Provided by Presa House Gallery
The cover art this week is called Corner with the sky (2016) by Edinburg, TX native, Donald Jerry Lyles Jr. He earned his M.F.A. in painting from American University in Washington D.C. in 2000, B.F.A. in painting from Kansas City Art Institute in 1995. He also is an alumnus of the Chautauqua School of Art Summer Program, 1990. Since 2015 Lyles has served as Associate Professor of Art at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. Previously Lyles taught Painting and Drawing at the University of Louisiana Monroe and the University of Texas-Pan American.
“Most of my current work is based on an observational, referential reaction to my environment, and I am interested in the tension between space and our response to it. The impact of a sense of place and the actual physical aspects of a location can profoundly affect people as individuals and communities.”
This work is part of Presa House Gallery’s final exhibition of their 2021 schedule also featuring artists Rigoberto A. González, a native of Mexico, Tejana, Gina Gwen Palacios, born and raised with deep-seated roots in South Texas. The University of Texas Río Grande Valley School of Art and Design colleagues paint their visual record of the U.S. – Mexico borderlands based on observation, experience, and memory. South of the Checkpoint/North of the River highlights their depictions of La Frontera, a geographical region where two cultures collide, through the lens of three artists. It explores the question Do different cultural backgrounds and experiences impact how we understand, view, and paint the landscape? The opening reception will be held on Saturday, December 4, from 7:00-11 pm, and the exhibition will remain on view by appointment through December 25, 2021.
Rigoberto A. González (B. 1973) was born in Reynosa Tamaulipas, Mexico, Rigoberto lives in Edinburg, Texas. He holds a B.F.A. from The University of Texas at Pan America in 1999 and an M.F.A. from the New York Academy of Art in 2004. He currently teaches drawing and painting at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. Gonzalez’s work has been exhibited at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, Washington, DC, the Konsthallen Bohuslan Museum, Uddevalla, Sweden, The Museum of Contemporary Art Branch of the National Museum in Wrocław, Poland, The Guildhall Art Gallery, London, England. Rigoberto has participated in artist residencies at the Roswell Artist Residency, Roswell, New Mexico, and the Santa Fe Art Institute Artist Residency Program, Santa Fe, New Mexico.
“The border is an area I am fascinated with and find rich with the subject matter. As a painter working primarily on large-scale, mural-sized oil paintings, I have decided to make the border the focus of my work. It is a region with the confluence of two cultures, where the river not so much divides but unites.”
Gina Gwen Palacios (B. 1977) was born in Taft, Texas. She earned an M.F.A. in Painting from the Rhode Island School of Design, a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Studio Art at Brandeis University, an M.A. from The University of Texas at Austin in Instructional Technology, a B.A. from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi in T.V./Film and an A.A. from Del Mar College in Radio/Television. Gina has exhibited at Arlington Art Center, Arlington, VA, Five Points Museum of Contemporary Art, Victoria, TX, Asya Geisberg Gallery, New York, NY, Villa Victoria Center for the Arts, Boston, MA, List Art Center, Brown University, Providence, RI, BAIT15, Abu Dhabi, U.A.E. and the Newport Art Museum, Newport, RI.
My work highlights the underrepresented geographic and cultural narrative of South Texas. Growing up in the region, I absorbed my parents’ stories about migrant farm work, cotton picking, and the discrimination they experienced. My history, along with many others, is deeply embedded in this highly politicized border landscape. My paintings respond to walking through this harsh and beautiful landscape and translating what I see and experience.
Excerpt from Painting La Frontera by Joseph Bravo
The tradition of landscape painting is alive and well in the Rio Grande River Valley, and it is as aesthetically pertinent and culturally resonant as ever. It also comes in styles and optics as diverse as the people of the region. For these artists, at least, where one lives still matters a great deal and is more determinative of one’s sense of identity than anything that transpires in cyberspace. The geographic place still dictates their sense of history, their sense of justice, and their perception of environmental and social hazards.
While that River brings life to an otherwise inhospitable land, life along it has involved arduous struggle and danger from time immemorial. It has been a place of the conflation of ecosystems and cultures, a place of conflict and strife, a place with a promise of prosperity and peril … a place of boundaries and their crossings.
These depictions of the landscape along La Frontera convey this sense of dualism, and, like the artists who create them, they spring from the soil with some ambivalence about their sense of place. In these paintings, the artists convey their profound connection to their specific environment; but there is also a pervasive triste, an abiding sadness in their artworks. With that unrelenting struggle comes a fatigue and disappointment at its unfulfilled promise. But nonetheless, like the people on both sides of that River, landscape painting tenaciously endures.
Joseph Bravo is a San Antonio-based art historian, curator, and writer. He has devoted his life and career to education and the interdisciplinary study of art and curation.