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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Celeste De Luna - Exhibition

TAOB Interview with Jesus de la Rosa


TAOB: Where were you born and what do you remember most about your childhood?

De la Rosa: I was born here in the Valley in the W.E. Stewart Land Company or better know as Weslaco. My mom talks about my birth all the time. She tells the story like it happened yesterday and like I have never heard it before. I have to say I had a wonderful childhood growing up in Nuevo Progreso Mexico. My mom has a bridal shop there and we used to live inside the shop. My dad made a small apartment like complex in the back of the building. The walls didn’t touch the ceiling; it was like being in a studio! Everyone on that block was new in town, mostly young couples with kids my age. Every store shared the same back yard so everyone would come out and play.
On the corner of the block there stood the only and first movie theater in town, “El Cine Gloria”. I remember watching three movies for a dime. Sometimes the kids form the block and I went to the movies as a group. These movies were mostly foreign martial arts films that were not dubbed in Spanish or had any Spanish sub-tiles. I think everyone just went to see all the cool martial art moves, which of course, we would mimic in the back yard after movie. I saw El Santo Emascarado de Plata, Cantinflas, Mario and Fernado Almada movies and a lot of mainstream American Movies. The Almada brother movies are my favorite because they are so kitsch! I also like that a lot of their movies were filmed here in the Valley!
El Cine Gloria would commission a very large canvas to be painted of the subsequent movies to be shown. Those canvases were really badly painted, but I wish I had collected all of them as well as all the movie posters. It would be so cool to have them now.
Other fond memories are of me working with my dad at his ranch during harvest season. It was a lot of fun to look at fields of sorghum and corn and stare into the nothingness of it. We would usually have lunch under a tree, where we would start a small fire and heat up some ranch style beans or anything else we had brought for lunch.
I also worked as a “bolero” and shined shoes outside my grandmother’s shop. I could keep going but I’ll stop here. Those were all some really good times!

TAOB: If you had to choose a place where else would you live other than the Valley and why?

De la Rosa: If I had my choice of anywhere it would be, Italy. I would also like to be playing pro soccer for AC Milan, as a forward of course. I’m a fanatic soccer fan. I love to watch the English league. They play with so much finesse and the fans get to sit really close to the action.

TAOB: What would you say you learned from the exhibit: "As of Now”?

De la Rosa: I needed to edit the show by reducing the amount of artists, it would have made that show come together a better, but the show was more of a survey of artists making work in the valley and put forward the question to artists in the exhibition: What are you doing right now?
Some artists in the show have never stopped working their original ideas, other showed old work and others had new work were exploring other ideas. Others had stopped and had not practiced for years. Some valley artists were upset that I didn’t include them in the exhibition. I don’t know why?
A lot of curators and institutions bring artists from outside the Valley to exhibit here. While I think that is a great thing, it is a one-way road. We need curators and our institutions to create bridge where there is an exchange between Valley artists and outsiders.
This was the intention with the exhibition, to get artists out there, even one hundred miles away. From that show I’m wondering if we Valley artists have an aesthetic? What is the South Texas aesthetic? This is a conversation I want to keep exploring. I also think we should have our own bi-annual, we used to have Art Rio Grande, but that was by invitation only. We need a juried Bi-Annual that is judged by a prominent national curator, artist or art critic.

TAOB: Your a graduate of Texas A&M University-Kingsville with a bachelor of Fine Arts, and also earned Master of Fine Arts in studio art from The Ohio State University, tell us a little on what motivated you to pursue a career in Fine Arts and return to the Valley?

De la Rosa: One motivation has been to strive for the highest academic degree in the field of studio art. The decision to be a studio artist I think came about in part from living next to the movie theater, and watching all those films. Films are just moving paintings. My mother is also very crafty and a seamstress. I have watched her work on all these very intricate wedding decorations and dresses. She is an artist in her own right. Spending every summer at the ranch also made me think about landscape, place and nature. I wanted to be a national park ranger at one point. I think those experiences indirectly informed my visual senses and still inform my work today. It also helped that my parents have always been very encouraging and of course, there was a lot of people that pushed me and helped along they way. Lenard Brown when he was at UTPA was one of those people along with Carlos Gomez at Brownsville and Santa Barraza in Kingsville. I also got to work and a lot of help from Pheoris West, Stephan Pentak, Charles Massey, Terry Barrett, Scott Kaplan and Ann Hamilton when I was in Ohio.

