April 2020

Gallery Corner

by Randy Limbird

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Two new galleries buck trend of disappearing art venues


n recent years we’ve written about the declining number of art galleries in El Paso, so it’s exciting to see new ones opening up.
  Two new art venues in El Paso are Flor de Barro at 6721 Westwind and Galeria Lincoln at 3915 Rosa. One recent afternoon I decided to scout them out. Both are located in one-time residences, and both take a little effort to find. And coincidentally, they happen to be alphabetical neighbors in our monthly “Southwest Art Scene” listings. Yet they represent very different genres.
  I missed Flor de Barro as I was driving on Westwind and had to double back to find it, since there’s only a small sign on what looks like just another home on one of the West Side’s older upscale neighborhoods. But when I stepped inside I was blown away by the museum-quality presentation of some of the finest Mexican pottery to be found in the Southwest.
  The one-time home has been totally redone with scintillating white walls and tiled floors that allow the exquisitely crafted pottery to grab your full attention. Most of the work is from the northern Chihuahuan artisan community of Mata Ortiz, home of potter Juan Quezada, famed for his reinterpretation of Casa Grandes ceramic design.
  Back in the 1970s, anthropologist Spence MacCallum discovered Quezada’s work in a store in Deming, N.M., and was so intrigued by the pottery that he tracked down the artist in his poor village at the end of a dirt road near Casas Grandes, Chihuahua. MacCallum helped create a market for Quezada’s work among art collectors, which in turn led to the entire village of Mata Ortiz becoming a center of fine art pottery, with dozens and dozens of artists following in Quezada’s footsteps.
  Flor de Barro gallery director Andrea Calleros explained that her parents, who had been art collectors for years, only recently discovered for themselves the marvels of Mata Ortiz pottery. They began collecting and then one year ago decided to open the gallery on Westwind. The gallery showcases works by Juan Quezada himself, as well as several other leading Mata Ortiz artists. There’s also a room dedicated to the fascinating, intricate art of Jesus Guerrero Santos.
  My other stop that afternoon was in an entirely different neighborhood in south-central El Paso. You’ll probably want to use your GPS to find Galeria Lincoln on Rosa Avenue, a section of town near the Spaghetti Bowl where various industrial businesses abut old homes. The gallery is owned by operated by local contemporary artists Tino Ortega and Diego “Robot” Martinez.
  The gallery was closed when I stopped by, but you can get a good feel for their art by going to their Facebook page (look for “915GaleriaLincoln”). You can also check out another new venture, Old Sheepdog Brewery, just across the street.
  Galeria Lincoln was scheduled to be one of the dozen venues participating April 25-26 during the first weekend of the annual El Paso Artists Studio Tour, which has been postponed. Among the others scheduled to participate is what is now El Paso senior gallery, the Hal Marcus Gallery, 1308 N. Oregon, which this month is showcasing its “Dead Artists Society Exhibit.” The exhibit features over 100 works by premier El Paso artists now deceased, including Tom Lea, Jose Cisneros, Manuel Acosta, Eugene Thurston and Bill Rakocy, among many others.
  Another casualty of the coronavirus crisis was the 4th annual show by El Paso Sketchers Exhibit, which was to be on display through April 30 at the El Paso Public Library Westside Branch, 125 Belvidere. As of this writing, all public libraries were closed until further notice. Hopefully the libraries will reopen in time to enjoy this exhibit.

— Randy Limbird


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