What began as casual coffee shop chats among five El Pasoans has developed into an ongoing friendship and a joint creative venture.
Edward Reyes, Jacqueline Aguirre, Javier Hernandez, Carlos Humphreys, and Aryk Gardea met by being regulars at Joe Vinny and Bronsons Bohemian Cafe on Piedras Street in Central El Paso.
After discovering a shared appreciation for art, they decided to work together to support their vision of a community gallery. They secured a narrow space next to the coffee shop and opened Galeria Cinco Puntos in January.
Gardea, whose background is in art with a BFA in ceramics and painting from UTEP and a MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute in sculpture, pitched the idea of launching the gallery with an exhibit featuring the Horned Toad Prints exchange.
“We started with this print exchange because it focused on the community on a larger stage,” said Aguirre, a multimedia journalist student and art enthusiast.
Horned Toad Prints showcased works from its second print exchange in featuring print works by artists from all over the world, including pieces from Mexico, Australia and Ireland.
The print exchange was an opened themed worldwide invitation for printmakers to send ten original-made pieces using intaglio, lithography and relief of serigraphy printing techniques to Horned Toad Prints. Two pieces from each artist were selected for educational purposes and exhibitions.
“The print exchange is a great way for printmakers who trade prints to get to know each other and build their personal art collection,” said Manuel Guerra, the owner of Horned Toad Prints.
It is also an opportunity for El Pasoans to see what is happening in and outside their community in regards to art and culture, he said.
“Our goals for our exchange are to promote local, national and international artist from various professional levels and different backgrounds,” Guerra said. “We produce and exhibit work from established and emerging artists with emphasis on cultural diversity of the Latino community. And we promote awareness of the Latino art and its importance in the community”.
Galeria Cinco Puntos is self-funded by the five founders who hope to form a non-profit to support showcasing more community artists and reflecting a strong border spirit.
“We are more than the violence and so and so forth, we have other beautiful things we want to display,” Reyes said.
Living on the border has a unique influence on artists’ work, Guerra said.
“I think that it is an inspiration living here in El Paso, right next to Juarez and the border, there’s no place like it on Earth” said Guerra. “El Paso art is very human,very homely”.
The gallery is located in El Paso’s Five Points area at 822 North Piedras Street, between Joe Vinny & Bronson’s Bohemian Cafe and Coconuts Bar & Grill. More information is available on the gallery’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/GaleriaCincoPuntos/