Studying and living outside of the Valley became really important to me, because I knew I wanted to have a perspective of my community from afar. Staying in the Valley all of my life would be like always painting one foot away from the canvas. I needed to step back and see the whole picture. Visiting a place for a while gives me some of that, but getting out of my comfort zone and dealing with a new environment on a daily basis is totally different, than just visiting. It also helped that OSU waived my tuition, granted me a fellowship my first year, and a $1200 monthly stipend. The second year the only thing that changed was that I was teaching 2D design and drawing classes, which was a really awesome! My first year all I did was paint; meet a lot of people and travel. I think having that experience would encourage anyone to pursue an MFA.
I returned to the Valley because all my famila lives here and I want to be close to them.

TAOB: What would you say has helped the creation of McAllen’s Artwalk do you see a notable movement in art from both McAllen to Brownsville?

De la Rosa: Artwalks, gallery hops, first Saturdays or Fridays are not a new thing or new idea, they happen all over the country. I think the one in McAllen was spearheaded by a group of savvy business people that own property on Main St. They understand that creating an Artwalk near their place of business would raise their property value, all this done in the name of Art.
The McAllen Artwalk is a really good thing for business and the community, but if we as a community are going to use Art as the flag of prosperity we also need to create and exhibit work that asks really difficult and challenging questions. The Artwalk also needs a venue that exhibits contemporary work that is not commercial.
The party, flash and the fluff are great and they are part of this event. There is a lot of room and need for the intellectual and non-for-profit sectors. At other artwalks around the country local Universities have opened spaces were these Artwalks take place. These spaces allow the Art Departments to present intellectually stimulating work, lectures, gallery talks, critiques and workshops to a larger and more diverse part of the community. These spaces reach out to people that would never set foot at a University function or campus. These galleries become great recruiting, teaching and outreach tools.

TAOB: As an artist where do you think success comes from?

De la Rosa: Success comes when a person sets a goal, whatever it may be and obtains it. These are different for everyone and depend on circumstance. One of my friends has a saying,”Picandole” or “siguele picando”, meaning just be “terrco with your goals”. The odyssey is the fun part. Once you reach your goal the journey is over. Then just set a new one y picale!

TAOB: What is one of the struggles you think an artist faces on a daily basis?

De la Rosa: Keeping an Art practice is very difficult; because as people we all go through very mundane situations, like filling taxes or acts of God that keep us from working. My goal has been to always work no matter the situation. Those situations may cause me to change medium. I used to work an 8-5-office job; during down time I would work on all these drawings on post-its and then go post them all over the building. Sort of like post-it graffiti, but it wouldn’t’ damage any property.
Currently, my commute to my job in Kingsville is 216 miles a day round trip. That is four hours gone out of my day; however, I been documenting my travels by hooking up a video camera to my dashboard. The video will later be edited and exhibited in the context of Art. So this is a situation that I have to deal with for now. The trick is to find the medium to produce artwork in whatever situation one may encounter and give yourself permission to do so. This has also made me really excited about my daily drives and kind a sad that they will end when I move closer to my new job. It has been a really unique situation to drive the same road everyday and notice a lot of these small changes in the landscape. There is a lot going on in the vastness and nothingness of the King Ranch. A lot of it reminds me of the summers I spent working with my father at his farm.

TAOB: What is your favorite type of music and what type of character would you say describes you?

De la Rosa: I listen, own and enjoy many genres of music. I used to play drums in a band that went by Redsofa, back in the mid nineties. We did a few gigs around the valley and recorded a lot of original music that is stored somewhere my mom’s house along with my Yamaha drum kit. I think that bug will bite me again someday.
Right now, I listen to a lot of Internet radio, mostly KEXP out of Seattle and NPR. The band that I’m listening to the most right now is Kings of Leon. Those guys are awesome, but I really wish I had satellite radio for that long commute to Kingsville!
I wouldn’t say any character describes me, but I some people tell me (more than once and at very different times) that I remind them of a bear.

TAOB: As an artist what can you say you are afraid of?

De la Rosa: As an artist Nothing, there is really nothing to be afraid of, it’s just Art.

TAOB: Tell us your view on any particular political issue local, state or federal, that is of importance to you?

De la Rosa: I think the drug war is huge issue right now. People have a violent nature and we have always lived with some violence and very complex issues on the border. There is violence everywhere, but it seems to me that respect for life is on the decline.

