Monday, June 27, 2011

Interview with Ricardo Paniagua

I met up with Ricardo Paniagua at his studio in Dallas at the Continental Gin Building in the Deep Ellum neighborhood.  From there, we walked over to Murray Street Coffee Shop for the interview.
I had the most wonderful chocolate and rose petal black tea as well as a grand view of the Giles Lyon painting seen behind Paniagua in the photo above.  We spoke at length about art and spirituality, two subjects in which Paniagua demonstrated surprising erudition. He didn't want me to take pictures of work in progress in his studio.  I totally understand this since my full-time artist partner does not want me to look at him working until he is ready for me to see the end of the day's progress.  Paniagua's craftsmanship is superb, though, I must say.  His stretcher frames are square and plum and large, most as tall as me.  His 3D sculptures are sanded to perfection.  Here are a four pictures I took in his studio earlier this year at an Open Studio event:
Here are two photos of recent 3D sculptures Paniagua has created.

photos by Kipp Lott used with permission from Ricardo Paniagua
And now for our interview:

HC:  So here’s one question, and you can answer how ever you want to of course.  Is Paniagua your actual last name?
RP:  No, it’s an adopted middle name. It’s my great grandfather’s, he emigrated from Portugal to Houston, and shit, that was his name.
HC: I mean, it fits a “starving artist”, sort of, you know what I mean?
RP: well, um, you know, I’m a deep thinker, and uh…
HC: Sure
RP: well, you know, the other day Kevin Obregon came over and he was leaving, and I had just bought some really nice organic fruit, and I said “hey, Kevin come here” and I gave him some fruit, and I said “this is the best part of real life that, you know, physical life that we can know”.  It gets back into blood.  A lot of suffering happened for us to be here right now.
HC: Sure, yeah
RP: lot of suffering….And if it weren’t for the semen in my grandfather’s penis, I wouldn’t be here. And all his hardships.  But that name, as you know, means ‘bread and water’
HC: Sure
RP:  And to me that’s a very spiritual concept
HC: Yeah
RP:  And since I was a little kid, I’ve always had dreams, and I’ve always been spoken to. And, you know, that’s a very spiritual thing to happen to somebody.  Somebody who doesn’t even know who God is.  So it’s that kinda coincidence that that name is, well my grandmother uses it, my dad uses it….I didn’t find it a coincidence that that blood is who I was. I even wrote it in grade school, because, you know, I am a lot more spiritual than a lot of people, and that name is no coincidence, you know.  So that’s why I’ve adopted that name kinda as my middle name.  My full name is Ricardo, then I say Paniagua, then Garcia and then The Third.  I’m a Third as well.  It can get pretty long, I guess, if you want to be proper about it.
HC: Yeah.  I knew your last name is Garcia because I’d seen it on the mail slots when I came for a Continental Gin Studio Tour, so I just wondered about it.
RP:  Yeah, when I started getting into shows and stuff, I was submitting my whole name, because that’s what I wanted. Then it became just too much of a hassle for art organizations, for the PR departments, you know, for the news media.  You need to have something simple, you know?
HC: You do, you do. And something that stands out and is different from everybody else’s name.
RP:  That too.
(He also told me when the recorder was off that he had been in a show at the Dallas Latino Cultural Center and he had used his full name.  But the curator of the exhibition shortened it to "Ricardo Paniagua" in the media and he has used it ever since.)

photos by Kipp Lott used with permission from Ricardo Paniagua

HC: How did you become inspired to become a painter?
RP:  Oh you know what dude….well in elementary school…well we’d oftentimes be put into groups, one of us would have to do the art, an’ one of us would have to do the edit, you know all the different stuff.  I would always do the art, and I remember I would really make some badass drawings, and I ‘d say "I’m the artiste" and all this shit….even my mother said that I was doing some pretty crazy shit at two or three years old.
HC: Cool
RP: Anyway that’s what she said.  But I was growing up an’ I never wanted to be an artist, you know, because somebody told me that artist have drug problems and cut their ears off.  And I didn’t want to be crazy.  I didn’t want to be known…
HC: Then don’t eat the paint, OK?
RP: I never wanted to <be crazy>.  I was goin’ to church, and, I don’t know, I went to church one day and picked up a book, this was when I was in my late teens or early twenties, it was called “A Tree Full of Angels”.  A friend has it right now.    And I said, well, if that’s the case then I’ll go ahead and accept myself as an artist. If I have to do whatever I have to do to maintain my own integrity in the world, then I’ll do it.  So that’s when I accepted, but I’ve always been creative. I’ve always been artsy-fartsy.
(We both laughed at his flippant reference.)

