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Special “Eye” to Watch
June Mattingly // contributing art writer
Decorazon Gallery in the historic
Bishop Arts District in Oak Cliff
“Mexican Tsunami,” the show up at the moment through June 8 celebrating Mexico’s
Bicentennial Anniversary sponsored by the Mexican Consulate in Dallas, is chock full
of exciting surprises! Hugo Garcia Urrutia and his wife MK Semos who own the gallery
and collaborate as artists and Rubén Nieto, the other featured artist in this show,
are responsible for the visually appealing, original artworks together emphasize
critical contemporary issues.
|Hugo graduated from Texas Tech University in 2000 with a degree in Architecture and
Design and founded his gallery in 2004. Co-owner M.K. Semos was born in Dallas and
received a BFA in 1995 from the University of Texas in Austin. Very well-traveled, she
specializes in portrait, fashion and interior photography.
The fact “Decorazon: from the heart” isn’t accepting submissions from artists affirms
the gallery’s success. The goal of this “intimate contemporary art gallery to present
professional emerging talent” is understated. For instance, the end of May for four
days the gallery’s participating in the Eco-Friendly Expo 2010 in New York. In 2010
and 2009 they took booths at the Affordable Art Fair also in New York – the most
au courant means for artists to broaden their audience. Unlike most galleries,
this one stays open Sunday afternoon – how nice!
|The ongoing artistic collaboration of
Hugo G. Urrutia + M.K. Semos
|“Sin Limite II,” 2010, C-Print on recycled wood, 61 x 38 inches
|First is Semos’ photography of urban landscapes and second, Urrutia’s integrating
the images into a recycled hardwood floor. The imagery is created by Semos using
a simple Holga film camera allowing her to create collages inside the camera by
overlapping frames and double exposing the film. After processing the film “story
boards” are developed. Then Urrutia enters the picture experimenting with unusual
substrates and photographic finishes allowing the viewer to experience the natural
grains and colors of the wood on which these artists’ visual interpretation of cities
from Mexico to other cities around the globe rests.
|Rubén and I run into one another at art functions, the last times at his opening at
Decorazon followed by Centraltrac’s evening opening to visit the artists in the eight
studios/living spaces behind the gallery in the residency program. Nieto, who is
working towards a Ph.D. greeted me in number six. Centraltrac, located in a
converted old building in the historic Deep Ellum neighborhood of downtown
Dallas is funded by the University of Texas at Dallas.
|Rubén explains the serious symbolism of the colorful, indestructible children’s
building blocks called Legos in his idea oriented art. In short:
“We learned as kids how to build a house in a playful way. Based on such play,
we grew up to inhabit our own home. In today’s world, living in large urban
environments, we are surrounded by architecture and urbanism. We are often
unconscious of this fact because the urban setting is part of our daily life…
“My compositions are based on aerial views from major cities around the world
taken from Google Earth… In creating opaque, monochromatic backgrounds,
I have removed the brushstrokes and the gesture from my paintings, creating a
feeling of urban alienation and autonomy where the melted pieces of the Legos
become the gesture itself…I drip paint on top of the Legos as a formal reference
to Pollock and Abstract Expressionism. Every Lego figure takes its energy from the
color ground, and is transformed into a character. I want to immerse the viewer
into the world of each painting while at the same time provoking him/her to
connect the Legos with their own urban environment in the surfaces and
architectural landscapes of my painting.”
|The passionate message in Urrutia’s self-constructed installation is to liken his
country’s struggle to deal with “socio-environmental” changes to the potential
of the tsunami “hazard,” the origin behind the title “The Mexican Tsunami.”
In Hugo’s words, a Ciudad Juarez (on the U.S. border to El Paso) transplant,
is “to bring awareness to a now immune, and in some ways defeated
community, that is numbered by an ongoing wave of violence.
The metaphoric “Tsunami” in Mexico presently is embodied in an overflow
of crime, drugs, economic disparity, and an overall sense of devastation
in most of the population.”