Tag Archive | art gallery

Chicanitas: Small Paintings from the Cheech Marin Collection

After work on Friday, January 11, I had the opportunity to attend an exhibition opening at the Whatcom Museum.  Cheech Marin, of Cheech and Chong fame, has amassed a collection of small paintings by Chicano and Chicana artists, and he has loaned the collection to museums around the United States.  The exhibit is here at our museum through March 24, 2013.

The event was a museum members’ and their guests only event, and Cheech Marin was there in person to introduce the exhibit and give a little context.  I went with a coworker, and there were a couple of other coworkers there, so at the beginning we did some chatting, had a glass of wine and enjoyed the Mexican appetizers that were provided.  The food was catered by Jalapenos restaurant in town, and they always do a great job.  Sadly though, when we went through the line, there was no more guacamole!  I had to settle for only sour cream – but that’s hardly worth mentioning.

After a little while, Cheech arrived and spent some time mingling with some of the evening’s guests.  It was kind of funny to watch him get pinned down by one person or another.  Eventually the staff had to extract him so he could go upstairs and introduce the exhibit – otherwise I think people would have talked his ear off all night!

The exhibit was upstairs in the Whatcom Museum’s smaller exhibit gallery, and Cheech spent a bit of time discussing the collection and how he came to own the various artworks.  He emphasized that the collection was created not by Mexican artists, rather Chicano and Chicana artists who are Americans.  While some of them were born in Mexico, they all now live in the United States.  And all the paintings are small – the dimensions for the collection did not exceed 16 x 16 inches.  I don’t remember everything he told us, but he is clearly proud of the art that is emerging from this group of artists.  He collects both established and emerging artists, and one of the things that was interesting for me was not knowing who was who.

The paintings generally explore the cultural lives of the artists; examples include four exquisitely done still lifes of common foods eaten in Mexico, such as stomach and tripe, and a series that show men wearing masks worn by the Lucha Libre professional wrestlers that are very much a part of the culture in Mexico.  I have to say, the subject matter of an animal’s stomach is a bit disconcerting, but the painting was excellent – very realistic!  Cheech told us that his hope is that the exhibit will help people embrace the cultural shifts that our country has experienced over time by introducing people to the Chicano art movement.

City at Night by Frank Romero

City at Night by Frank Romero

Payasa by Sandy Rodriguez

Payasa by Sandy Rodriguez

Jose Lozano - Wrestler's Centauro

Jose Lozano – Wrestler’s Centauro

Finding Jesus at the Taco Stand by Margaret Garcia

Finding Jesus at the Taco Stand by Margaret Garcia

Pollitos by Jari "WERC" Alvarez

Pollitos by Jari “WERC” Alvarez

My coworker and I enjoyed moving through the galleries and looking at each work.  Chicano art includes some bright vibrant colors and eye catching scenes.  I certainly liked some more than others, but they all were very interesting.  I really enjoyed myself, and got the chance to see some artwork that opened my eyes to some emerging styles.

And last but not least, my favorite painting of the collection was by Ana Teresa Fernandez.  Her paintings provide a social commentary in pictures, showing women dressed up to be very sexual and provocative, completing day to day domestic chores.  Her work exudes the sexuality that she intends the viewer to feel, and it makes you think about the roles women are expected to fill.  Her work is so real you have trouble believing it is a painting and not a photograph.  I would love to see more!

To Press by Ana Teresa Fernández - 2007

To Press by Ana Teresa Fernández – 2007

So, if you have a chance, check this exhibit out.  As an added bonus, the Whatcom Museum is also showing Impressionist Paintings by California artists.  That exhibit is certainly worth the time.

Hippie Art and Pie!

This week the weather was a bit schizophrenic. Monday morning it was raining. Pouring really. And actually, surprisingly, this was an improvement because Sunday night it was pouring with high winds. So, pouring with no high winds is quite preferable. Then Monday afternoon we got sunshine. And Monday night we got snow. And Tuesday morning, sunshine again. And it alternated between rain with wind and rain without and blue sky for the rest of the week.  And some full moon with Northern Lights action thrown in too!  I didn’t see the Northern Lights but the full moon was gorgeous.  And now rain.  But the problem is, it’s March. And I’m tired of the endless rain. I want spring and summer and hot weather and semi-drought conditions. I want to have to open the windows to sleep at night because otherwise it’s too hot in the house. I want to not be paying a heart-stopping, depression-inducing gas bill each month. I do know that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Spring is less than 2 weeks away, and each day we should be getting closer to the letup in the rain and cold. And in the meantime, I’ll just have to hold onto that.

Sunday was my mother in law’s birthday, so Jon and I went down to Whidbey Island to spend the day with her and his siblings. 3 of 4 of his sibs were able to make it (his other sister just moved to Florida). Jon’s mom wanted to go to Greenbank Farm, and I had never been, so I packed the camera for our trip. Greenbank Farm was a farm at the turn of the last century – the large main barn was built in 1904 (in case you forget it tells you in huge letters right here on the barn!). Now it houses a café, a few art galleries, a wine shop with tastings, and an eclectic cheese and specialty food shop where you can find something for everyone (it’s a little pricey though). The farm is now owned by the Port of Coupeville and runs through an agreement with a local non-profit.

Greenbank Farm

Greenbank Farm on Whidbey Island

My overall impression was that it was fine, but nothing amazing. The art at the galleries is a bit eclectic for me… just a little too out there in terms of hippie, new age, mixed media type stuff. I would compare it to the clothing designs you see at a fashion show. Just because it is interesting to see it walking down the runway, doesn’t mean it is something that I should wear. And just because an artist makes a piece, doesn’t mean that it is something that I should put on my wall.  There was one outdoor sculpture I really liked though, right here….

Outdoor Bronze Sculpture at Greenbank Farm

The shining light at Greenbank Farm is the café. We sat down for a snack, and were treated to an excellent seafood chowder with cod, crab and Penn Cove mussels, in a light broth. And the pie! We got a rhubarb pie to go (sadly they were out of marionberry pie), and it was amazing. The crust was light and flaky, and the rhubarb was tart and perfectly cooked. Let me just say that it might be a good thing that I don’t live closer, because I’d be getting plump on pie!

We also visited the wine shop and had a few tastes – the selection is all Washington wine, with a big focus on Whidbey Island and a few Yakima Valley wineries. I didn’t see any of the Woodinville or Walla Walla wineries represented, which would be nice if they wanted to round out their collection. I had tried a large majority of their tasting menu already on other wine-tasting trips, so I just wasn’t wowed by the experience. Jon did try and buy a Port style Whidbey Island wine (he’s been really into Port style and dessert wines lately). After Greenbank Farm, we headed to downtown Coupeville to do a little shopping. We poked around the shops and galleries, and I even got a present for Jon for some upcoming birthday or Christmas (no Jon, I’m still not telling you what it is).

So my final verdict is that Greenbank Farm is good for a visit on occasion, especially if you want some pie, but there isn’t enough to do there to make it a regular trip. If you do go, be sure to try the pie, and let me know what you think of the art!