Gallery Spotlight: Salt Lake City
A Welcome Mix
The Westside's Mestizo Coffeehouse and Galley
by Sheryl Gillilan | photos by Gerry Johnson
The Mestizo Coffeehouse is back in town this time with a cultural agenda that mirrors its name, a Spanish word meaning "mixed." Being built on the corner of North Temple and 600 West in the Citifront complex, the Mestizo hopes to becomes a cultural gathering place for people of all ages to enjoy art of all kinds visual, film, literary, and music.
The grand opening will be held from 6 10 pm on Friday, June 20, and will include a program of art, music, speakers and food. Mestizo is also hosting an unrelated open house from noon 2 pm on Saturday, June 7th for neighbors to celebrate the City's agreement not to build a highway viaduct on 600 West and their renewed support of the Salt Lake City master plan for the Westside.
Mestizo Coffeehouse is the brainchild of husband and wife team Terry Hurst and Ruby Chacón.|3| Chacón, an artist, and Hurst, a writer, filmmaker, and jack of all trades, first opened a coffeehouse under the name Mestizo in 2002 at Artspace's Bridge Project. It only lasted six months before closing its doors because it was "more driven by passion than by calculation," Hurst laughs. This time, however, people from the Westside community approached Hurst and Chacón and asked them to spearhead a move to open a place to celebrate the arts and also serve as a cultural center for wWestside residents. Some community entrepreneurs believed in the concept enough to ante up money to become silent partners in the enterprise.
The coffeehouse portion of Mestizo will serve sandwiches, soups, pastries and drinks, as well as some Hispanic specialties. It will also have wireless access for those who wish to sit with their computers while enjoying a tres leches cake. Hurst notes that their coffeehouse will be the only one on the Westside that isn't a drive-thru, as well as the first site on that side of town to host an art gallery.
The art gallery portion of the coffeehouse is under the auspices of the non-profit Mestizo Institute of Culture and Arts (MICA). Chacón and Hurst want to showcase artists of international and national fame, as well as local artists, in the space adjacent to the coffeehouse. Chacón says: "Our mission is to strengthen and build communities through art while advancing the discussion of Chicana/o, Latina/o, Indigenous, cross-cultural experiences and those who live in the borderlands (physically, spiritually, or psychologically). As a result of our own experiences in accessing public art spaces, we are an inclusive organization and wish to provide space to all, especially those who in the past have been excluded from other public forums."
The first show at Mestizo will feature local artist David Maestas.|5| He has been friends with Chacón for years and says he admires her longtime commitment to the community. "Ruby is a special person, and I'm honored that she invited me to show my work as part of the first Mestizo exhibit. I created six new pieces especially for this show that illustrate for me what 'mestizo' means: two cultures coming together, and I want to celebrate them both."
There's also a broader reason Maestas is pleased to be a part of Mestizo. He wants young Hispanics to know there are opportunities for them to make a career in art or to strive for job opportunities beyond the stereotypical janitors and waiters. "My culture motivates my work," he says, "and I want to be able to give back to my culture."
Maestas says his inspiration and passion for art come from a nostalgic and spiritual connection to the Southwest. "I was born in the town of Chama, New Mexico, and my earliest memories of childhood were sown within this small, rural community."
Maestas credits both the University of Utah and the College of Eastern Utah for honing his technical and intellectual skills, and says his recent paintings explore his passion for abstract expressionism. "The concept of painting raw emotion rather than illusion inspires me. I'm always searching for different ways to interpret and capture the world." He also says, "Through the use of themes and subject matter that relate to my Hispanic and Native American roots, I strive to create a spiritual atmosphere within my paintings that reflects my love and appreciation for my place of origin -- Northern New Mexico."
The gallery will also feature Texas painter Gaspar Enriquez, who is known for his airbrushed, ultra-realistic imagery that portrays the people of El Paso's barrios.|6| Enriquez says of himself and his work: "One is born a Mexican American, but one chooses to be a Chicano. My work reflects a politically charged lifestyle that passes from one generation to the nextel Pachuco, el Tirilón y el Cholosurviving poverty, wars, prisons and internal strife. The men and women who populate my paintings reflect the paradoxes that arise in the barriopride in place and language, a search for self-esteem and meaning in a landscape of poverty, and the fragility that comes with learning too much about life too soon."
