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Only One Leg to Stand On

By Edward Swift

My fourth exhibition at the Museo de la Ciudad de Querétaro opens on June 23 at 8pm. The exhibition is titled Solamente una pierna para estar de pie (Only One Leg to Stand On). It consists of 18 sculptures to be viewed from all sides and 12 mounted on the walls. Almost all have only one leg; some mysteriously have two and wonder why. Additionally, I will exhibit 16 empty shoes.

The title is based on an idiomatic expression in English. In a lawsuit that has no witnesses, you don’t have a chance to win, or “you don’t have a leg to stand on.” The idea for this series came from two sources: my mother and the late San Miguel artist Nicholas Cuellar. My mother, however, used the expression a little differently. Forever playing on her widowhood, she would say, “I am nothing but a tired, old, worn-out widow with only one leg to stand on, so give me some respect; I’m doing the best I can.” Of course, my cousins and I would fall into fits of laughter when Mother got going, and our laughter encouraged her to invent many variations on this theme.

The second inspiration, Nicholas Cuellar, lived on Jesus Street where I often visited him. Once he would not allow me to leave until I bought two drawings. In one of the drawings there is a man with a backpack and only one leg. I have been haunted by this figure for a long time, and finally I decided to do something about it. Many of the figures in this series have backpacks filled with their collections: used wire, lost souls, screws, and sticks. Almost all the figures are doing something in spite of their limitations.

The work consists of wood and wire armatures covered with a skin of paper paste that I made myself using a formula set down by the late Clyde Connell, a Louisiana artist who enjoyed international fame for the last 30 years of her life. She died at the age of 97. Along with Clyde Connell’s paper paste, I used large pieces of paper to add a second texture and darker colors. The wall pieces are all painted. Four works have a coat of gesso and nothing more.

If you wish to attend the inauguration, transportation is very easy. A second-class bus leaves from the San Miguel terminal every 15–20 minutes (either Pegasso or Coordinados). Travel time is approximately an hour and a half. The last return bus is around midnight. If you wish to stay over, I and many of my friends will be at the Hidalgo Hotel on Calle Madero. I hope to see you there.


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