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Gennaro Garcia
Calvin Charles Gallery, Scottsdale, Arizona
Recommendation by Deborah Ross

Gennaro Garcia, “La Coronación,” mixed media, 60 x 84”. Courtesy of Calvin Charles Gallery

Continuing through January 29, 2018

Gennaro Garcia embraces dualities, particularly the fact that his work is steeped in the traditions of his native Mexico, though he has long lived and worked in Phoenix and is seen as a leader among the city’s Latinx artists. He’s known for his versatile work in ceramics, printmaking, woodworking, textiles and paintings, and is a co-founder of the noted muralists cooperative Calle 16. The celebration of Mexico is in full bloom in this set of new mixed media and acrylic paintings. They are bolstered by a street art sensibility achieved through graffiti-like swirls, splotches and textual elements which figure in every background. Not surprisingly, the colors are as vibrant as a striped serape.

The standout painting is “La Coronación,” exerting a strong presence at seven feet tall. Detailed and electric, it portrays the queen of death, bearing a crown of skulls. She is adorned with the pancake makeup associated with Dia de los Muertos, and her chest tattoo depicts an eagle and snake as seen on the Mexican flag. Meanwhile, freeform stripes, circles, drips and spray-painted areas on an intensely layered background underscore the connections to barrio life. Similarly styled paintings pay tribute to Frida Kahlo, who has long fascinated Garcia, as well as to Juana Bravo, a celebrated Mexican chef, and to the mystique of strong women in general. Lively additions of flowers, butterflies and Madonna figures offer a panoply of Mexican iconography. Garcia wears his binational heart on his sleeve in effusive works that reference but rise above folk art.

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