New Gallery Inauguration

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By Donna Meyer

San Miguel’s Colonia Guadalupe became an official “Arts District” for its street art—dozens of contemporary murals by graffiti artists from all over the world. But the neighborhood has not become a gallery district. San Miguel artist Lena Bartula wants to change that. “After expanding my exhibitions into museums and other spaces, I found my work had outgrown my studio gallery at home,” she explains. “When this new space was offered here in the Arts District, my own neighborhood, I knew it was the opportunity I’d been waiting for.”

Lena Bartula/“La Huipilista”/Art Space opens Friday, September 22, from 5–8pm, at Julian Carillo 1, just doors from Calzada de la Luz. The new space includes three rooms and a small sunny patio where guests might spill over during opening receptions and other events. Regular hours are Thurs–Sat, 1–5pm.

Why “Art Space?” “I see a place for living the artful life,” Bartula explains. She sees it as something well beyond a simple gallery. “I want it to be spontaneous. I envision pop-ups, unexpected objects and events, a place of vision and imagination. And not just my work. I’ll invite others to come tell their stories too, whether in images, textiles, colors, or words, like poetry readings. The patio might accommodate weavers from Oaxaca and Chiapas with backstrap looms, displaying and selling their work. Multiple salas allow for visiting artists to stay while teaching, creating, and exhibiting.”

Bartula is best known for her “contemporary huipiles,” which make emotional, provocative, or biting commentary on issues like migrants, violence against women, consumerism, and GMOs. Over a 40-year career, she has produced paintings in oil, acrylic, and watercolor, collage and mixed-media pieces, assemblage, and book arts, as well as photography. All these will find a place in the new Art Space.

The artist has long believed art has the power to transform, to heal, to uncover truths too often hidden and hold them up to the light for healing. This led directly to her “contemporary huipiles.” Her study of these intricate traditional blouses of indigenous women of southern Mexico/Central America was a natural outgrowth of her desire to tell deep stories. Captured by the beauty, mystery, and storytelling aspects of huipiles for 20 years, she explains that historically these garments were identifying badges. They related a woman’s history—her birth village, social, and marital status, wealth and personality. After the Conquest, the messages became more subversive, passing on religious beliefs, agricultural secrets, and other forbidden information.

“I immediately loved the idea of using the huipil as a storytelling vehicle. I was already including messages in my work, but this was both more intricate and direct. Plus, I had fallen in love with textile, fiber, and weaving. Including it in my work was just the next logical step.”

At the opening of Lena Bartula/“La Huipilista”/Art Space, visitors can read some of those stories in the huipiles, as well as enjoy other aspects of Bartula’s work.

 

Gallery Inauguration

Lena Bartula “La Huipilista”

Fri, Sep 22, 5–8pm

Julian Carillo 1, just doors from Calzada de la Luz

 

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