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Opening new exhibition Paul Valadez: Mucho Caramelo
Caravan News 1593

Opening new exhibition Paul Valadez: Mucho Caramelo

The Reynolds Gallery at the University of the Pacific is pleased to announce the opening of the fall semester exhibition season with Paul Valadez: Mucho Caramelo. This exhibition of work gifted to the university in the spring of 2019 by artist Paul Valadez features over 90 acrylic paintings on paper and collages on found paper. Thanks to his generous donation, funding from Latin American Studies program, and the Office of the President at the University of the Pacific, this body of work will become part of Pacific’s permanent art collection.

Paul Valadez grew up in Stockton and moved to San Francisco to pursue training and an art career. He earned his bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary art from the San Francisco Art Institute and his master’s in studio art from University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill where he was awarded a Weiss Fellowship for Urban Livability. Valadez’ work is held in numerous national and international museums, institutions, and educational facilities across the US. Valadez is a professor in the Art department at the University of Texas, Rio Grande Valley, located at the U.S.-Mexican border.

Food, music, and the experience of growing up in a bi-cultural family inform the semi-satirical social commentary of Paul Valadez’ art. “Mucho Caramelo” the text from one of the “Great Mexican American Songbook” collages gives the show its title. Referring not only to the many shades of brown skin that have served as the basis both for discrimination and celebration, it reminds us that Mexican culture pre-dates Anglo culture in the Americas. It also suggests the idea that art might be something consumable, particularly in candy flavored bites

Combining text and image, Valadez makes us question our understanding of seemingly simple words. Mexican delicacies - tacos, fajitas, and icy raspas - informally painted on richly colored grounds suggest complex notions of personal identity that are more than surface deep. The hand drawn text, reminiscent of diy signage, is easy to read but through repetition becomes resistant to deconstruction. Valadez elaborates on this theme in the series “The Great Mexican-American Songbook.” Here he reimagines the canon of musical Americana with collages that include forgotten stories and poke fun at sentimental nostalgia. He creates visual dissonance by digging deeper, challenging language with examples of “Spanglish,” unconventional spelling, untranslatable slang, and re-appropriated slurs producing a dark visual counternarrative.

An opening reception Thursday August 29, from 6 – 8 pm is free and open to the public. The artist and Dr. Martin Camps, Program Director for Latin American Studies will be on hand and to make short remarks. The Reynolds Gallery is located in the Jeannette Powell Art Center on the campus of the University of the Pacific at 1071 W. Mendocino Ave in Stockton. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and visit us at http://go.pacific.edu/ReynoldsGallery. Gallery hours Monday – Friday, 9:00 am – 4:30 pm.

CONTACT: Department of Art & Graphic Design
(209) 946-2241, reynoldsgallery@pacific.edu.

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