TAOB: Do you believe in a community of artist to be beneficial, why or why not?

De la Rosa: Yes, we need to help each other out, but first we all need to get over ourselves and get over our Artwork. Lets have a huge valley artist keg party and get a dunking booth. I bet we would have a community after that. Keg party, dunking booth and Valley Art Bi-Annual, think about it!??

TAOB: Besides family and art what else is important to you?

De la Rosa: My health. I have to lay off all the great food the Valley has to offer!

TAOB : Jesus many thanks for your time and your response to this interview it is greately appriciated.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Art by Jesus de la Rosa

This work is by Jesus de la Rosa currently on display and is available for purchase..... at Galeria 409 ...TAOB interview with Jesus de la Rosa coming soon...
Visit :

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

FREE : The Art of Brownsville Logo - SPAINTING

FREE 9 X 12 Spainting - The Art of Brownsville LOGO
Third email I receive will get this original artwork for FREE.
Winner will be replied to and noted here on TAOB....
Arrangements can be made via email for pickup and or delivery.
Rio Grande Valley Residents Only....
Many thanks for supporting local art and artists..

Saturday, March 21, 2009



Paintings by Carlos G Gómez

" PINTURErias " en Galeria Municipal de Arte "Albertina"

Art Exhibition
March 26
7pm Mexico -
8pm USA time
Artistas :

Friday, March 20, 2009


Artists List:
Jessica Rey
Richard Hyslin
Daniel Lopez
Kisti Beckwith
Brad Doherty
Chris Trejo
David Freeman
Denise LeCusay
Brian Wedgeworth
Nancy Moyer
Jessica Salazar McBride
Jesus de la Rosa
Marcia Selsor
Guy Mattie
Cliff Welty
Chris Leonard
Bret Lefler
Ben Varela
Antonio Antinori
Carol Plumb
Umberto Jimenez
Toni Hudson
Paul Valedez
Gabriel Trevino

409 EAST 13TH ST

Thursday, March 19, 2009

UTB "Student Juried Exhibition " by Pete Martinez


The Art Gallery in the Rusteberg Building at UTB/TSCPresentsStudent Juried Exhibition

Frank Barrera / Best of Show

2008 Brownsville, TX – The Art Gallery in the Rusteberg Building is proud to present the “Student Juried Exhibition”. This show consists of student work from the University of Texas at Brownsville. Juror will choose Best 2D, Best 3D, and Best of Show.

Opening reception will be held Monday, March 30 at 6:30 p.m.

Every year UTB students bring forth many creative and original pieces of art, ranging from every media imaginable, from painting to ceramic pieces to photographs. Students bring their best work to be juried and curated by a prestigious member of the art community. This year’s juror is Pete Martinez. Pete Martinez is an avid artist and educator. Currently he is an art teacher at Lopez High School in Brownsville, TX and adjunct professor at UTB/TSC. He obtained his Master of Science in Art from Texas A&M Kingsville. Martinez has exhibited at Rancho del Cielo in Ciudad Mante, Mexico, Texas Commerce Bank , Brownsville Historical Museum and many other venues. ·

Opening reception: Monday, March 30, 2009: 6:30PM·

Location: The Art Gallery in the Rusteberg Building at UTB/TSC ·

Exhibition runs from March 30 to April 17, 2009·

Admission fee: $1.00

Sunday, March 15, 2009

"Untitled' by Cande Aguilar

2008 plastic bags on panel wrapped with industrial plastic wrap, 75x66inches
Here is the peice I was talking about..which was on display at the "Green Dream " art exhibit at Galeria 409..which I thought stood out the most of that show.. truly work that , well here is what I said earlier to the artist : "this peice is everything art stands for.... you don't have to explain it , you just have to look at it, to know, that dam painting makes you feel alive".. which is kind of cool notice that I said painting because asthetically it imitates his most common style of abstract expressionist. I think he had this peice priced at about $2,000.00 at the exhibit, honestly it didn't bother me.. I actually thought this peice could command it, when you look at his work as a whole, it could be debated., that said great peice this one..

