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Carina Alvarado: Inside the Artist’s Studio

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Dream Until Your Dreams Come True:

Carina Alvarado

By Derrick White 

“The most important things art has brought to my life are the abilities to express, communicate, and connect. I am not great with words, especially expressing meaning without getting jumbled. Art is the language in which I feel the most comfortable communicating. I have found a way to express myself freely in a visual way and explain what is in my heart and soul,” explains local artist Carina Alvarado. Her artwork is vibrant and uses graphic and bursting compositions of surreal imagery to captivate one’s imagination. Carina uses a variety of media. “I really enjoy working with acrylics, but I recently tried watercolor and gouache and I have fallen in love with these materials. I enjoy the way they work together. The process of understanding these collaborations really interests me. I tend to use a little of everything in my pieces,” she states.

“When I decided to quit my full-time job and focus on art, it was terrifying. Taking the decision and explaining it to the people around me – to me, felt like the first challenge as an artist. The frustration of feeling like you have to convince people it is what drives you as a person right after you convinced yourself to take the leap towards passion. There is so much behind the scenes in the amount of work, motivation, money – just the whole process of becoming an artist. I understand being an artist is an art form in and of itself, a journey. You can attend classes, you can watch videos, you can ask for advice, but you yourself have to create something. You don’t apply to be an artist. The application is progressing and developing in personally growing in this unpredictable life, in your studio hours, experimenting with media and ideas, putting yourself and what you create out there. This application can go any which way; it can be short or long, but you never really get told you are an artist in this process. You, as the artist, have to keep creating. You have to stay motivated. You have to keep exhibiting your art,” encourages Carina.

Alvarado took painting, drawing, figure drawing, art history, and ceramic classes at TJC.

She recalls, “While attending TJC, I met inspiring art professors. I remember Paul Jones sketching out new characters and ideas. I remember Derrick White being hands-on, teaching us how to stretch canvases. He was always trying out new techniques and painting. I learned what I needed to understand about art in my classes, but I had such inspiring professors to facilitate my creativity and my motivation outside of class. TJC art professors are active, professional artists and they speak about the things you have to do to show your work. They being enthusiastically productive and helping students understand, realistically, about being a visual artist were enough for me to start my journey into visual art.” 

She adds, “In my studio art classes I found my fear of speaking in front of people was very minimal. Being surrounded by art and creative people provided me with so much confidence and provided a beautiful and personal way for me to connect to people. Art has made me push myself. I pressed myself to share the art I had been so private about by creating an Instagram and submitting my pieces to events. I stepped out of my comfort zone, meeting Addie Moore (a founder of “etx creatives”), attending events full of people I did not know. I submitted art to juried exhibitions and was accepted to some and rejected by others. I went on a podcast with “etx creatives” and spoke about my art, I was super terrified to speak and to be recorded but the excitement was much greater. Art has made me grow so much as a person, every day I learn something new about myself.” 

Carina finds inspiration in the work of artist Ashley Longshore. “She is a strong, creative, and powerful woman who does not hold back. I admire her fun, colorful, and powerful paintings. Her art represents her so well; she says ‘You are in my brain.’ I respect artists taking me to another place in their minds and worlds,” Carina explains. Alvarado also enjoys Salvador Dali, saying, “My admiration for his dreamlike, symbolic and surreal art made me feel connected to him. I hope one day I can perfect what I see and what I feel in an art form as well.”

“I suppose my style is colorful surrealism, a glance into my extremely vivid lucid dreams. I have always had a very imaginative mind, but every night ever since I can remember I experienced crystal clear dreams. My dreams are other worlds to me, I know it sounds strange. I always remember waking up and writing down all the strangeness I had seen, all the experiences and the things I would learn. Yes, I would learn. I quickly learned how to control my dreams. I have come to accept these strange dreams which have made them even more mesmerizing. This past year, I lost my grandfather and my youngest uncle. One thing which helped me tremendously with the loss of these two great men was something my mom told me had happened. A few weeks before my uncle had tragically passed, my grandpa had told the family to get everyone together and to prepare for a funeral which would have many people attending. He even spoke my uncle’s name and said it was for him, he had dreamed this. A few weeks later my uncle passed away suddenly. He was so loved by many people and many people attended the funeral. Afterward, my grandpa spoke about a little angelic boy visiting and signaling for him to be followed, a few weeks later my grandfather passed away. The day after the funeral there were bees everywhere but they did not sting us. Swarms just landed on plants, walls, and the ground. Later, I researched the symbolism of this event, bees are productive, they stay focused on whatever they are doing and do not get sidetracked. Around this time of the year, I was beginning my huge leap of faith into becoming a full-time artist. So, I decided to dive into my dreams and symbolism of the beautiful and tragic things happening around me.”

Contact at:

 Instagram: @carinaoteroalvarado

 Facebook: Carina.Alvarado

 Email: carinaoalvarado@gmail.com

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Art

Enter the “Every Body Counts” Art Contest

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Bored? How about creating some art and entering the 2020 Art Contest “Every Body Counts,” sponsored by the Tyler Public Library.

The due date for all entries are now due to the Library by April 1st. Mailed entries can be sent to 201 S. College St., Downtown Tyler, TX 75702. Digital entries may be emailed to ataylor@tylertexas.com.

More info can be found at tylerlibrary.com. The library will be closed until April 1st.

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Art

Call for Artists for the Gallery Main Street Spring Exhibit

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The Details: “Open Theme Exhibit” | Submit by March 29 | Opening on April 11 | Ending on June 1

Artists are invited to submit their work for the jurying phase of Gallery Main Street’s spring fine art exhibit.

The deadline for entry is Sunday, March 29th at 12 midnight.

