As a woman it’s only right for me to honor Women’s History Month, and, luckily, I don’t have to burn a bra to do it. (It’s not like my job provides an unlimited new-bra budget.) Over at the San Antonio Central Library a unique group exhibition showcases the works of nine female artists ranging in style from photography to mixed media.
This show is one not to be missed because it doesn’t feature the stereotypical images you may find in other women-themed shows such as nude figures clenching withered flowers or bruised, battered, and beaten female bodies. In Art & Persuasion: Feminine in Flux the nine artists each tackle their own variation on the flux of femininity — although some visions may be a little more difficult to pinpoint than others.
Once you enter the library’s gallery, Adriana M. Garcia’s piece “Maria II” draws you in — her deep, demanding eyes take control and you find yourself in a trance. With arms crossed, and a radiance exuding from every curve of her frame, she’s confident, and this sets the tone for the rest of the show.
Anna-Marie Lopez de León has two contrasting pieces in the show, but they feature her at times whimsical style. “Paradise (2 of the 3 dream sequences),” an acrylic on canvas piece, is almost childlike in nature if you simply glance over the work. But upon further inspection, you’ll realize it alludes to Adam and Eve sans the apple. A tree with the text “my golden tree” outlines the shape of the tree’s foliage. Both figures appear androgynous but, of course, the body parts give it away. The male figure is strangled by the serpent, with text underneath the snake reading: “red and yellow kill a fellow.” There’s so much going on in “Paradise” it makes it impossible to identity what exactly Lopez is hinting at.
“Unwilling” is more literal. A woman is about to be taken advantage of while another figure is in the background, possibly watching. The woman frowns as she protects her privates; the attacker remains expressionless. The use of color is what makes this piece incredible. Lopez uses muted tones and paints muddy faces in an effort to create a scene that will quickly fade, but it’s clear enough to make out the faces — as if she’s saying that a horrible experience remains with a person for life.
Vicky Jones mixes it up with her charcoal and conte on paper set. Her two featured works are done in an unconventional way. “Coming Soon” is a mock movie poster with a woman wearing a black leather tube dress, seen only from the neck down against a backdrop of a McDonald’s and a gas station. It reminds me of something Robert Rodriguez would make if he decided to feature the West Side of San Antonio as the setting of Sin City 2.
I was a bit confused by “Bratz,” an ode of sorts to the Bratz dolls. I’m not sure what exactly is meant by the Olay model or the Jack in the Box storefront. I gathered that she may be calling out the commercialization of fake beauty (a faint PhotoShop toolbar can be found on the left side of the drawing).
Katherine Brown’s mixed-media panel “Lessons of the Corazon” is a refreshing work that pieces together old songbooks, milagros, a broken ruler, and a rear-view mirror all in an effort to mend her corazon. The viewer quickly finds him- or herself part of her work when they see themselves in the mirror. Brown is also showing two mixed-media pieces that feature found objects and a cherub for that hint of feminity that people may find lacking in her industrial found-art collection.
As a sucker for black-and-white photography, I fell in love with Gisela Girard’s “Love, Silhouette,” which is a print of a couple as they stare at an ancient building. They are merely silhouettes, holding hands, off-center in the image, which makes for a nice vantage point. It’s as if they’re the only two people in the world (well, if you ignore the woman to the right of the couple in the striped shirt).
This exceptional show is not to be missed — the artists display a range of feelings and emotions without being overtly feminine ... in short, it won’t be intimidating for your man to check out this show, too. •
Art & Persuasion:
Feminine in Flux
San Antonio Central Library