My name is Francisco Benitez. I am a born and bred Santa Fe artist of Spanish, Native American, and Puerto Rican background, and I am developing an ambitious project which focuses on the colonial power structures and corresponding relationships of our region through a series of large-scale paintings (between 6 and 8, ranging in size between 60 and 100"), drawings (between 4 and 6, ranging in size between 24 and 100"), a series of 20 photographs using a 1939 Kinax camera, a video, and an installation with two full scale human figures (mannequins) with a 40' long printed fabric connecting them.
The project proposal, called Doña Inés Lost Her Slipper, was just accepted by the Santa Fe Community College arts committee, to be presented at the Santa Fe Community College's Visual Arts Gallery, from October 30, 2014, to January 20, 2015.
The idea for the show came when I was visiting my father in Madrid, Spain, last summer before he passed away. I was at the Prado and saw a number of intriguing 18th century aristocratic portraits of women in outrageously flamboyant costumes, and I imagined a visual, fictionalized account of such an aristocrat, transplanted to the New World, with her maidservant. The idea evolved into a narrative about colonialism, identity, race, and all that good stuff, but basically it was about what was going on inside me, and finding an effective way of expressing it.
The exhibition is as much about the maidservant as it is the aristocrat. The maidservant is Native American, and the works in the exhibition will weave a story about her experiences in a colonial household: her coping with a new situation, reaffirming her identity, and eventually striving to emancipate herself in an imagined and/or real way. This exhibition is the record of those thoughts and her struggle. It is also about Doña Inés, the idiosyncratic aristocrat, who spends her days puffing on pipes, as aristocratic women did in those days, and running her household, only to find herself secretly vulnerable and lost in this new world and environment. I intend to deconstruct the aristocrat as much as I plan to reconstruct the maidservant.
Just for a little personal history, my father came to the United States from Spain in the late sixties, and formed a flamenco dance company with my mother, a native New Mexican. As their company became more successful, and they started touring extensively, I spent significant amounts of time with my Chippewa grandmother in Taos, New Mexico, and went for several years to the school on the reservation. A major part of inspiration for this exhibition is my grandmother's story of being sent to a boarding school at the age of 8--her removal from her people's land and separation from her family. After my own experience at Indian School and high school, I studied and lived in Spain and France (my wife is French). After both my father and grandmother passed, I felt a need to develop an exhibition which explored the complexity, challenges, and rewards that come from growing up in a multi-ethnic and cultural household. Having grown up in these various, disparate places, this project in a sense is a way for me to reconcile those identities, and to explore a poignant and fascinating past that unites many of us, who are the children of those first encounters.
I am a full-time artist who has been exhibiting professionally since the age of 20. Although I work with galleries, I have had an itch to broaden the scope of my work, and realize a project that only an alternative space could host. Though primarily a painter, I have been wanting to develop my installation and video work, large-scale drawings, and even photography, to present a multi-layered and nuanced narrative.
The Santa Fe Community College has a very well developed arts program, with many students of various ethnicities and class backgrounds. One of the reasons the proposal was accepted was because of its educational potential for these students and the larger community. For more information on the project please visit my website at www.franciscobenitez.com.
I am elated the project proposal was accepted by the gallery exhibitions committee, but now I am faced with a somewhat herculean project with expenses that are beyond my current reach. I work in a small two-car garage, which has been fine for production of most of my medium-size paintings; but for this show, I need to get a larger space in which to work for at least the four months preceding the show. I will also be using my two models who need to be paid; I will have art materials expenses, transportation costs, and video production costs.
A few project photomontage sketches, and one finished painting:
To view my Blurb catalog on the show proposal, you can visit this page:
Selected Solo Exhibitions:
2012 “Vulnerabilites”, Destiny Allison Fine Art, Santa Fe
2011 “Ut Pictura Poesis”, Nüart Gallery, Santa Fe.
“Ancient Voices Through Modern Eyes II”, Art Center Design College, Albuquerque, NM.
