Sounds of Cultura (SOC): Hecho a Mano

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Hecho a Mano, presents works of Mexican traditional artists, as well as contemporary local artists. CALACA Director Marco Albarran and artist Gennaro Garcia discuss the exhibition.

Jose Cardenas: In sounds of cultura SOC, the "Hecho a Mano" exhibition is a collaboration between Calaca cultural center and the Willo north gallery showcasing works of traditional and contemporary art. Here to talk about it is Marco Albarran, director of the Calaca cultural center. And Gennaro Garcia, one of the artists whose work is featured in the exhibition. Gentlemen, thank you for joining us on "Horizonte." Made by hand, a reference to Mexican folk art and what the exhibition does, as I understand it, a combination of traditional Mexican folk art, contemporary and the new generation, and the artists who span that gap between Mexico and Arizona. Give us a few more details.

Marco Albarran: Yeah, the idea of the exhibition was primarily that. It was to connect what -- how the roots in Mexico and into the United States and what the artists are creating, more of the contemporary version of what has been created in Mexico.

Jose Cardenas: And the featured artist is a Mexican artist?

Marco Albarran: The featured artist is a Mexican artist. He's from East Pablo, and I mean, he is already up there in terms of his stature as an artist.

Jose Cardenas: We're going to show pictures as we're talking. He comes from a tradition of wood carvers, the references -- in Mexico, and this is somewhat typical piece, I would say, of that style of handiwork.

Marco Albarran: Right, it's very typical. Many artists have creating animals, they are not really realistic, almost like a dream --

Jose Cardenas: Somewhat fantastical --

Marco Albarran: Right, fantastical animals and it is similar to what other artists are creating.

Jose Cardenas: A Jaguar, which is a popular image --

Marco Albarran: Right.

Jose Cardenas: In these types of works.

Marco Albarran: One of the things he created, basically focusing on what south Mexico is, and -- where many of these jungles are -- again, in a way, is creating a fantastical animal in terms of the colors and how it is, that is not in existence.

Jose Cardenas: Both of these pieces are in the exhibition.

Marco Albarran: The Jaguar is in the exhibition. The other one is one of his pieces that he created. I have a few of his pieces, they're not in the sample that I brought over here.

Jose Cardenas: And I think we have one other picture that we want to show. This is what would be an eagle or -- no, actually --

Marco Albarran: Condor. Again, one of those pieces that I think he probably got from South America.

Jose Cardenas: And he is an artist of world renown at this point in time.

Marco Albarran: Right. He -- recently he was invited to Sweden. He has been to Europe, South America. United States, he travels nationally. He is one of those artists from Mexico that has got the support basically from the world community in what he is creating.

Jose Cardenas: Featuring the work of an artist who is from Mexico, Gennaro, who kind of crosses the two cultures, because you were born in Mexico, you -- you live here now. You exhibit a lot here. At the same time you have been going back to your roots literally, studying there and doing things and we have one of your pieces that is in the exhibition that we want to show on camera right now. Describe this piece to us, Gennaro.

Gennaro Garcia: Typical tree of life -- totally from Latin America, more Mexican than anything else. I started doing the tree of life when my daughter was born. First piece that I did was hand painted, oil over -- I keep doing the tree of life, doing the tree of live in wood carving with the idea of the typical tree of life in Mexico, made of clay, and the amazing work that people from Mexico does with the clay, but because my dad and I, we work with wood, we wanted to do our own interpretation of the tree of life and that is how we came up with the idea of doing it on wood.

Jose Cardenas: We have a picture of you with your dad on one of your bigger pieces, actually about the same height that the two of you are.

Gennaro Garcia: That piece, if you see -- that piece is at the airport in Phoenix, at a restaurant, it was commissioned from the chef to have it -- inside of the bar, one side each of the tree of life.

Jose Cardenas: And what -- you know, we talked to Marco about the connections to Mexico, and you mentioned one of them is the tree of life. Mexico would be in clay, here you're doing it in wood, but it is still kind of the traditional image. What are the influences -- we have other artists in the exhibition here -- what are their works and this is a question really for you, Marco, represent that transition between Mexico and the United States?

Marco Albarran: We have one artist, actually, that right now that -- he is creating this wonderful pieces of rock -- we also have Martin -- from Chihuahua -- I mean, from Michigan, and at the same time you can see the transition from what has been created in Mexico, what -- one of his pieces that he has there is actually made with rock basically, and you can see the difference between one and the other. We have videos from some of the artists that are from Mexico that are created, creating their pieces for the ceremonies going on in Mexico. The direct connection that we have from the culture in Mexico to how the influence has gone all of the way to Chicano culture.

Jose Cardenas: Gennaro, We have a couple of more of your pieces that we want to put up on the screen that represent some of the issues and transitions that we're talking about. And this one, literally, captures the migrant experience. Talk about what you are trying to do with this piece here.

Gennaro Garcia: Well, that was the first thing that I saw when I came to U.S. 15 years ago. The first time that I went to California, I saw that sign on --

Jose Cardenas: And these are signs along the road.

Gennaro Garcia: Exactly.

Jose Cardenas: People crossing.

Gennaro Garcia: Be careful, there is people crossing. It's a family, an immigrant family running, and that familiar -- that sign is for you to be careful when you are driving. The family can be crossing the road in front of you. That's my interpretation of that sign, of what is our life coming to the U.S., for me to piece represents a family that wants to offer something better in life for themselves.

Jose Cardenas: And what about the issue of immigration legal versus illegal? What are you tying to say about that?

Gennaro Garcia: Hmmm, for me, there is no immigration that's illegal-- when I came to the U.S. 15 years ago, I was homeless sleeping on the street, but I came to do something better for my life and to offer something good to this country. And every day we fight for that in -- here in the U.S. We are trying to give something to this country. We do it with art, we do it being a good father in my case, a good husband, and that's what I give back for being here. So, for me, the word illegal, it doesn't exist.

Jose Cardenas: I want to come back to that image in a moment, but Marco you also have U.S. born artists -- tell us about the importance of including their work in this exhibition?

Marco Albarran: I think it is very important. I mean, that's one way of actually linking one from the other one, and there is -- the art you can see, there is no actually much difference. The style that -- the experiences that we have through living here or going through the border or still living in Mexico. It's just that, the experience. But the art itself that basically embodies the connection that we have with one or the other one.

Jose Cardenas: Exhibition actually opened last week. How long is it going to be on display?

Marco Albarran: Until the 23rd of this month, and our second grand opening is on the 19th, which is the third Friday of this month. I invite all of the community to go there.

Jose Cardenas: And physically what is the location?

Marco Albarran: Actually Thomas and 7th avenue -- and I think the address will be prompted -- with the information.

Jose Cardenas: We will show it on the screen.

Marco Albarran: Right.

Jose Cardenas: We have about 40 seconds left, maybe even less than that. One last image we want to put up on the screen illustrating your work. This looks like an Adam and Eve figure as well. And we talked about it, kind of in white. Tell us about that.

Gennaro Garcia: It is a -- also a tree of life, and in this case, the beginning -- a lot of people question -- ask me about why it's all white instead of the typical tree of life that we have they're full of colors and bright is because with the idea with Adam and Eve in the beginning, everything was pure, everything was pure. That is why the color white, and at the same time for me white represents a little bit of -- it is an elegant color.

Jose Cardenas: And they will be able to see elegant stuff as well in the exhibition. I'm sorry, we're out of time. Thank you for joining us. And that's our show for tonight. From all of us here at Horizonte, thank you for joining us.

Marco Albarran:Director, CALACA; Gennaro Garcia:Artist;

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