Citizen Staff Writer
At the July opening reception for the current exhibit at Raices Taller 222 Gallery and Workshop, the rains came down. It was well into the event, artist Ruben Urrea Moreno recalls, and the cozy, brick building on East Sixth Street was packed.
It was a little piece of perfection: The show is “Todos Mojados: A Monsoon Exhibition,” ongoing through Aug. 23. Attend the closing reception 7-10 p.m. Aug. 23 to meet the artists in the collective exhibit – and, hopefully, help bring a bit more rain.
Raices holds a monsoon exhibit annually, gallery co-founder John Salgado says, and the theme changes every year.
“This year it’s mojado, so you could take a political bent if you wanted to,” Salgado says. Mojado means wet, but it can also be a derogatory reference to an illegal immigrant.
A handful of artists took the slang definition head on, including Francisco Campista. His graphic “Americanization,” the words el borracho (the drunk) prominently placed, depicts a brown-skinned man scratching his head, a skeleton behind him.
With some 50 works in the monsoon exhibit, some artists are green-minded (George C. Penaloza’s “See How You Like it!” sculpture repositions man as shower head), some offer landscapes (William Handleman’s watercolor “Quaymas Sunrise or Sunset”) and some find inspiration in a good storm (Paco Velez’s mixed media “Krak/A/Boom”).
Moreno, a newer artist to the cooperative gallery, went more autobiographical with his “Visceral Waves.” The 32-year-old says he doesn’t set out to tell personal stories in his works, “but I seem to, more often than not.”
“Visceral Waves” is filled with both history and perspective. A sharply dressed woman (Moreno’s mother, he says) in full color holds a boy (Moreno), who is sketched in black and white. (“He’s undeveloped. Your parents have a lot to do with shaping your identity.”) The full wash in the background holds a red car, a reference, Moreno says, to when his mom’s new Audi was swept away during Tucson’s 1983 flood.
“My biggest kick is surrealism,” Moreno says. The work certainly has that blending of the conscious and subconscious worlds, as does his other piece in “Todos Mojados,” “Dream Harvest,” a woman’s arms outstretched to receive horses falling from the sky.
Moreno was on duty at Raices as he spoke about his paintings, as members contribute their time and labor. All have access to a workshop, so, ideally, younger artists can work alongside more established artists, Salgado says.
A member of Raices for about nine months, Moreno says his commitment to the gallery has motivated him.
“They keep me so busy,” he says, adding that he produces new works monthly for exhibits.
Moreno says he also finds inspiration from his fellow Raices artists, who range from longtimers (David Tineo) to newbies (Noreen H.F. McNair).
Head to this varied exhibit with some two dozen artists and you might just get drenched in inspiration, too.
IF YOU GO
What: “Todos Mojados: A Monsoon Exhibition”
When: 1-5 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays through Aug. 23; closing reception 7-10 p.m. Aug. 23
Where: Raices Taller 222 Art Gallery and Workshop, 218 E. Sixth St.
Info: 881-5335, raicestaller222.org