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Arts & Culture

The Curator Diaries Week 5: Making decisions for the CAM Perennial

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Multiple times throughout this story I have visited artists without any real knowledge of what to do, or who to work with. This week was pivotal for decision-making. From my conversation with David Mercado Gonzales, I decided that this CAM Perennial had to be a community-based exhibition.

[The Curator Diaries Week 5 Bonus: Remarkable clarity]

Curating works such as these requires relinquishing a certain amount of control: In the end, the final outcome is dependent upon the community and audience that visits the exhibition. From a curator’s perspective it can be a scary thing to let go of outcomes; after all, controlling outcomes is a lot of what my profession is about. That said, there are a few parameters that I decided to set: I am not interested in delving into identity politics, nor am I interested in isolating one group from another. I want to find a way to use the space to facilitate a larger conversation in ubiquitous and interesting ways.

Luckily, I had visits scheduled that week with Christie Blizard and Mark Menjivar, both of whom confirmed that the reality of a CAM Perennial as a community-based exhibition wasn’t such a far cry from my imagination.

During lunch, Christie and I (pictured above) pored over her laptop as she explained her recent work and artistic trajectory. Christie is a trained painter making complex work, but what struck me most is her decision to voluntarily relinquish much of her own agency as an artist. She makes her work and allows for variables through which she yields a certain amount of artistic control. The work has its own life, and once the immediate decision to complicate the creation process is defined, the work can live apart from her artistic decisions. Thus, she has little control of the final outcome of her own paintings and many of her decisions are left to chance.

I was also able to meet with photographer Mark Menjivar that same weekend. Mark has been working on a long-term project called The Luck Archive, a simple example that there are universal and unifying beliefs across cultures. Mark showed me the collection of personal objects and their accompanying stories, all telling the tale of luck in people’s personal lives and given in exchange for a small-edition print of a four-leaf clover. The entire project is being turned into a book slated for publication this year, but what’s even more remarkable is that the archive could not exist without the goodwill and generosity of near (and not so near) strangers.

Mark and Christie were exactly the artists I needed to find. They are both using similar ideological methodologies to explore their relationships with their medium out in the world. It was for these reasons that I chose to work with Mark and Christie.

This year’s CAM Perennial is more dependent on the space and its history, the artists involved and the audiences converging within all these factors. This exhibition is beyond my executive curatorial decisions, thus its title: “Untitled (Public Display).”

Now the work can really begin...

CAM Perennial: Untitled (Public Display)

Free
Opening reception: 6-9pm Fri, Mar 21
Noon-5pm Tue-Sat
Museo Guadalupe
723 S Brazos
(210) 271-3151
Through May 10

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