El Corazon de Minnesota literally translates to “The Heart of Minnesota,” but to Spanish speaking Americans, the word “Corazon” expresses meanings beyond its literal translation. Throughout my career, I have endeavored to explore the various dimensions of who I am and who people like me are through murals and paintings. In this show, I do this primarily through the use of color.
As an art student, I was told that color needed to be muted, constrained, incorporated into a theory. In other words, it needed to follow the traditions of European good taste. But from the heart of my experience growing up in Texas, in farmland, under a searing blue sky, surrounded by vibrant green vegetation, I knew that nature did not subscribe to a common muted blandness. As a child in charge of hunting snakes in the fields to protect the farmworkers, I learned to distinguish between the muted colors of harmless milk snakes and the brilliant colors of the lethal king coral snake. My grandfather who tended a grapefruit orchard, delighted in showing me the beauty of the pink heart of Texas ruby red grapefruit. The colors pink and the yellow came to me directly – and with great emotion – as my grandfather broke open a tree ripe grapefruit and held up the ruby flesh to the sun. The prismatic effect of pink, against blue, against green, and against the yellow rind will forever be etched in my memory. In this exhibition, throughout all the paintings, these colors are there for you to relish, like sun-ripened, sweet, ruby red grapefruit.
Last fall, during Hispanic Heritage Month, I was invited to produce art for the employees of 3M. Initially, my intention was to use my usual medium—paint. However, I was invited to consider using innovative 3M materials. The result of that invitation was the discovery of the potential of prismatic films and vinyls to create dynamic, reactive art. This exhibition includes works that are variations on the very same themes of my paintings, but with new, exciting and wonderous properties. Usually, paintings incorporate only one perspective. However, with the use of 3M prismatic films and vinyls, colors become mobile, to change in relation to the direction of viewing. These works invite the viewer to move and read the painting from different points of view..
Included in the show are works that startle people who know my work – works in black and white, where I have fun working the paint as if it were a drawing. I am grateful to my friend Mimi for the suggestion that I try working in black and white. Only after I finished did I tell her the story of how I submitted only ink drawings to get accepted as a painting major at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. All painting begins with drawing.
The show also includes painted shovels, which are not your typical artwork. They are tied up in the meanings of honor and mutual respect between strong leaders and their constituencies. They are acts of love on my part, taking hours and hours to produce. They are not for sale; they can only be earned.