By BRENDA REES
MOUNT WASHINGTON — One of the last long-running solo art shows that was presented at the Southwest Museum featured the work of Raoul De la Sota. Now, nearly a decade later, the Highland Park artist returns to the famed museum, curating a month-long art exhibition inspired by the nearby Arroyo Seco.
For the Love of the Arroyo presents work of 15 local artists that celebrates the rural and urban landscapes of the Arroyo Seco. The show kicks off with an Opening Day Reception on May 21 – the Museums of the Arroyo Day – and runs until June 18.
De la Sota approached the Autry Museum of the American West, which merged with the Southwest Museum, last year about holding the group show at Mount Washington landmark, which is normally open to the public only a few hours a week.
“Some of the work shows off the museum as an integral part of the Arroyo,” says De la Sota who wanted to give local artists a chance to display their work to a larger public. “I wanted to include artists who lived in the proximity of the Arroyo, from the terminus at Devil’s Gate Dam all the way to downtown,” he says. “I wanted locals who have experienced this historic and culturally important landscape to visually interpret what the Arroyo means.”
Indeed, the show, which is sponsored by several local organizations and businesses, includes a variety of mediums, such as paint, collage, graphics, photography and drawings to portray the diversity of the area.
To help with curatorial duties, De la Sota enlisted fellow artist Roderick Smith to help bring in artists for the show.
Months ago, when De la Sota contacted the artists he wanted to participate, he only told them the title of the exhibition. “I said ‘Here’s a show, give me some work,’” he explains adding that he doesn’t select already finished art when he curates an exhibition. “My philosophy is to choose the artist. That’s the important element.”
For the last weeks, De la Sota has been receiving artwork for the show, getting a first-hand glimpse of how locals have expressed the arroyo. “It’s like Christmas, my birthday and New Year’s all combined in one day!” exclaims De la Sota about the artwork that he’s seeing.
After the opening reception on MOTA Day – which runs from 11am to 1pm – the exhibition will be on view to the public on weekends from 10am – 4pm. A Meet the Artists series is scheduled throughout the run of the show bringing together the artists to discuss their work with art lovers. (All artists will be in attendance at the opening day reception.)
De la Sota is also extremely open to curating another show at the Southwest or mounting a For Love of the Arroyo, Part II.
“We haven’t run out of artists who can work with this theme,” says De la Sota adding that he hopes visitors will come to appreciate not only the art but the structure they are in. “When people come and see this historic site of the Southwest Museum, they will want to preserve it and see it used more in the community,” he says.
For the Love of the Arroyo opens May 21 and runs until June 18. Artwork will be for sale for pickup after show ends; 10 percent of all sales will go toward Avenue 50 Studio’s project to restore Daniel Cervantes’s 2004 mural on Marmion Way at the Southwest Museum.