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Latinx art flavors Schneider this fall

Contemporary, culturally complicated and sizzling works of Latinx artists make up the fall exhibitions show at the Schneider Museum of Art at Southern Oregon University.

The work of Justin Favela, Victor Maldonado and the artists of Self Help Graphics & Art are in brilliant color, with comic lines and bold abstractions. Fall Exhibitions opened last week and will continue through Dec. 14.

Favela is this semester’s Visiting Artist and Scholar in Teaching at Southern Oregon University and will host a variety of events, including Tuesday evening conversations, art-making at the Schneider, and Free Family Day events at the museum.

“It’s very compelling, very beautiful work that all audiences, all ages will enjoy,” Schneider Museum of Art Director Scott Malbaurn says of Favela’s work.

Favela’s murals extend through the largest gallery at the Schneider. Explosions of color whet every part of the palette and palate: there’s a huge purple ham sliced for serving, a Guatemalan tortilla folded with a fresh, soft boiled egg, a golden flan custard dripping with caramel sauce, an artichoke standing in all of its spiky green glory. Favela’s murals depict the relationship between human and fuel, a full color rendering of food that feeds the body and the soul.

He created the mural installation, which he calls “Together/Juntos,” with his students to tell the stories of food and family, of home and heart. The murals are tissue paper mosaics, with white space waiting for community participants.

“I do installation work, and that takes up a lot of space, so having volunteers or a lot of artists are part of the process,” explained Favela. “I really try to engage more people, and for museums it’s very important to bring in the community; it’s a great way to structure programming.”

Favela is a native of Las Vegas and of Guatemalan and Mexican heritage, which flavor his art with intense hues, abstract representation and outsized symbologies. Transient, temporary and of the moment, Favela’s murals are composed of paint and cardboard, paper and glue, feathered with fronds that lift and wave in the breeze, adapting the techniques of the piñata to his art. Favela works on large expanses, such as the sides of buildings, and smaller areas, transforming two-dimensional space into three-dimensional cultural icons that seem to breathe.

On Tuesdays from 4 to 8 p.m. through Dec. 14, except for Thanksgiving week, Favela will hold a free comic court of art-making and conversation at the Schneider Museum. The evenings with Favela will be complete with food — maybe pizza, maybe tacos — and everyone’s invited to RSVP to the Schneider’s open offer.

Tuesday evenings are all about connecting the community with art, and Favela is skilled at conversation, an informal and personal banter that establishes relationships quickly and easily. People talk and laugh together, and in odd moments, Favela may pull out his guitar. Whoever shows up adds to the mural, filling in negative space with strips of tissue, piñata style.

Favela will also host the Schneider Museum’s Free Family Days the first Saturday of November and December. Every Free Family Day is different, but the first one will celebrate the Day of the Dead.

“We’ll make flower and flower clowns using tissue paper, the same materials as the exhibition. It’s an opportunity to teach people about art,” Favela says. “The next Family Day is centered around food, so we’ll make food sculptures, all activities that are easy and enjoyable, different levels of complexity, to make art that families can take home with them.”

Favela is one of several Latinx artists featured in the Schneider’s fall exhibit. Victor Maldonado’s work, “Excerpts from a Book I’ll Never Write,” hangs in the Heiter Gallery. The large-scale, abstract works offer windows into an unknown and only suggested landscape of the mind.

The Treehaven Gallery features the work of 16 Chicana/o and Latinx printmakers and visual artists associated with the Self Help Graphics & Art collective in Los Angeles. The organization is rooted in community and makes art that is at the intersection of social justice and contemporary art.

Art Historian Jennifer Longshore will talk about the Schneider Museum’s fall exhibitions at a free lecture at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 7. Longshore will discuss the globalization of art, art as political activism, and why the word “Latinx” is central to the work on exhibition at Schneider.

The Schneider Museum is open Monday-Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Tuesdays until 8 p.m. For more information, see SMA.SOU.edu, call 541-552-6245 or email sma@sou.edu.

Reach Ashland freelance writer Maureen Flanagan Battistella at mbattistellaor@gmail.com.

Photo by Maureen Flanagan BattistellaAshlanders Francie Ghidinelli, Patt Fisher and Margaret Garrington enjoy an afternoon at the Schneider Museum of Art. They are seated in the Heiter Gallery, in front of two Victor Maldonado vibrant abstracts.
Photo by Maureen Flanagan BattistellaSouthern Oregon University student, Layne Santos examines the detail of Justin Favela’s Together/Juntos installation of murals. Note the negative space in white waiting for public artmaking on Tuesday evenings at the Schneider Museum of Art.