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Monday, May 3, 2010

Juan Chawuk Connects With Latino Arts Gallery

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Latino Arts Inc. continually strives to provide Milwaukee with the artwork of acclaimed Latin artists. In keeping with that mission, the current exhibit “Coexistencia en Chiapas y Aqui” brings painter, photographer and sculptor Juan Chawuk from Chiapas, Mexico, to Milwaukee with a sponsorship by the National Museum of Mexican Art. At the Latino Arts Gallery in the United Community Center (1028 S. Ninth St.), Chawuk presents a substantial show of more than 20 paintings, 14 photographs and two sculptures, including several with mixed-media applications.

Through his artwork, Chawuk intends to “connect” the people in Chiapas, who have fewer material possessions, with U.S. citizens, who have more technological advancements. Numerous images portray Chawuk’s belief in an unseen cosmic energy and universal consciousness that lies within each person, regardless of birthplace, culture or upbringing. The predominate blues and greens in his artwork symbolize the profound, infinite energy that he believes coexists with nature.

An interactive installation titled La Vida (The Life) covers the gallery wall and floor with an immense canvas. Displaying waves of blue sea and sky where human figures float above the background, each figure in the painting connects to an energy source through a cord, similar to an umbilical cord. Viewers are invited to step on the floor canvas, “connect” themselves to one of the vibrant cords coming from the installation and capture this connection on film. This verifies the individual’s “freedom to fly above any preconceived beliefs locked inside the individual person,” creating a scene where everyone enjoys a collective imagination and inspiration.

Another large painting pays homage to Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus. Chawuk envisions a huge seashell as a time machine where an older, wiser nude with flowing silver hair arrives on shore in The Time Triumph.His painting encourages viewers to reflect on age as eternally beautiful, a natural process to be welcomed, because everyone in all cultures experiences growing older.

At a reception from 5 to 7:30 p.m. on Friday, May 14, Chawuk will talk about his belief that “the human being needs to go beyond religion and physical matter to find the higher energy that is necessary to connect us all.” At 7:30 p.m., the ensemble La Catrina Quartet, which has performed at Carnegie Hall, will complete the evening with classical and Latin music.