The Art of Brownsville - Blog Author:Gabriel Trevino

The Art of Brownsville
Blog Author: Gabriel Trevino
Contact: 956-525-3554

This coming week "Texas week 3/16...spring break week." I will be visiting the BMFA International Art Show and Galeria 409 Third Anniversary Art Show..I'll take my camera shoot some fotos..and let you know what was the best of the best (whatever that means) bias,,well I'll try anyways... I like to see new work sometimes work that incorporates new media some of you out there come up with some clever stuff makes my trip and search worth wild...I'm talking about hot cheeto painting, I like that peice that Cande did also with the waste bags and wrapping from his Green Dream show.."Cande send me photo of that one , I would like to post it up"., Mark Clark was part of the BMFA International art show I want to see what he entered., what else.. well I want to see who is exhibiting at the Galeria 409, same olds or any new painters on that show, any one take that guided tour to Mcallen Artwalk ? How did that work out ? Was it worth the $20 smackers.? Well just want to go see what is out there and worth talking about...... Keep you posted..oh yeah,, Anyone doing the Imagenes Studio Paseo Plaza Quarter Show in April with Toni Hudson ? Let me know I will help you with the PR if you want, send me an email......TAOB Artist Directory.. let me know if I got you on there if not shoot me your info..
Para lo de mas que los vendiga dios...hasta la vista and sainara.. como dice el Chavo del Ocho "heso heso heso"......

Saturday, March 14, 2009



Texas State Technical College
announces a call for female artists for an exhibit entitled:
Strength, Courage and Hope of Women
April 1, 2009 through May 3, 2009
Artist Reception April 9, 2009 6 to 8 pm

Texas State Technical College Learning Resource Center
"1 out of every 6 American women have been the victims of an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime (14.8% completed rape; 2.8% attempted rape).
17.7 million American women have been victims of attempted or completed rape.
9 of every 10 rape victims were female in 2008"
- Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network

A topic to be interpreted by female artists in our community, Strength, Courage and Hope of Women, will be exhibited during the month of April to highlight, Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Selected pieces will also be exhibited at the TSTC Cultural Arts Center for the two night performance of The Vagina Monologues (April7 &8). Works in all media qualify. Artists may submit one work for each submission form. This exhibition will be open to the public and encourage families to attend, therefore no sexually explicit or obscene materials will be exhibited. Selection and display of submitted works is at the sole discretion of the curators of the show. There is limited space, therefore intent to exhibit forms are HIGHLY encouraged to be entered. Artists should submit an Intent to Exhibit Form as soon as possible. No refunds will be made for any reason. Final entry forms and delivery of the work should occur between March 24th and 28th. FINAL DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSION IS March 28th, 2009 at 4 pm CST. Works must be delivered to Texas State Technical College LRC (library) 190 North Loop 499, Harlingen, Texas 78550 (956-364-4164). Delivery, packaging and retrieval and return shipping are the responsibility of the artist.

Size restrictions for 2 dimensional works is 34" wide by 48" tall, 3 dimensional works is 48" wide, 48" deep and 84" tall, video or multimedia works must fit with all equipment inside the dimensional limits of 3D works. All works must be display ready with frames or finished edges on hanging works and stable base and equilibrium on sculptural works. Multimedia works must include all necessary electrical equipment and have audio settings appropriate to their physical size, a single electrical 110 outlet will be available per work, cords must be contained and arranged to create no hazards to the viewing public.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Intent To Exhibit Strength, Courage & Hope of Women (not required for exhibition , but VERY helpful for exhibit planning)
Artist Name: __________________ Media of work: __________________
Artist Address: _________________________________________________
Artist Phone: ______________________ Email: ______________________

Please send this form to
Patricia Morales, 1902 North Loop 499, Harlingen TX 78550 OR email information to

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Texas State Technical College Harlingen
announces an exhibition entitled:
Strength, Courage & Hope of Women
Entry Form: required to be completed for all media.
This form and work should be delivered to TSTC Harlingen LRC (library), 1902 North Loop 499, Harlingen, TX 78550 between 10 am and 4 pm, March 24th thru March 28th, 2009.
Artist Name: __________________________________________________
Artist Address: ________________________________________________
Artist Email: __________________________________________________
Artist Phone: __________________________________________________
Name of work: ________________________________________________
Media of work: ________________________________________________
I understand that display of this piece is at the discretion of the curators. I assign limited reproduction rights to photograph the work to TSTC Harlingen for the sole purpose creating an exhibition program and publicity of the exhibition. I retain all other rights to the work. I acknowledge that TSTC Harlingen is not responsible for damage or loss. I will pick up the work after the exhibition between May 3rd and May 8th, 2009. (Unclaimed works become the property of TSTC Harlingen after May 8th, 2009)
Signed: _________________________________ Date:________________

Artist Statement concerning the work:

Friday, March 13, 2009

El Arte of Brownsville the Spanglish Version....Vol.1 No. 1 and a side of humor..