photos by Kipp Lott used with permission from Ricardo Paniagua

HC: Are there any artists that inform your work, or that you hold up as Art Gods?  I use ‘Art God’ because I know that has been a title of one of your art shows.
RP: (chuckles) I like that
HC: who are your Art Gods?
RP:  I like Antonio Gaudy. I like Julian Schnabel. Nicholas Roerich. As far as visual artists go.  Heironymus Bosch – all time great, favorite. William Bouguereau is really high up on my list.  And I also like Valasquez, he was a real spiritual guy in life.

photos by Kipp Lott used with permission from Ricardo Paniagua

HC: Have you seen any recent museum exhibits that have stuck in your mind, or made you think?
RP: Well on line, I’ve seen pictures of “Art in the Streets” at MOCA. (chuckles then continues, smiling) And I don’t care for it one bit, but it stuck in my mind.
HC: Why do you not care for it?
RP: Because I think street art is too confined.  You know, why does street art have to be graffiti?  Why does it have to be with spray paint?  You know, and all this different stuff.  And that’s one thing I’m trying to do.  Well that’s actually…I’m going to be doing this show in San Antonio at ArtPace and the Guadalupe Center that deals with the issues I have with the term ‘street art’.  The Brooklyn Museum wouldn’t let that show travel there, well they said it was financial, but I don’t think it’s right to be showing all these little kids that it is cool to, you know, vandalize all these people’s personal property.
HC: I’m sure property owners will agree with you!
RP: yeah….But I did just find out that, I think in 2012, I think the MOCA agreed to give JulianSchnabel a retrospective - which is pretty insane.  Some people think Julian Schnabel is the most overlooked artist of his time…I couldn’t agree more. I mean, I would put Schnabel’s work up there with, I don’t know if Schnabel would agree, but I like his work better than Picasso.  That would be the only other museum show that I’d be concerned with, even though it hasn’t even happened yet….I just love all of his paintings, I mean they’re just awesome.  But I heard he didn’t take a bath, I heard people say that he stinks. (laughs) oh, which I’m sure is true for me sometimes too (laughs)
(We both laugh)
HC: Well, you know, you get in your own world, and that is why people think artists are crazy, right?

photos by Kipp Lott used with permission from Ricardo Paniagua

HC: So what’s a normal day like for you? Do you work seven days a week?
RP: yeah, I work too much dude.  Like yesterday I got up at 8:30 (am) and I worked on my sculptures until I went to bed at 1:30 (am), and I went to lunch, and I went to the hardware store to get my materials, and I just, like, worked all day and did facebook all day (chuckles). So like yeah, my computer is in my studio, and when I get tired of working I’ll go get on facebook, and then when I get bored on facebook I go back to working. Then I’ll just do that same thing all day.

We walked back to his studio where I had left my truck.  As I drove through Deep Ellum, I stopped and took these two pictures of wall murals Paniagua was commissioned to paint a few years back.

This painting is currently for sale at the Ro2 Art gallery in Dallas

The paintings shown in between the interview text above (photos by Kipp Lott) will be featured in juried group exhibitions this summer at Galleri Urbane Marfa/Dallas starting July 9, and Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center in San Antonio starting July 14.  Paniagua's exhibition at The Museumof Geometric and MADI Art continues through July 10.

To close, here are a few of my pictures from the opening reception at The Museum of Geometric and MADI Art:

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Magdalena Abakanowicz @ The Margulies Collection Revisited

This past January was my second time to visit The Margulies Collection at the Warehouse in Miami.  Magdalena Abakanowicz's sculptures are hauntingly beautiful themselves.  Her accompanying text sends shivers up my spine.

Hurma (Crowd), 1994 - 1995
Group of 250 figures (children and adults)
Burlap and resin

Magdalena Abakanowicz
About Hurma (Crowd)
It happend to me to live in times, which were extraordinary by their various forms of collective hate and collective adulation.  Marches and parade worshipped leaders, great and good who soon turned out to be mass murderers.  I was obsessed by the image of the crowd, manipulated like a brainless organism and acting like a brainless organism.  I suspected that under the human skull, instincts and emotions overpower the intellect without us being aware of it.

