’s intention is to make a social comment on a culture that frequently has to rely on their surroundings to survive. Furthermore, the goal is to portray the symbolism of these devices, which means a lot to each character. Above all, the devices portray the freedom, hope and style of the crafty owners, which will last forever.


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