Everyday me levanto and checko mi email and I veo que no hay nada...I see you have no time and maybe que si and ala mejor que no, did you paint or not paint, I have no time-no tengo tiempo, I am a busy person, pero soy pintor, vez to my exhibit, CUERNOS.
Look at your big ego cabesudo not wanting to read what I write...haora que chingados quiere mister vatito Art of Brownsville..WHAT spanglish ta loco....but you know what mister chale....don't doesn't matter..porque sabes que f*** is a risk carnal....why don't you help yourself to a can of valla a la chingada...Is nothing new every artist around aqui se cree bien bule.. aint nothing to be proud of..el que no ariesga no entiendes federico...and mister don Lucas... A si!!, now you know what I am talking about.. que honda.. hay canicas y tornillos alla en el upstairs.. Entonces que esperas... get off your little trip y send me some jpeg of your pinturas FINE I can post..if you have an art event PUES hechale auga a los frijoles and MANDALO....PICTURES of original tattoo artwork welcome too, poemas, PAñO aRT, ARTE QUE VENGA DEL CORAZON....(no craft please) show your culture side of esta CIUDAD bRONsvil.... TAOB supports the art and culture of Brownsville and Rio Grande Valley y la Frontera...

MANDALO excuse me hmm,...hmmmm, yes please send it to..... :

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


Brownsville Museum of Fine ArteNews · Vol 1 No. 1 ·
March 9, 2009

A word from the Executive Director

Welcome to the BMFA's eNewsletter! Your museum is putting the latest technology in news dissemination to work to keep you in touch with your museum's growing roster of activities.Your museum isn't just about what hangs on the walls. With music, martini evenings and fandangos, you museum is a center where the arts are not just appreciated but celebrated. Come join in!Barry HornExecutive Director, Brownsville Museum of Fine Arts
P.S. We'd like to stay in touch. But if you'd like to opt out of future emailings, just click on the UNSUBSCRIBE link below.

The Art of the Martini
What better way to enjoy your museum's current exhibition, the 38th Annual International Art Show and Competition, than with good company and a good martini?The Art of the Martini will feature traditional and exotic martinis, vodkatinis and a wide variety of hors d'oeuvres prepared by Koi Restaurant.The benefit takes place on Thursday, March 12, from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Admission is $25 and tickets are available at the door. Call (956) 542-0941 for more information.

38th Annual International Art Show and Competition
More than 130 works of art are currently on display at the 38th Annual International Art Show and Competition, running through March 28.The exhibit features works by renowned Mexican artist Emilio Abugarade, who served as competition juror.

"Speaking of Art" with Barry Horn
In February the museum launched "Speaking of Art," a three-minute radio broadcast airing on the local National Public Radio affiliate station KMBH. Catch the museum's executive director, Barry Horn, in conversation with artists and community members on upcoming exhibits and events."Speaking of Art" airs every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. on 88.9 FM and 88.1 FM.

TAOB COMMENTS : "The Art of Martini"....hmm sounds great. Happy Hour is now enforced by law....And don't forget the house special its called the tricky dicky screwdriver...WAAAYYYYYTERRRRR!!!!

Monday, March 09, 2009


Third Anniversary Show

'Tres', a show of new work by various local
artist opens with a reception at 6 p.m.
on Thursday, 12 March. The exhibit will be on view
through 4 April and admission is free.
Galeria 409 is located at 409 East 13th Street and
hours are Wednesday - Saturday from noon until 5p.m.
For information 956 455 3599.

15 March Classical Guitar
22 March Noche de Peña XII
26 March South Texas Mass Choir
28 March Goodbar Productions: They N Us
Unwed Sailor
O Brother

Saturday, March 07, 2009



MARCH 26, 2009

6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p. m.Trail to Cocktails, Conversation & CreaturesLive birds of prey show in the meadow by Johnathan Wood. Custom metal art sculptures by Michael Gilbert. Exhibition of original paintings by Don Breeden and Tony Bennett.

