UNDER THE GUN: JENELLE ESPARZA & RAFAEL GUTIERREZ
CURATED BY MICHELE MONSEAU/THREE WALLS
UNDER THE GUN: JENELLE ESPARZA & RAFAEL GUTIERREZ JULY 8 - 29, 2017
ABOUT THE EXHIBITION
The idiom “under the gun” became a colloquialism around the turn of the 20th century and though its etymology is debatable, it is commonly used to indicate a direct threat, being at risk or under pressure. In 2017, to be under great pressure—or direct threat—is the norm, which is having a profound effect on the global population. Climate change, rampant government corruption, mass displacement, capitalism run amok, abject police brutality, state sanctioned murder with impunity, the legislation of womens’ bodies, species extinction and the erosion of freedom in democratic societies combine to form what Norwegian author, psychologist and clean energy advocate Per Espen Stoknes calls “the great grief.” In Under The Gun, both artists probe grief, anger and defiance in the face of constant pressure.
Jenelle Esparza’s installation Weeds explores the idea that while a weed is considered undesirable in one context it is simply “a plant in the wrong place,” and thereby perfectly acceptable in another. This analogy applies to just about any political issue, since anything can be argued endlessly from polarized points of view. The work in Weeds pulls from polemic quotes from both sides of the political field, pairing them to generate new meanings. “Fists and hands growing out of the gallery floor can be considered weeds depending on who's looking at them,” Esparza says, “there are stories written in the lines of our palms, in the trunks of trees, on leaves and in the mountain ranges of the world. As I work with this theory, I find myself studying the ancestry and identity of people, landmasses and other organic forms of life as they relate to culture and community. The landscape interests me because identities are tied to it. Through found objects, abstracted natural textures, historical anecdotes and traditional photography, I will continue working with this premise.”
Rafael Gutierrez’s installation Washed Power of False Profits is concerned with methods of communication that echo problems with race relations, nationality, proselytization and individuality within both micro and macro society. In this exhibition, Gutierrez’s text-based works employ particular color choices and various homophones to create paintings that interconnect personal and universal issues—and struggles—in contemporary American culture.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Jenelle Esparza is originally from Corpus Christi, Texas. Primarily a photographer, Esparza also works in multi-media installation and abstract photo-based work. She received her BFA in photography from the University of Texas at San Antonio in 2010. She was recently awarded the 2015 NALAC (Nat’l Association of Latino Arts and Culture) Artist Grant for her project El Color de la Obra, exhibited at the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center. She has exhibited regionally and is currently Education Coordinator at the McNay Art Museum.
Rafael Gutierrez is an interdisciplinary artist with a BFA in Studio Art Practices and a minor Art History from The University of Texas at San Antonio. He spent his early years in Augusta, Georgia, and lived throughout the US, Europe and Asia before settling in San Antonio as an Emergency Medical Technician in The United States Air Force. His work is concerned with the various ways in which race, ethnicity, language and personal identity shape the history of the world.
Gutierrez has exhibited throughout Texas, merging installation, painting and performance in various ways. Recent exhibitions include a solo show titled What It Means at Clamplight Studios (San Antonio, TX). Recent group exhibitions include New Art/Arte Nuevo 2016, UTSA Art Gallery (San Antonio, TX); Red Dot, Blue Star Contemporary (San Antonio, TX); (Non) Commercial: Share Alike, Trebla Art Gallery (San Antonio, TX); Group Hug, Cement Loop Gallery (Austin, TX); as well as an upcoming exhibition Controlled Burn at the Mini Art Museum (San Antonio, TX), which will travel throughout Columbia in July 2017. In 2016, Gutierrez received a Contemporary Art Month Award for Participatory Art.
Image: Rafael Gutierrez, Washed Power of False Profits (Black Power), detail; mixed media installation
ABOUT THREE WALLS
Three Walls is an artist-run contemporary art gallery in San Antonio, TX. In the 18 years it has been in operation, Three Walls has presented over 100 exhibitions of local, national and international contemporary artists, and garnered local, regional and national press including coverage in Art In America, Art Issues, Art Lies, Art Papers, Glasstire, The San Antonio Express-News and the SA Current. The mission of Three Walls is to encourage exhibiting artists to take risks with their work, as well as to foster critical dialog within the art community. Three Walls aims to propel art and artists forward in their evolution and process of discovery.
In 2012, Three Walls lost its long-time location at the Blue Star Complex, and has found new life and a new direction as a roving pop-up space that takes on special projects. In 2014, director Michele Monseau received an Idea Fund grant (through the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts) to mount an exchange exhibition between Three Walls and Centro Cultural Border in Mexico City. In 2015, Three Walls partnered with Habitable Spaces, an artist residency and sustainable farm in Kingsbury, TX. This year, Three Walls is partnering with Sala Diaz to bring you Under The Gun.