It was my ambition to speak in metamorphic language of my sculpture, about my experiences.  I wanted to warn, to provoke thinking to show to people all over the world the existential fears common to all of us, the doubts about ourselves, that we all suffer and the fears of crowds carrying the instinct of destruction of themselves and the surrounds.
Magdalena Abakanowicz, 1992

This text was also posted on the wall to accompany the text above:

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Temporary Occupants - Revisited

Eastfield College Department of Visual Arts
Second Installment of "Temporary Occupants"
April 8 - May 6, 2011

(Temporary Occupants - PR Image. Photo credit: Iris Bechtol )

The PR for this event announced:
"Artists have been invited to create temporary site referential responses to various spaces in and around the campus.  These individual projects encourage viewers to reconsider the notion of artistic "space" and how works are to be presented and viewed.  Temporary Occupants presents art objects as situations to be discovered rather than viewed in any formal or expected way.  Artists include
Courtney Brown, Mickey Bruce, Matt Clark,
Kristen Cochran, C.J. Davis, Lanie Delay,
Eric Eley, Lance Jones, Justin Shull,
Sunny Sliger and Marianne Newsom,
Sour Grapes,
Jenny Vogel, Lizzy Wetzel and Kathy Windrow."

I attended the reception on Saturday, April 9 starting at 6p.  It was one of those absolutely beautiful Spring evenings in Dallas.  Not hot and humid, not chilly, just perfect.  They served the most delicious and huge tacos from Good 2 Go Taco.  DJ Jeff Ross spun records as we ate and mingled before we each headed out to roam the campus to locate all of the work.

I'm posting some pictures I took that lovely evening.  Unfortunately, I never found the pond on the out skirts of the campus to see Eric Eley's installation. Too bad for me, because I have loved his sculptures that I've seen at Richland College and Platform Gallery of Seattle. (They represent a number of artists that I admire, but have not yet collected - hmmmmm)

First, pictures of the curators Iris Bechtol and David Willburn

Iris is on the left, C.J. Davis is on the right.  Two other roaming spectators are in the middle.

catching David in motion

I caught these two of three performers working at C.J. Davis' performance piece.  Three men - Black, Latino, and White - raking gravel. Wish I had captured a video.

Lizzy Wetzel laid out a multi-colored line of sand in the window insets the line the walkway between buildings H and L.  C.J.'s raking guys were in the gravel beds adjacent to Lizzy's installation.  Lizzy's work is still laying in place, though somewhat faded these two months later.  Yet still intriguing.

In the main quad with the tacos and music, I next encountered  Justin Shull's work.  A large trailer covered in artificial Christmas tree branches that had a birdsong audio track playing softly.  Cozy miniature library inside.

Also in the quad was this interactive installation by Mickey Bruce.  There were a couple more of these installations inside buildings on campus, but I only located this one.  Mickey made these little fingerprint clay sculptures and placed them on the wooden shelves that he also made.  The idea was to pick up one of the clay sculptures and replace with an item of your own choosing.  Temporary Occupants indeed!  I am still enjoying the little piece of the experience that I brought home to the studio.

Beyond the quad to the other side of building C, I encountered this installation by Sunny Sliger and Marianne Newsom.  These colorful streamers were fluttering gently in the balmy breezes.  I felt transported to a tropical island hula dance in the wind.

This large sculpture by Dallas street artists collective Sour Grapes is located above the fireplace in the Campus Center.  It remains to this day overseeing the students as they study and dine.

Matt Clark covered this picnic table in brown fake fur.

Kristen Cochran's interactive "high-five" installation sat in the middle of this busy sky walk.  It was friendly in a non-human sort of way.

Just beyond Kristen's installation I found this video by Jenny Vogel in front of the campus art gallery, Gallery 219.  It is an eerie apparition staged in the Eastfield College Music Practice Room then screened on a tv in another location of the same building.  "The viewer is left to wonder if, when and how the event took place.  Located somewhere between beauty and terror the project uses technological processes not to explain, but to establish the uncanny."  It reminded me of scenes from 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Kathy Windrow's installation consisted of rain gutter, pink tape and flags, sawhorses and stryofoam.  I wonder if this references equipment used on her archeological digs.

lanie Delay's 'Hot Freak (Party Elevator)' lived up to its name, even if it was a one floor ride.  What a ride!  Blaring disco music, metalic streamers, two party girls showing every rider a good time.  I wanted to be glittered, but they painted one of my thumbnails bright whore red instead - poorly.  This wasn't a nail salon after all!  I laughed all night and used Goo-Gone the next morning to get it off.

Lance Jones installed this vinyl print of a chandelier in a narrow hallway behind the stage in the Performance Hall.  The wall is about 30 feet high.  Lance said he was very nervous installing this piece.  It was dizzying to view, but worth the extra effort to find the space and quietly view while a performance was in progress.

I realize, now, that I missed several of the works around campus including that of Courtney Brown.  Lizzy states on her website that she created three installations around campus, but I only found the one.  All in all, it was a great evening of an adventure in art.  I have works by David Wilburn, Lance Jones and Matt Clark in my collection, so it was exciting to see what they each curated or created for this evening.  As the sun set behind building G, I headed home.  Perfectly beautiful evening of art.