7:30 pmWaiting for You at the End of the Trail Dining experience under the stars celebrating the Spanish cuisine by Chef Stan.

Accompanied by the music of Del Castillo...a rhythmic combination of Flamenco, Latin Rock, Blues & World Music.
“Brilliance on Nylon-string classical guitars...” Rolling Stone Magazine

Join us for this extraordinary evening to raise funds for an educational sculpture trail. Bilingual signage will accompany the sculptures and communicate the story of a “Land of Diversity in South Texas”. Please contact Quinta Mazatlan for more information on Sculpture Sponsorships and ticket sales ($100 per person) at 956- 681-3370.

....."TAOB"COMMENTS: "WOW"SOUNDS LIKE FUN!!!!, I am a fan of Del Castillo, they are from Brownsville then moved to Austin, Texas...


1st Annual McAllen Arts CouncilFine Art Exhibition

March 31 - April 3, 2009McAllen Chamber of Commerce1200 AshMcAllen, TX 78501
The McAllen Arts Council invites you to participate in the 1st Annual McAllen Arts Council Fine Art Exhibition to be held from March 31 through April 3, 2009. This exhibition will be juried by representatives of the McAllen Arts Council and the McAllen Chamber of Commerce and will be juried from the originals. This means that artists will deliver their original artwork to the site, after which it will be juried. Artists whose work has been selected will not be notified. After jury selection, artwork that has not been selected must be retrieved at the time specified.

ELIGIBILITY: Artists over the age of 18 may submit up to two (2) artworks. All artwork must be original and not executed under supervision. Artwork will be displayed on easels and there will be tables provided for three dimensional work.

APPLICATION (PROSPECTUS):More information is contained in the application form. You can view the application form and download it at Go to the March 31 announcement and click on the link "prospectus." Or, the direct link is:

The McAllen Arts Council is dedicated to supporting and encouraging the development of a city wide arts culture and infrastructure that includes all disciplines of the arts. This support and encouragement will improve the city's quality of life through promoting and enhancing creativity, education and the appreciation of the arts. Contact:

Recognizing Great Value in the Arts of the Rio Grande Valley

You are receiving this arts alert because you are on RGV_ARTS@LISTSERV.UTPA.EDU.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

TAOB Interview with Izel Vargas

visit Pocholandia:

TAOB: Where were you born and what do you remember most about your childhood ?
Vargas: First, thank you for having me. I was born in McAllen at the infamous haunted hospital that was torn down some time ago. When I was a kid my cousins and I had to find things to do in and around Alamo to keep ourselves out of trouble. So when I think of childhood, I think of baseball. That movie ‘The Sandlot,’ yeah, that was us.

TAOB:Describe your art and tell us your meaning of the word "POCHOLANDIA" ?
Vargas: The foundation for the work I do is based on border politics and the border region itself. As a fronterizo in exile, I often gravitate towards the things that remind me of home. My art allows me to pay homage to home as well as simultaneously address issues relevant to Latinidad in the South/Southeast. Sometimes its about me, sometimes its about random things, but it has always been rooted as being about ‘place’ – wherever that place may be at the time (this explanation, by the way, is just the short version).

Pocholandia was something I was playing with when I was working on my thesis. I thought I could come up with something other than ‘Rio Grande Valley’ that was all at once funny, proud, and self-deprecating. To me it’s the equivalent of saying Tex- Mex, Mexican- American, or Tejano (a liminal identity, is what I’m getting at). Some dig it, some don’t… you can’t please everyone.

TAOB: Other than the Valley where else would you live and why ?
Vargas: I’d like to hop around. To be honest, I don’t have a specific place I want to be…wherever I am at that moment will do.

TAOB: Why do you think art is important and how do you feel your art contributes to that purpose ?
Vargas: Art is important for so many reasons, none of which I will get into right now because Google-ing “Art is important because” instead would probably give you a much better response. Does my art contribute to that purpose? Maybe. I wouldn’t worry about it too much.

TAOB: As a visual artist do you think there is opportunity here in the valley of becoming successful, why or why not ?

Vargas: I’ll say this, art opportunities in the Valley are extremely limited. Thats changing, at a snail’s pace, but I remain optimistic. I can go off on a rant but I’d rather not. All I do know is change is happening- that is evident every time I come home. Success is subjective.

TAOB: Tell us about your education: what schools did you attend and were there any struggles, and perhaps what would you change or do different ?

