For the fourth straight year, Austin’s Mexic-Arte Museum has chosen a curator from San Antonio to put together its consistently excellent, long-running Young Latin@ Artists (YLA) exhibition, focused on presenting some of the brightest emerging Latin@ talents. Following in the footsteps of Más Rudas, Ricky Yanas and David “Shek” Vega, the curator for this year’s show, running from July 14 to August 27, is Ruiz-Healy Art’s associate director, Alana Coates
Coates, whose day job sees her working with more established artists, told the Current over the phone that she was honored to work on this emerging artists showcase, noting that “everyone looks forward to it because it’s about who are the hottest, newest artists doing the most exciting work.”
With nearly a year to ruminate on her selections for this show, Coates explained that, in the beginning, she reached out to all her art contacts in Texas, took road trips to visit studios, exhibits and schools, looking for a long list of the most promising emerging Latin@ artists. Her goal was to show the complex range of styles and themes within Latin@ art.
With the fall election coming in the middle of this selection process, Coates reports that conceptual artists working with various themes of “cultural negotiation” (especially along gender and race lines) began to stand out as especially relevant to feature. “We’ve gone so far backwards,” she lamented, hoping like the rest of the sane world that art (or something, anything) might help us retool.
All in all, Coates has put together a provocative, eight-artist show that she sees as addressing already-important issues that “the Trump administration has forced into the national discourse.” Continuing, she noted that, each in their own way, and “through many different layers,” the artists she has chosen are “negotiating with the current climate.”
With multiple individual reactions applied to the historical moment, Coates believes that the history of the present “becomes personalized” and thus “easier to process.”
For more from Coates, check out her gallery talk on July 15 (2:30pm) at Mexic-Arte.
Here’s a brief rundown of what to expect from the San Antonio-connected artists of “YLA 22: ¡Ahora!”
Daniela Cavazos Madrigal
Born in Laredo and now based in San Antonio, Daniela Cavazos Madrigal works with the familial fabric (literally) to compose poetry that begs questions about Mexican-American identity. Often using her family’s old undergarments for material, a poignant statement about intimacy and exposure, she sews/crochets these fabric pieces into flowing works that are as striking to look at as they are rewarding to contemplate.
For this show, Michael Martinez (whose brother Mark is also featured) has used a “data-bending” approach to video, creating scenes that challenge the machismo in Chicanismo.
Mark Anthony Martinez
The current visual arts director of the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center, Mark Anthony Martinez has, working largely with neon sign art, created work for this exhibit that takes on the subject of whiteness. By flipping popular sayings to include the word “white,” Martinez has crafted visually arresting word art that confuses and surprises. This brief confusion then, hopefully, becomes contemplation on the minority experience versus the experience of privilege.
Born in Chihuahua, Mexico, and raised in Presidio, we claim Andrei Renteria as ours because he got his MFA from the University of Texas at San Antonio in 2015. Renteria’s large-scale, charcoal-looking lithographs place people he knows in poses of distress, as if they were being abducted or about to be executed. The work, which reflects on disappeared/disposed people and dictatorship, is, according to Coates, eerie because it leaves you wondering, “Is this the past, the present, or some dark image of the future?”
Using items that are, at least stereotypically, associated with Latin@ masculinity, José Villalobos’ contributions to “YLA 22” advocate the dissolving of gender confines. Thus, we get items with macho implications that are feminized in various ways: like a lacy sombrero chandelier or a bedazzled nopal on a bold pink background.
In stark black and white, Mireles’ work in this exhibit juxtaposes the profane fetishization of female celebrities with the sacred treatment of female saints. By depicting actresses as saints, Mireles challenges TV/celebrity culture and begs the question: What do we really want to value?