CALEXICO, Calif. — Imperial Valley College art student Kimberly Alcazar squinted as she tried to visually connect photographs in a multi-dimensional and multi-medium exhibit during the opening of a local art exhibition.
Alcazar was among dozens of students, teachers, friends, and art fans that gathered at Calexico’s Steppling Art Gallery on October 7 for the opening of the “Obscured Eye” art exhibition. The gallery, located at 720 Heber Ave. continues open every Wednesday through October 25.
The opening featured four artists —Alexandra Balestrieri, Jennifer Cuellar, Elizabeth Lopez, and curator Kyle Herrera— in an exhibit that comprehensively explores, “perception, cognition, and the obstacles imposed on them,” through the mediums of photography, painting, drawing, and interactive mixed media.
“I think [spectators] are allowed to take whatever they want from it,” said Herrera, curator and photography exhibitor. “Just as long as they come with an open mind and are willing to be inquisitive.”
Lopez, a former Imperial Valley College student, exhibited five paintings and an installation, an exhibit she painted on-site. Lopez explores in her art the themes of globalization, immigration, and Mexican identity using the “sombrero” as a symbol.
“The theme was the obscured eye because each artist has their subjective reality, a lens that they see the world through,” said Lopez about the theme of the exhibit.
Herrera, exhibit curator, and his former art professor and current gallery director, Sheila Dollente, organized the “Obscured Eye” show at San Diego State University’s Imperial Valley Campus. Planning took six months and Herrera said he hopes the exhibit broadens the themes of art in the valley.
“I think [the exhibit] has been received very well. I’m very satisfied with the volume of people we’ve received tonight,” said Herrera.
Imperial Valley College art professor Thomas Gilbertson was among the attendees at the exhibit opening. Cuellar and Lopez both took art courses from Gilbertson five years ago.
“I enjoyed it,” said Gilbertson about the exhibition. “It’s really exciting to see them doing really professional work.”
Alejandro Cabrera, a 25-year-old IVC art student, said more exhibitions like the “Obscured Eye,” should be held in the Imperial Valley. He says that to gain exposure, artists often need to join exhibitions in Mexico.
Lopez said lack of interest in art in the valley often pushes area artists to exhibit in Mexico and this fosters cultural tensions. “There are a lot of patriarchal traditions here in the valley,” Lopez said. “It’s been just really frustrating to really see it and really feel that, yes, you’re an artist, but you’re also a female,” she added.
Gilbertson plans to offer a future art course in which students will curate IVC’s soon-to-be-built art gallery. The gallery, which burned down a few years ago, is scheduled for completion by fall 2010 and would provide a platform for students to gain exposure, something young local artists say they are starving for.
“There aren’t really places for students to show their art,” said Cabrera. “Which actually really sucks!”