TAOB: Its been a while since you have said goodbye to TAOB, first of all Mayra how have you been and what have you been up to, I know you are a person that likes to take on special side projects and working with your Church , and last I talked to you, you were taking up a dance class ?
Mayra: Hi Gabriel, thank you for inviting me to this interview. I was very much surprised and honored by the request. Yes, I do like to take on side projects, which is both good and bad for me. I like planning and setting goals, I guess it's the designer in me, pero como dice el dicho "Quien mucho abarca, poco aprieta"...I am trying to work on that and hopefully this summer will offer some relief. This summer, my main project is to direct the Vacation Bible School at my church La Primera Iglesia Bautista Mexicana from June 15-19. If any parents would like to take their kids, send an email to http://email@example.com. As far as dance, I sponsor a ballroom dance club and it has turned out to be quite fun. I have managed to learn (not yet master) steps in 6 types of dance, my favorites being Tango, Merengue and Cha Cha. It's a fun and good workout as well. If anyone were to start a Brownsville Ballroom Club, I would so be in!
TAOB: Have you done any recent paintings, drawings or sculptures, or perhaps any "shoe" designs you can tell us about ?
Mayra: I have worked on some shoe designs actually, nothing major or finalized for sure. I have gotten ideas for some installations and paintings but I will not be revealing anything just yet as I am hoping I can make them a part of a show in the near future. God willing, my current long-term plan is to go a get a Masters in Shoe Design in Italy come January 2010. So I would love to have a show to jump start that ambition. I have provided two images of a finalized drawing and a sketch. I do more sketches than anything, the ideas I get for shoes just come very spontaneously so I have to draw them on what's handy, be it a sketchbook or napkin. I hope that once I have the means and knowledge, that I can translate my 2-D designs into actual 3-D creations, be it functional or purely for arts sake. I design shoes both for function and style and I also design what I would say are very surreal shoes that are for personal expression, which I call shoe art. Many times the designs also have a quirky phrase that give some literal reinforcement to a very figurative, visual expression. I like how the shoe art blurs the line between the function of design and the expression of art.
TAOB: Have you visited any art exhibits and or seen any art that you would like to talk about, that my have caught your eye ?
Mayra: Unfortunately, I have not been to many shows this year, mainly because of schedule conflicts. I have seen plenty of student art and I really enjoy to see the creativity of the children in our community, especially at the secondary level because when you come across some really great pieces, especially by such young talent, it's like finding a diamond in the rough. As a teacher, one could only hope to polish a little corner of the stone. As far as catching my eye, only one piece has completely floored me by its power of expression and it was a painting by a former student. It is a beautiful and yet simple self-portrait of the artist as a child. She never picked it up after the art show, so Carmen Arias who graduated from San Benito HS, I still have your piece so if you would like it back, please contact me. Two local artists whose work I like are Cande Aguilar and Noel Palmenez. To me they are extremes in style (abstact vs. realism), but what gets my attention is the mastery of their technique and strength in expression. I guess as a designer, I am really attracted to the craftsmanship and how they have created a personal style/brand...you can recognize their work just by looking at it. Of course, I enjoy the art of various local artists! To name a few, I love the abstracts by Carlos G. Gomez, "Migas" and "Huevos con Chorizo", recently posted on TAOB. I got a real kick out of those, I even showed it to one of my students. I like art that makes me laugh, and I mean that in every good way! The artworks of Celina Hinojosa and Jennifer Rodriguez also touch a vein in my heart. In general, I love Renaissance art, especially Venetian. They were masters of color and light, even before Thomas Kinkaid got the title. The artist Titian is my favorite, I get chills just looking at how he captured the textures and color transparencies of skin. I also admire artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude, just for being such bad-asses. lol! If I could make my public plea here on TAOB, it would be for Christo and Jeanne-Claude to choose Brownsville, Texas as the site for their next project!
TAOB: I liked this question I have asked several painters,I think I'll ask you too, tell us what do you most remember about your childhood and how or what first interested you into art ?
Mayra: I would have to go back to Kindergarten for this one. I can actually remember the first critical thought I had about art. I guess you could say at the time, I was drawing like most kindergarten students- stickmen, corner suns and m-birds...but then one day I realized that the drawings could look better, that they could be improved on. I thought, hey this stickman needs some meat! lol! And since then, I've never looked back...just to keep improving, especially in drawing. Drawing to me is the most fundamental and basic medium because it can translate into any 2-D or 3-D medium and is almost always needed for preparations to make art. I also remember asking my 1st grade teacher what the job was of the person who drew the pictures in the books. So for the earlier part of my education, I would tell most people I wanted to be an illustrator....then comic artist, then architect, then fashion designer, then humanities college professor, then art museum coordinator, then art teacher, and now shoe designer / entreprenuer....yup, I always knew I would be working in the arts sector. I have been making my shoe art and designs for over six years now so I am glad that I am finally going to try to translate that into a career.
TAOB: In order for the city of Brownsville to continue enhancing interest in the Arts what do you think is the next step from where we are at the moment as a whole ?
Mayra: I think all the cards are on the table. I have no doubt that Brownsville has the talent and resources needed to keep the momentum going for further development. I think it's all a matter of how the cards are being played. I think we are in a current transition that will lead to the creative aspirations we have for our city, but we must be willing to grow and work hard for the changes we want. Overall, accountable leadership with vision supported by good short-term and long-term strategic planning, continued professional development and advocacy supported by research and the community will make the difference we are looking for. Phew! Is that all??? lol! And that's not it, OVERALL, we must keep making art and being passionate about it, to keep doing what makes Brownsville unique and one of a kind, because we need a reason why all the hard work is worth it.
TAOB: Mayra I have to ask, are you happy, I mean with TAOB, when you left it, did you in some ways wanted it to end with your departure? or are you glad it continues?
Mayra: I am definitely VERY happy that The Art of Brownsville continues. I probably kept with it a year more than I wanted to because I hated the idea of its existence coming to an end. So I was so absolutely relieved when you decided to continue with it. I don't know if other artists could relate, but sometimes your own creations become autonomous and carry on their own life, their own story. The Art of Brownsville was very much like that for me, but after a while I knew it was time, for me at least, to part ways. I hope that TAOB continues to grow and God willing, have a deeper impact that we could ever imagine.
TAOB: Mayra, again many thanks for your support and response to this interview.. I hope you are doing well and I know your response is appreciated by all TAOB readers and those who truly support local art.