‘Avenidas y Generaciones’ contrasts Latino American experiences through art

Seattle artist Gabriel Marquez with two of his works. Marquez is featured in “Avenidas y Generaciones.” (Photo by James Cantu.)

Highlighting artists with roots from Mexico to Cuba to Peru, “Avenidas y Generaciones” Latino Art Exhibition at the Washington State Convention Center is an essential opportunity to view the contrasting talents of artists from the rapidly growing Mexican and Latino communities of the Pacific Northwest.

The extensive exhibition features as many as 10 artworks each from eight artists from a variety of different backgrounds and histories, wrote exhibition curator Blanca Santander, an artist who fled Peru 20 years ago after being targeted for her human rights work. Santander, whose work is also included in the show, has been active in Seattle’s art scene, having served as artist-in-residence at local schools and as an organizer for art shows.

“Each artist lives a uniquely different experience and yet you find them all here together,” Santander wrote in the program. “They are connected as Latinos, artists, younger and older generations, and of course as Washingtonians.”

While the artists’ roots are from different countries, the Consulate of Mexico in Seattle funded the show.

Many of the artists’ works present figurative or narrative art based on portraits, some with political or dreamlike themes. Painter Alfredo Arreguín’s style reflects our Pacific Northwest landscape overlaid with layers of color and pattern. However, other painters, including  Juan Alonso-Rodriguez and Fulgencio Lazo, present geometric or abstracted treatments of natural subjects. Alonso also offers photographs documenting his visions of weathered walls and bricks.

Artist Gabriel Marquez, a 34-year old artist and designer from El Paso, Texas, represents the younger generation. He has lived in Seattle for three-and-a-half years with his longtime girlfriend, who is a sign language interpreter, and a daughter.

Marquez’s work takes an imaginative surreal turn, and is quickly gaining attention locally. The black and white line drawings are drawn with meditative repetitive patterns, and take on a three-dimensional aspect when the parts are cut out and rearranged as collages in unlikely figures, with suspiciously scary faces and hollowed out bodies. Some are beasts, some are strangely costumed princesses. The pieces range from letter paper size to a large 3-feet x 4-feet.

“It’s intuitive, I am not copying anything I see,” the artist said. “Sometimes it’s like a droplet of water falling into a puddle, and vibration of the fluid causes it to expand continuously.”

Marquez’ grandparents and parents were born in Mexico. His mother is from Jalisco, on the central Mexican west coast, and his father is from Juarez, across the border from El Paso. The multi-generational family business was in woodworking, providing a kind of basis for Marquez’ dedication to the design field.

Growing up as the third of four kids, Marquez claims he was an introvert, “always drawing cartoons and dinosaurs on my own.” His older sister excelled in design and managed and designed for the flagship Burberry fashion store in San Francisco.

Marquez easily did well in design courses at El Paso Community College and entered University of Texas at El Paso, where he earned his BFA in studio art with a double major in both painting and graphic design. During this time, he worked in a local business, designing and manufacturing cardboard products.

“I want to continue to push my aesthetic,” he said. “I’m earning my MFA by my own study and learning.”

He searched Seattle for work in the art field and found jobs in screen printing, and then hand painting glass vases in a glass studio.

“You really have to start at the bottom when you’re new in town,” he said.

Along with his artwork, Marquez has a busy life supporting his 11-year old daughter who is just beginning to enter the world of acting and modeling. With skills in CAD, Marquez works with a company that designs and produces interior textile panels in Boeing’s plants in Everett and Renton.

Marquez has also participated in the Center on Contemporary Art’s 24-hour painting marathon with 25 other artists, which produced pieces that were auctioned. He aims to find a gallery and to create murals.

“I haven’t found a gallery that would show my work. The newer artists here are all trying to fit in,” Marquez said. “You have to learn to advocate for yourself. You have to start from the bottom in the arts business.”

If you go

“Avenidas y Generaciones” Latino/a Art Exhibition

Level 2 Galleria

Washington State Convention Center, 705 Pike St., Seattle

Jan. 14 – March 30, 2017

Free and open 7 a.m. – 10 p.m. daily

Supported by the Consulate of Mexico in Seattle.

Featuring a diverse group of artists from the contemporary Pacific Northwest Latino/a art scene:  Juan Alonso-Rodriguez, Cecilia Conception Alvarez, Alfredo Arreguín, Tatiana Garmendía, Rene Julio, Fulgencio Lazo, Gabriel Marquez and Blanca Santander.

This show is part of the Rotating Art Program. Quarterly rotating exhibitions are booked approximately two years in advance, following a screening process involving the Convention Center’s Art Advisors. Over 165 of these exhibitions have been featured in the Rotating Art Gallery, since 1991.

Correction: This story originally stated that the works are for sale.

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1 Comment

  1. Thank you for this wonderful review, Mayumi. Blanca Santander is an incredible talent and indefatigable promoter of Latinex cultural contributions. I’m always so honored to show with her. And don’t get me started on Alfredo Arreguin! I just showed my painting students at Seattle Central College his artwork, and believe me, their jaws dropped to the floor! I really loved your celebration of Gabriel Marquez’s work. I recently met Marquez at a different art event and was struck by both his talent and humility. I love seeing our young talents celebrated and supported by our local media. It really means a lot to get some encouragement, especially when starting out in a new town.

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