Chacón |4| will also have some studio space at Mestizo and will function as the artist-in-residence. She hopes to be able to shut the door and get some work done, but also wants to share her works in progress with Mestizo customers. Her past studio spaces have long been available for various informal groups to gather and talk, and she would like to continue this tradition by offering the adjoining MICA space for them. It's important to her that people feel free to use Mestizo as a welcoming space for debate, discussion, and study of various art forms.
Hurst and Chacón want their teenage son, Orion, to fit into the mix as well. A student at West High, Orion has studied music extensively and would like to organize some open mic sessions on the weekends at the coffeehouse. The logistics are still in flux, but Chacón wants to encourage local students to help manage the music scene.
||Alder's Accounts: In Memoriam
Angelo Caravaglia 1925 - 2008
Few sculptors have left their mark on the visual landscape of Utah to the same degree as Angelo Caravaglia, a long-time University of Utah professor who passed away early last month. Thousands of us pass by his work everyday; if shown an image of one, many Utahns would immediately be able to identify its location if not its author.
Angelo Caravaglia was born in Erie, Pennsylvania in 1925 and started sculpting at an early age when he began carving soap with his pocketknife. After his service in the U.S. Army during World War II, Caravaglia received a scholarship to study at Cranbrook Academy of Fine Arts, in Michigan. He then received a Fulbright Grant/Scholarship at the Academy of Fine Arts in Rome, Italy. Throughout his career, he would continue to receive awards and returned frequently to Italy to study. He won a Dr. Francis Onorati award to study bronze casting in Italy and a Maxwell Gallery grant to work in Florence.
Caravaglia came west in 1956. Alvin Gittens had just become chair of the University of Utah's art department. As historian E. Jane Connell tells it, Gittens immediately set to work modernizing the department and hired Caravaglia as an attempt to break "[Avard T.]Fairbank's arch-conservative stronghold on the sculpture department." 1 Caravaglia joined fellow Cranbook alumnus V. Douglas Snow in bringing the developments of mid-century modernism to Utah.
Caravaglia was a versatile artist who could work with all manner of three-dimensional materials (wood, bronze, stone, wire, terra cotta, found objects). He was equally adept in two-dimensions. He was the recipient of a Tiffany Grant for graphics and worked throughout his career in pencil, charcoal, pastel, oil and watercolor. When he first came to the University of Utah he was listed as a printmaker. In 1960 he was elected the first president of the newly formed Utah Designer Craftsmen, though he chose to forego the position until his return from a year sabbatical in Italy. In 1963 his job title at the University was changed to "three-dimensional designer," a rather roundabout way of identifying the artistic expression he would be best known for: sculpture.
Caravaglia eventually became Professor and Chairman of the Department of Sculpture, and influenced a whole generation of sculptors in nearly forty years of teaching. "He always affirmed me," says Ralph Tretheway, who studied with Caravaglia in the eary seventies, "and that did more for my advancement as a sculpor than the expert critiques and technical training. . . He inspired me then and still does, as a sculptor for over 30 years. He was not lengthy in speech, but carried an aura of competence; you knew he was a great sculptor and could tell when he saw great work from you, and were compelled to achieve it."
Caravaglia's legacy as a teacher in Utah is matched by his visual legacy, visible in public buildings across the state. Those in Sanpete Valley will know his "Iccarus and Pegasus" at Snow College.|0| In Dixie you'll find his hand-carved mahogany historical panels at Southern Utah University |1| and "Jacob Hamlin on a Horse" in St. George. Next time you ride to the top of the escalator at the North Salt Lake County building, take a look at that ram made out of nails.|2| That's one of his.
Though his work changed over the years, from highly stylized modernist forms to more traditional sculpting and carving, the figure was always at the center of Caravaglia's work. The cast stone fountain at the US Federal Building, |3| done in 1965 and commissioned under the Art-In-Architecture Program, though highly abstracted maintains a figurative base.
Bob Olpin talked about Caravaglia's work in terms of "stylized realism," as opposed to the wildlife and Western art of many Utah sculptors. Though he certainly stood apart from the genre, Caravaglia could also embrace the iconic forms of the West. His "Mountain Man" at the Springville Museum of Art |4| was one of the artist's personal favorites.
Caravaglia retired from the University of Utah in 1991, and during the next few years he received a flurry of public commissions including "Star Maker" (in collaboration with Nolan Johnson) at the SUU campus in 1994;|5| "Four Dancing Figures" at Salt Lake Community College's Redwood campus |6| and "Two Figures in Time" at UVSC, in 1996. |7|
Caravaglia eventually moved to Glendale Arizona, where he lived with his sister. He passed away in May 6 and is survived by five siblings and three children.