North and South of the Border”
North and South of the Border by Maureen Herron
(Sedona, AZ, July 15, 2014) “North and South of the Border” opens Friday, August 1, 5 PM, at James Ratliff Gallery, Hillside Sedona, 671 State Route 179, Suites A1 & A-2, Sedona, AZ. At 6 PM, the Ratliffs will make a short presentation to attendees and will be available for questions and inquiries.
In his 50th anniversary year in fine art, the James Ratliff chose “North and South of the Border” to provide an in-depth cultural exploration of the ties that bind us as Americans to our neighbors. The heritage of civilizations reaches back into those artifacts whether they be utilitarian pots, ritualistic masks, rough carvings, images designating totems or fetishes, imaginative creative expressions by the maker. The Ratliffs’ long history of supporting art and artists of the Southwest and parallel cultural organizations like Friends of Mexican Art credential their selections for exhibition in August as a provocative setting to steep the public into the collective consciousness.
It’s time to take this “border” preoccupation today from the factory warehousing subjecting young dreamers to a deeper dialogue asking, “Why”. Films like “Traffic”, “The Counselor”, “Frida”, “The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada” recount the panorama of social/historical issues; however, centuries of conquest, persecutions, struggles recount the determination of these civilizations. The art tells these peoples’ stories. “North and South of the Border” presents this work for the public to understand.
More recently, Porfirio Diaz tried to exterminate the Yaqui in the 19th century and this people, at the time named, Yoemem, resorted to fleeing their slave labor conditions by establishing communities in Tucson and Phoenix. To date, the popularly-recognized Yaquis recount their stories during cultural fiestas as well as perpetuating their communities’ traditions with the popular dance many know as “The Deer Dance”. Behind and in this dance are references to creation, religion and celebration.
This Holy Week tradition is also celebrated by the Cora people of Nayarit, Mexico. Papier Mache masks are fabricated for wearing during the celebrations and then destroyed at week’s end. More than representational, masks by the Zitlala, Guerrero are functional, tough, leather full-head protectants complete with real boar bristles and are used to engage dancers in combat as they recount pre-conquest days of their country.
Taking the utilitarian pot idea to a new use was Edna Leki, Zuni who learned her culture’s traditions at the knees of her father. Edna adapted the pot into a fetish jar which was used during Kiva ceremonies in her land. As a fetish carver herself, Edna introduced this conversion of a previously-used pot as storage or water into a commemorative holder for the fetish, complete with open feeding hole in which cornmeal was inserted.
Bridging ancestral and modern traditions of Southwest artists is the internationally-known R.C. Gorman born of Navajo Chinle culture and world-traveler and explorer of merging traditions and personal interests in myth, cuisine and storytelling into iconic imagery that connected ancient imagery with contemporary art. Known to the Ratliffs for many years, Gorman was an approachable person who easily conversed with patrons until his death in 2005.
“North and South of the Border” will actually be art and artifacts collection exhibition, uniquely available for enjoyment and purchase, to include works in addition to those artists referenced above: pots by Fannie Nampeyo, Vangie Tafoya, and Ron Suazo; artwork by Beth Ames Swartz, Fritz Scholder, Carlos Merida, Francisco Zuniga, & Bill Schenck; vintage carved and painted masks & figures from Mexico, Yaqui Indian masks and Native American jewelry.
Original Painting by Carlos Merida - 11 x 8.5 - Mixed Media on Art Tissue
Early Zia, San Ildefonso or Acoma Pot with Piecrust Top. Clay and Pigment - 10 x 13
R.C. Gorman Lithograph- 10 of 40 - 1970 - 24 x 18
Hopi Fannie Nampeyo Pottery
Painting by San Ildefonso Native J.D. Roybal
Paul Dyke - Song for a New Day - Egg tempera with Oil Glazes - 10 x 17 - 1964
Tigre Mask from Guerrero Mexico - 12 x 14 x 10 - leather, bristles, mirrors, paint
Mexican Dance Mask from Vera Cruz - Wood & Paint - 28 x 14 x 9