Congratulations to Michelle Belto and her seven fellow artists for a visually diverse, culturally rich exhibit called Exchange Project now showing at the Carver Community Cultural Center until September 14th. I strongly urge you to make time to see it.
The premise is fun – what was your childhood San Antonio telephone exchange name? Taylor? Pershing? You could tell where your friends lived by their phone number prefix. Exchanges defined both the geographic and demographic qualities of those San Antonio neighborhood.
Each artist in the exhibit expresses an authentic sense of childhood and local neighborhood, and each one is different in both media and metaphor.
Some of my favorites:
Bernice Appelin-Williams addresses directly the advertising of the 50’s which often used African-American stereotypes in soap ads, wanting to “wash themselves white.” One of her most compelling pieces is titled “Seeds.” In her statement, she says, “Seeds are a sacred metaphor for life and renewal, it is the gift of life for those seeking/wanting; plant the seed of distrust, of sub-human, and one is denied the kind of life that is full of energy, full of hope.”
Laura Mijangos provides a visual contrast with her paintings, which are mysterious and misty, much like childhood memories. Again, the metaphor – an infinity sign floating like a jump-rope above the paint-veiled child.
Viewers could spend forever exploring Diane Mazur’s large mixed-media collage which is filled with symbols and memories of her childhood house at 400 Mandalay Drive. I loved its complexity and composition, its constructed levels.
And it’s no secret how much I love Michelle Belto’s work. She chose to construct a “neighborhood” of three-dimensional houses with wax and mixed media, each with its own clues about the inhabitants. Michelle is a marvelous artist and creative craftsman.
Other artists have equally compelling work in The Exchange Project – RitaMarie Contreras, Thelma Muraida, Patricia Ortiz, Sandy Whitby. This exhibition is delightful, thoughtful, and diverse.
Please go see it, especially if you grew up in a San Antonio in the 50’s and 60’s – but the work truly speaks to everyone on every level. There’s plenty of parking around the Carver, and it’s easy to get to.
Now through Sept 14th
Carver Community Cultural Center
226 N Hackberry
San Antonio, TX 78202. San Antonio