Vargas: I attended STCC and studied with some great teachers, among them Ed Garcia Richard Smith, Monica (Bitchin’) Camero, and Becky Jones. Moved on to UT- Pan American and worked primarily with Lenard Brown. Brown definitely kicked my ass into shape and got me to take art more seriously. Anyone that worked with Lenard definitely knows what I’m talking about. Back then I was still unsure that it was what I wanted to do as a career, but ultimately I chose to do so. After graduating with my BFA, I worked on my portfolio alongside Chris ‘Leonardski’ Leonard in a studio/storage unit we shared outside of Pharr. In that time I met Paul Valadez and he recommended me to the University of North Carolina. I worked with many great artists and teachers there. With our visiting lecturers I met even more established artists. Soon after earning my Master’s I was selected to be part of an MFA exhibition in Washington D.C. at Irvine Contemporary. I later earned gallery representation with the space. Were there struggles? Oh yes indeed. Was there anything I’d do different? Nope. I’ve met so many great people, friends, artists, and collectors just because of the timing alone.

TAOB: What is one of the struggles you think a local artist of the valley faces on a daily basis ?
Vargas: Ahh, The Struggle. I think that Valley ‘artists’ struggle because they don’t make the effort to change things for themselves. If they did, even a little, it could potentially influence someone else to do something as well. There aren’t enough people who take art seriously in the Valley because these so- called artists don’t step up. No one’s going to give it to them, they themselves have to make it happen. Stop believing that someone is keeping you down, its all on you. If you’re serious about your art, you’ll make it happen for yourself and not just comfortably sit around hoping someone will show you the way.

TAOB: Some of your work resembles in style the spaintings of Rene Garza (ahora y Siempre-Now and Forever) and some of Cande's work (Forge 2006), tell us is there an influence of there works in your art ?

Vargas: Nope. I’m sure they have reasons for their decisions on how they go about making their works, as I have mine. I agree, stylistically there are some similarities, but then again we are from the same place, so I’m sure we have similar sensibilities in those regards. My decisions are informed by situations that have taken place in my immediate surroundings. You mention “ahora y siempre,” an ongoing project piece that addresses the lonchera (taco truck) wars of the (New) South. Upon arriving in North Carolina, as my culture shock set in, loncheras and taquerias became more than just eateries to me, but spaces of familiarity. Somewhere I could go and feel something similar to home (even if the prices were inflated and the tortillas sucked!). They became sites of the new borderland, where Latinidad met Americana, much like back home, just not as synthesized. And with difference came conflict; much of the work I do is based on that conflict.

TAOB: As an artist what can you say you are afraid of?
Vargas: I would say self doubt. The nightly battles with self doubt really can take their toll on someone. Its damn hard enough to do what you take seriously only to find that you’re the one stopping yourself from progressing. I’m also afraid of spiders.

TAOB:Tell us your view on any particular political issue local, state or federal, that is of importance to you?
Vargas: There are a million things that I could go off on, but mainly I’m glad Bush is out and Obama is in.

TAOB: In your opinion from the following list what would you say we need more and which one do we need less of and why: internet websites featuring artist, art critics, art collectors, better classes for high school art teachers, or more venues for artist ?

Vargas: I’ll respond in that order:
Websites- Sure. A weekly half hour TV show that focuses on all arts would be better. Not just Valley art, but art from everywhere. It could be shot on Tim’s Terrace for all I care, just do it already! A Festiva that covers a full week instead of the weekend is also long overdue. If its going to be a website, PLEASE pay someone to maintain it and update it weekly. I’m glad things like the Artwalk have grown, but its still very insulated. We tend to recycle local art and artists in these spaces every month. Sometimes, you can go see the same artist every month at the same place! ¡Que horor! There should be national and international calls for art to bring more flavor to the Valley. Gallerists have to drop their egos and allow guest curators a shot at the wheel.

After reading the “Knock- off City” article in the current issue of South Texas Nation, I was happy to see that McAllen was finally being called out, but sad to see that the situation had come to this. Hopefully more people read that article and start to do something about it.

Art critics – we need scholars, real critics, knowledgeable experts, historians, curators, REAL collectors (not nickel and dimers), SANE museum directors (background checks would be nice), gallerists, and galleries. Why do we need it? To create and foster a new dialogue with the artist and to finally put to rest the ‘señoritas and still lifes’ format we know all too well in the Valley. We need them to talk about and document the unique voice the Valley has. The phrase “Tex-Mex” originated here, that’s got to stand for something. If we can grow our own artists, then we can grow our own scholars/critics who will educate themselves and make the Valley their primary focus.