2010 “Ancient Voices Through Modern Eyes”, R&F Gallery, Kingston, NY.
“Encaustiques”, Abbaye de Fontmorigny, France.
2009 “Imago Temporis”, Aci Castello, Italy, curated by Sabina Corsaro.
2008 “Ekfrasi”, Galleria Quadrifoglio, Syracuse, Italy. (held in conjunction with Festival of Ancient Greek Theater
“Dionisiaca”, Capella Bonjauto, Catania, Italy, curated by Sabina Corsaro.
2007 “De Effige Animi”, Studio Barnum, Noto, Sicily.
2006 “Tra mito e storia”, Monastero del Ritiro, Siracusa, Italy (held in conjunction with Festival of Ancient Greek Theater)
2005 “Tempus Temporis”, Art & Industry, Santa Fe, NM.
Selected Group Shows:
2012 “Three From New Mexico”, Chapelle des Pénitents Blancs, Gordes, France.
“The Future of the Past”, Boston Center for the Arts, curated by Barb Cone & Harriette Chenkin.
2011 “Polemically Small”, Garboushian Gallery, Los Angeles, curated by Edward Lucie-Smith.
“New Views of Encaustic Painting”, Keene State College, NH, curated by Peter Roos
2010 "Who Owns Classicism?", Sorafim Gallery, Southwestern University, TX, curated by Edward Lucie-Smith.
“Waxing Poetic”, Hewitt Gallery of Art, New York
“Fahrenheit 180: A Group Encaustic Exhibition”, Ann Street Gallery, Newburgh, NY
“Pollination”, Convention Center Gallery, Santa Fe.
2009 “Figurations II”, Nüart Gallery, Santa Fe.
“Director’s Choice”, Chase Gallery, Boston.
2008 “Women of Baghdad and Prisoners and Deserts”, with Michele Ciacciofera, Chapelle des Pénitants, Gordes, France.
2006 “Migrazioni” (important collective of Mediterranean artists), Siracusa, Italy (catalog).
“La Visione Negata”, L’Arco e la Fonte, Siracusa, Italy (catalog).
1998 “Ida y Vuelta: Twelve New Mexico Artists”, Musée Denys-Puech, Rodez, France, curated by yours truly and Laurence Imbernon.
“MICRO-Exhibition”, Galleri COLON, Borås, Sweden.
1995 “Biennale Méditerranéenne de la Jeune Peinture”, Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain, Nice, France (catalog).
A selection of my work:
Thanks for reading this!
Risks and challenges
I think the main challenges I will face with this project, will be basically to tackle doing very large paintings, which I have wanted to do for a long time, in a period of five months. I am a painter in the realist tradition, and am used to developing paintings over several months, or even years in certain cases. However, I have also been developing a body of large-scale drawings, where I am freer to expand on ideas without the usual constraints of traditional painting. Those drawings serve as a reference for how I will approach this new challenge.
I want to do a video, which is something I have never done, at least for an art exhibition. Although I made amateur videos in college, this time I will need to consult with some experts to learn how to do voice-overs, editing, and sound effects with today's movie editing programs. Although a learning curve will be an initial challenge, I see it as a way to learn a new artistic language for future, even more elaborate installation projects.
I was very moved by an exhibition at Site Santa Fe this past fall, by Enrique Martinez Celaya. He is an installation artist who works with broad, poetic concepts, and doesn't limit himself to one medium. His paintings tell a wonderful story; and at the same time, do not linger obsessively on details or technique. I would like to use his example as a guide to loosen my style in certain ways to make space for a free-flowing narrative. The time limit will force me to rethink my conventional strategies and develop new ones. I see it as a great opportunity to expand and develop as an artist.
Since I have signed a contract with SFCC, I do have to put on a good show, no matter what. I want it to be a killer show though, so I have no choice but to put my best foot forward. All aboard and full steam ahead!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)