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July 16 - October 15, 2012


The Seattle Municipal Tower's Ethnic Heritage Art Gallery is proud to present "Portraits". The show features Latino artists from the Northwest and the curator is Seattle based Peruvian artist Blanca Santander. The exhibit runs from July 16 through October 15, 2012. There are two opening receptions August 2 from 11:30am to 1:00pm and again from  4:30pm to 7:00pm. There will be a special presentation from well known Cuban author Jorge Enrique Gonzalez-Pacheco. Musical duo Enrique Wetzel and Laura Oviedo will perform at both receptions.

Blanca Santander, artist and exhibit curator, gives her perspective on the Portraits exhibit at the Seattle Municipal Tower's Ethnic Heritage Gallery: "As artists in our daily observations we internalize feelings, expressions, intellectual messages, color, beauty, and emotions. A portrait can communicate these thoughts and many others, For this exhibition we selected portraits for the theme to show our heritage and identity as Latinos living in the Northwest. Each artist in this group has been long established in the community developing their unique ways of expression. In this group each artist has their own way of construction a portrait based on their  individual experiences, observations, and heritage. Portraits not only capture the likeness of the subject, but also aspects of the artist's culture, personal history, and notions of identity."

Featured are eight artists from the Seattle metropolitan area. Their work has seen by many in the Northwest and most of the artists are recognized internationally. The show features Mexican master Alfredo Arreguin."My blazing, vibrating paintings are riotous with life and crowded with ghosts, as though every plant and animal that ever existed is still here, performing its steps in the dance of the earth. The paintings' images merge, evanesce,slip one behind another. Multiple presences coexist among the interdependent fragments that make up the composition. Are we looking at Aztec Art? Tibetan devotional imagery? North Coast Indian totomry? I leave it to the viewer to decide."

Peruvian painter, Blanca Santander, reflects on the message in her paintings. "I enhance my work with symbolism. I believe we share a collective conscience and most people agree that Mother Nature is a powerful force. I try to express how these forces are part of each of us. Positive energy is our essence. My paintings are in full color with beautiful women who beckon the observer to look for a deeper understanding. My work connects on the surface with grace and beauty and guides observers further with a spiritual message." Blanca describes,"The symbolism inherent in my work speaks volume to a woman's intuition. The use of full color accelerates the energy I capture on the canvas. The softness of the female images are warmed by red hues or wrapped in tangles of color."

From an interview by KING 5 News' Tonya Mosely in New Naturalista magazine, Blanca was asked about things that inspire her."I'm inspired by the balance of things, the relationship between beauty and sensuality. I'm also inspired to be part of the collective conscience that we as a world be better served by focusing on peace as opposed to war, love as opposed to hate, and acceptance as opposed to fear, My art is influenced by great painters like Mark Chagall and his celebration of life and Amedeo Modigliani for his sensuality."

A self described child of revolution and political asylum, Cuban artist Tatiana Garmendia speaks of her message, "My work is driven by existential questions that probe ideas and values, history and culture. These questions are expressed by the human figure as it twists and turns into suffering and into sublimation, I think of the body as the agent, the measure and the sum of physical and cultural substance. I think this is because my own body acts and is acted upon. It senses remembers, and recounts, fashioning a report on lived experiences, committing memory to art."

Tatiana describes"The Exodus," her series of narrative paintings."Narrative art, with its capacity to communicate aspects of the human condition, is of interest to me. These pieces can be seen as a meditation on national and private histories, on normative and recluse mythologies, on the stories we tell others and whisper to ourselves. Taking the Cuban Millile crisis as the point of departure, the portraits in"The Exodus"explore notions of patriotism, of loss. And, of nostalgia for a past that disappeared and a future that never materialized."

The Ethnic Heritage Gallery is also proud include traditional work from Mexican artists Rene Julio and Fulgencio Lazo. Mr Lazo has an interesting observation on the role of the artist in their community. "I have worked full time in my studio for over twenty years. I don't let my professional commitments; however, get in the way of my responsibilities to the Seattle and Oaxacan communities. I take my responsibility to others seriously. My mentor and inspiration, Master painter and printmaker, Shinzaburo Takeda, taught me that to be an achieved painter is of no value if you are not first and foremost a caring, active member of your community. I often abandon my work in my studio to give workshops for teachers and students in the greater Seattle area, as I am committed to arts education. I have worked as an artist-in-residence at many Seattle area schools, helping students become engaged in art while teaching about my culture.

Rene Julio embraces contemporary immigrant themes. Rene says about his work,"I was 19 years old when I discovered Arts, painting to be exact was what really captivated me. I realize that there are no boundaries when painting and that was the main reason for me not to focus in one topic or one style and started painting from portraits to landscapes, from realism to abstract, murals, etc. I have always tried to bring several techniques to my work, from egg tempera to acrylics, tar, water colors, silver on chalk, etc. Figure and drawing has always been a very important part of my work, is the pillar of every piece I have ever created.

Guatemalan painter Jose Orantes features portraits of his friends Alfredo Arreguin and Tomas Oliva. Full of color, vibrant and lively, amidst curves and lines, his work surprises by presenting to us a double perspective. It describes cities, women, objects and even details that to the common eye that may have gone unnoticed.

Tomas Oliva lends to the exhibit a drawing in ink and red chalk interestingly entitled "David Hockney Playing Marbles Again".Mr Oliva's skill in the arts supports the idea of how vital a traditional fine art education can be to advance the artist's career. Having been educated in the former USSR and in Cuba. He bring the Latino art community a unique experience.

Colombian abstract artist, Gloria Ruiz, paints a vibrant inner portrait called "The Phoenix" In Gloria's words,"Seeking to represent my spiritual experience, I'm portraying my emotions and feelings using color, symbols, strokes and shapes to express how I perceive my Inner Self in relation to the exterior world. I'm grasping the meanings of my own self, thoughts, and concepts as if I was witnessing them through a window, to translate them into paint."

The"Portraits"exhibit also runs during this year's National Hispanic Heritage Month. It is striking how in celebrating diversity to include the Latino community one finds out just how rich and diverse is the Hispanic experience.

The Seattle Municipal Tower is on 700 Fifth Avenue, Seattle, WA. Visitors will find the Ethnic Heritage Gallery on the third floor. Exhibits are organized by the Seattle City Employees.


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