Unfortunately, we have more restaurants and bars opening than anything else at the moment. Don’t get me wrong, I know that there have been significant steps in the art scene. I’m glad to see one or two independent galleries pop up, but there needs to be more. Folks need to harness that momentum and keep moving forward.

Art Collectors- oh yea. Sometimes I think people go to exhibitions and think they’re at a pulga and will try and talk you into just giving the damn thing away. Carlos Gomez brought up the point in a past issue of the South Texas Nation (well said too), but I fear its something that’s just going to be for a long while. One has to take into consideration the economy of the Valley. The average income for a home there is still extremely low, still one of the lowest in the nation. It shouldn’t be surprising that art isn’t the first thing people are thinking about when they have any kind of money. And the situation with the economic crisis we’re all going through now, olvídate.

Better classes for high school teachers- my friend Jerry would say “Yes please.” Lots of kids grow up thinking art is for playtime. That’s part of the reason why so few take art seriously in the Valley. More attention should be given to up and coming high school art. There are lots of talented kids coming up. It doesn’t have to end there. Artists should go to their local Boys and Girls Clubs and teach a few classes as well. I’d like to see a mural program pop up sometime—that’s community, culture, and art all wrapped into one.

More venues for artists- hell yes. I’m proud to see that there have been more venues popping up and more people attending the artwalk, but the Valley needs more. McAllen can be the jump off…the other bigger Valley cities can also showcase their locals. Some downtown buildings should be renovated and made into affordable artist studios. A residency program could be a good thing too. I’m sure the City would/could foot the bill if it was spun the right way (this is from judging how they’re currently spending the so called ‘arts’ budget).

TAOB: Tell us about your family what do they say about your art?
Vargas: My family is pretty cool. They have been very supportive of me even though I sometimes think they thought I was crazy when I decided to make Art my career. Its had its ups and its downs, but they’ve always been there for me. I can safely say that it was my family that got me to where I’m at. If I’ve had any luck with my career, my abuelita can take the credit because of the endless number of veladoras she’s lit. It always a hard thing for me to visit the Valley because its always going to be difficult leaving again. I can’t say for sure what they say about my work, but they know me better than anyone so if I’m having a good time, they are too.
Thank you for your questions The Art of Brownsville.

"Izel Vargas, thank you for your time and support, your responses are truly appriciated." gt

Tuesday, March 03, 2009


Painting by Mauricio Saenz
oil on canvas
36 x 48 in
I like the idea of noteing important paintings executed by local painters, althought we can say "they all are" ,well I would say some stand out more than others, this in my opinion happens to be one of them , lets give or should I say call it the "TAOB Museum Worthy Award".
I think the question still stands "A QUIEN SHINGAOS LE IMPORTAN LAS MUERTES DE JUAREZ" ??, Saenz confronts the high controversy of the missing women of border city Juarez to this date still unresolved in this painting he executed 2005. This painting speaks out in so many levels, not only as dark humor or aesthetically for it is skillfull soft shading but as an example of regional painting having to do with social issues...
I think about the past locally speaking painting may have been seen as a pass time hobbie by probably winter texans or retires, those who can afford the mediums and time to paint without the worries about the bills. I think about how that may have change when several schools were built and a need for art teachers became a supply and demand thing..I think about the present and how we have a mix of painters with different backgrounds, those who teach and paint, those who are retired and paint, those who work day jobs "nothing to do with art" and paint, and the very one percent, few probably none existent who just paint for a living supported by only the art he or she creates. I think about if that really matters, what you do to eat and feed your kids, what you do to put a roof over your head, what you do to put clothe on your backs, how should that define what importance you give to your art, the difference of a true painter or a true hobbiest.. ask yourself "why is your art important ? "if you can't seem to come up with an answer then you now know what matters most......

"Portraits" by Joe Martinez

Joe Martinez

Brownsville, Texas


38th International Art ShowJuried Exhibition March 4 - March 28, 2009Opening reception: March 4, 2009

Art by Rosendo Sandoval - Title:"La que bailo con el diablo " contact:

Art by Rosendo Sandoval - Title:"La que bailo con el diablo " contact:

Historic Brownsville Museum