Arizona ArtBeat: Little Miss Tex Mex Exhibit

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When you hear about an art exhibit, you might think watercolors, drawings or oil paintings, perhaps even sculptures. You may not think of prints made from wood or linoleum carvings, but a new exhibit at the Phoenix Central Library features these kinds of works. We’ll get an up close look at the work of local artist Donna Atwood and her exhibit, “Little Miss Tex Mex Rides Again.”

Ted Simons: Tonight's edition of "Arizona Artbeat" features an artist who starts with a carving and end was a print. Local artist Donna Atwood creates prints made from wood or linoleum. Reporter Lorri Allen, photographer Scot Olson and Steve Snow take a look at the printmaker and her exhibit which is called "Little Miss Tex-Mex Rides Again."

Donna Atwood: You can't use a bow and arrow to get somebody to love you. You have to use good cooking!

Donna Atwood is talking about the title piece in her exhibit, "Little Miss Tex-Mex Rides Again."

Donna Atwood: I thought, well I want to ride a bird.

Lorri Allen: She says her art is influence bide her environment.

Donna Atwood: Whatever I see around me becomes part of my visual language. And we have -- Of course we have the Flora and fauna of the region, and we also have strong Mexican influence, which I love dearly. I think we get a lot of bad press in Arizona for our relationships with Mexico. I think the underlying part of that relationship is a very good one. Culturally and artistically, and cuisinewise.

Lorri Allen: Here at SANTO press, she collaborates with her former professor Brent Bond.

Brent Bond: My job is easy. All the work was done when you handed it to me.

Lorri Allen: Now in the jargon of printmaking, he is her publisher.

Brent Bond: She has a very good sense of black and white. Negative and positive. And while the medium can easily be used in multiple runs, multiple colors, sometimes I find the most challenging is to work in that one color and try to convey all those values all those different materials and all those different lights, and light quality and characteristics of an external or internal space, whether it's a physical space, landscape, or surreal space. There's still spacial elements in her work that are very successful.

Lorri Allen: Atwood's work can be humorous.

Donna Atwood: I miss being young and thin, but I'll still take the attention. [laughter]

Lorri Allen: It's definitely whimsical. Her love birds print is inspired by this video she took on a walk. And some pieces are commentary on social trends such as EL GUYO.

Donna Atwood: A girlfriend of mine had decided a couple years ago it was that she was going to start dating again. And I thought, oh, my lord. Heaven help us all. She would find these guys and it would seem like it was going well, and she'd go through that process that I have like oh, he brought me flowers, oh, chocolate, oh, we're going out for drinks or a concert, or she even went to Italy with one fellow. And then sometimes she really thinks she's in love and it's going to- This is going to be the one! And you just think UGH.

Lorri Allen: At the library exhibit, people are surprised and delighted to meet the artist.

Bystander: I really love black and white.

Lorri Allen: The coordinator of the gallery's exhibit says Atwood's collection was chosen for its visual appeal and artistic merit.

Iris Huey: We don't particularly look for any sort of theme, but to be honest I think her southwestern theme fits nice in this Arizona library. And I also think that's one of the reasons why it's being so well received here.

Lorri Allen: Atwood says she's grateful to be showcased at the library, but a solo show can be daunting.

Donna Atwood: Not only do you have to work the whole time with no income, you also have to bear the brunt of all of the expenses. And all the while you must believe enough in yourself that you think this is going to be OK this, is going to work out, you're going to sell work, people will like it. You won't publicly humiliate yourself. And I think the only way to do that is to have people around you that go, yeah, this is good! Go with this, do this!

Ted Simons: An artist reception at "Little Miss Tex-Mex Rides Again" exhibit will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, September 6th at the Burton Barr central library in Phoenix. The exhibit runs through October 16th.

Ted Simons: That is it for now. I'm Ted Simons. Thank you so much for joining us. You have a great evening.

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