Monday, October 01, 2012

". . .a major socially conscious artist whose works would be far more visible if he resided in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago"

On Mariano Gonzales in Tikkun:
M. Gonzales - posted with artist's permission

"Rarely do we imagine Alaska as a major center of art and culture, save for its well-recognized tradition of exceptional Native sculpture, painting, and printmaking.

These generalizations are largely accurate* but incomplete. Alaska is also the residence of a major socially conscious artist whose works would be far more visible if he resided in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, or indeed, in any major urban center in the “lower 48,” especially one with a substantial Latino population."

So begins a long article by Paul Von Blum, UCLA Senior Lecurer,  on Anchorage artist and UAA art professor Mariano Gonzales in the influential national Jewish magazine Tikkun that regularly takes on difficult topics.  (Tikkun olam, in Hebrew, means "to repair the world.")  Mariano is a true local boy here, having grown up in Anchorage. 

M. Gonzales -Collateral Damage - with artist's permission

I've known Mariano as a colleague at UAA and as a student in his digital art class**.  He's a self-effacing man in person and dedicated to his art and his students.  He's not big on promoting his work. (He told me that Von Blum saw his work and contacted him.)  But as you can see from the pictures I've posted here - with permission from Mariano - he has some strong feelings and he thrusts his artistic knife right into the heart of an issue.

There are other examples with the Tikkun article.

He told me he's working on new images now for a solo exhibit at the Anchorage Museum of Art and History in 2014. I should mention the images I have up here are much lower resolution than they deserve. But you can click on them to see them a little better.

*I should also counter Von Blum's image of Anchorage as a cultural desert.  Mariano is by no means the only impressive member of the Anchorage cultural scene.  Given our small population (under 300,000), we have a constant variety of local art, music, and theater events to take up one's time every night of the week in great venues small and large.  This blog regularly mentions just a few of the many.  And Outside performers seem to  enjoy the small town hospitality and the chance to share their talents in the school system and with other locals, as well as to enjoy all the natural beauty Paul Van Bloom did mention.  Tonight, for example I'm going to the first of a three evening songwriting workshop with the amazing singer Dan Bern.

Mariano Gonzales - Carousel - Posted with Permission of the Artist

**He's not responsible for my weak photoshop attempts, but whenever I actually do get something right, it can be traced back to things I learned from Mariano.  You can see other posts that mention Mariano - particularly the class - here.


  1. I'm so happy Mariano's visionary work has gotten acknowledged at such and important outlet for looking at people who challenge uncomfortable paradigms. I'l share this at Progressive Alaska, if you don't mind, Steve.

  2. I'm not sure Mariano would be "...far more visible if he resided in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, or indeed, in any major urban center in the “lower 48"...."

    These are poppingly beautiful visuals, but more illustrative -- a thousands words and all that -- of "strong ideas" that may go right over the heads of the people he is trying to reach, to educate.

    Over the last four decades, I've seen how visually illiterate people have become. And now that art is no longer taught in schools and aesthetics in everyday life is unimportant... I'm speaking very generally, but there it is. As in, "as long as it works, what does it matter what it looks like" kind of attitude.

    Most people use their eyes to keep from bumping into things.

    Too harsh?

  3. Yes, of course Phil.

    Harsh, Barbara? A little. Too harsh? I hope so. I think the combination of beauty and brains still does get people's attention. And if they get mad, at least they got touched and understood enough to be be concerned.


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