Artists interested in participating should visit DowntownTylerArts.com, where they can find all the information needed, as well as links to the entry service site. The entry process is digital and allows artists to submit up to three pieces, with an entry fee of $20.

The spring exhibit is an open theme to go along with our new open style gallery! This will be the first juried exhibit in the new gallery space inside the Plaza Tower.

Gallery Plaza features a rotating exhibit of original local art. There are two juried exhibits, which means pieces are submitted for review by a jury panel of professional artists. Top-scoring pieces are selected for the exhibit, and the piece with the highest score receives a Best in Show award.

The space provides the artwork to be visible beyond the hours of the Main Street office and by patrons visiting the new first floor retail bays. The Gallery is a valued centerpiece to the beautifully furnished atrium that serves as an inviting gathering spot.

The spring exhibit will host a Reception on April 11th free and open to the public. The exhibit will run through June 1.

Gallery Main Street is a project of the City of Tyler Main Street Department in cooperation with the volunteers of the Downtown Tyler Arts Coalition. Information on Gallery Main Street hours and rules for entering the exhibit jury process can be found at DowntownTylerArts.com or by calling (903)593-6905.

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Ray Sikes: Inside the Artist’s Studio

stretford tyler tx

The Dreamcatcher

By Derrick White

“My experience with art started with Ms. Bobbin. I lived in a small, poor mining town. The school did not have an art program, but in the fifth grade, a roving art teacher was employed to conduct an art class for one hour a week for each grade. I remember being quite excited by this experience. We did soap carvings from large bars of soap. I carved a rabbit. It was great,” remembers local artist Ray Sikes. 

While attending college, Ray Sikes became interested in theatre and scene design. At community college, Sikes took art classes because the teacher was a famous native artist. He later transferred to a university and continued to major in theatre. Afterward, Ray enrolled at Baylor University for a Master’s degree in Theatre in Scene and Lighting Design. After graduating from Baylor, Sikes started teaching set design and lighting at a community college in St. Louis, then moved to Washington D.C. and worked as an assistant to a noted sculptor. Afterward, he ended up in West Virginia where he became Managing Director for an art complex, but resigned and moved to Tyler so he and his wife, Linda, could care for her aging mother.

Ray recalls, “In Tyler, I played golf almost every day for two years. I became very bored. I told Linda I wanted to start taking some art classes. I had always wanted to just draw and paint full time, though I had been painting and drawing some during all my teaching years. I signed up for a life drawing class at the University of Texas at Tyler. Then I took a sculpture class. Karen Powell, the department chair at the time, told me if I were going to keep taking classes I should just earn a degree in painting. I told her I already had two degrees why would I need another, but she convinced me. Since I already had a Bachelors’ degree, it only took me about two years to complete a Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting and drawing.”

During the time Ray was taking classes at UT Tyler, he was asked to start working for the department. Ray was the gallery director for the university’s Meadows Gallery. The Meadows Gallery is located within the R. Don Cowan Fine and Performing Arts Center on the campus of The University of Texas at Tyler and features rotating exhibitions throughout the year. The exhibition schedule includes nationally known guest artists, the Annual International Exhibition, faculty curated shows, Master of Fine Arts degree thesis exhibitions, and an annual student juried exhibition. The Annual International Exhibition is juried by an invited guest artist, historian or critic. The current 35th Annual International Exhibition is on view through March 6th, and was juried by independent curator Leslie Moody Castro. The Meadows Gallery will feature Jessica Sanders’ M.F.A. Thesis Exhibition March 16th-20th with a reception on March 17th. Nora Schreiber’s MFA Thesis Exhibition in the Meadows Gallery will run March 30th-April 3rd with a reception on March 31st.

“After my first few painting and drawing classes at UT Tyler, I realized I wanted to explore my native heritage through art. This started me on a research exploration about native aboriginals. This research led me to see most native arts had a spiritual/social conscience content. It just was not art for art’s sake; it had a societal purpose. I ask myself how this could be portrayed through my art. I came to use native forms like shields, deer skins, beads, and feathers. Plus, after visiting the Denver Art Museum and seeing original ledger paintings, I realized that the native style of painting was very flat and did not follow the western strictures of perspective. I have tried to paint in this way; although, there are times when I forget and revert to the Western canon. It is hard to forget how one was trained.”

“One of my first shields was made from rose bush stalks tied with leather and stretched over with tanned deerskin. I painted the pictures on the shield with red clay from my yard. I then realized I did not want to take the time to find and process natural dyes, so now I paint with acrylic paint on tanned leather. I tried oil paint first, but it tends to bleed into the leather surrounding the object leaving an oil stain.”

“I think calmness is a gift from my art. When I am in my studio and working on some piece, I am in the ‘flow’ much of the time. There was one noted artist who said, ‘When I go into my studio all my friends are there in my mind, then after a while, it is just me, then I leave and my work of making an art piece begins.’ I start to work on a certain piece and when I look up four hours have passed on the clock and I am calm.”

“Waiting so long to do what I really wanted to do – just paint! I think this happened because I listened to a very significant person in my life long ago that pushed their agenda on me and I believed them. I learned much later one needs to ‘follow your bliss’ and to hell with what other people say about what you want to do.” 

“The first one is Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, a 19th-century post-impressionism painter, who recorded many details of the late-19th-century bohemian lifestyle in Paris. Lautrec mastered many visual art forms: printmaking, drawing, painting, caricaturist, and illustrator. Because of his title and disability, he was accepted into many levels of society, but he chose mostly to paint from the lower classes. He especially liked the people of dance halls and brothels. I find his work honest and clearly stated.”

“Fritz Scholder is a native 20th-century artist, who mostly paints natives. His ‘most influential works were post-modern insensibility and somewhat pop art in execution as he sought to deconstruct the mythos of the American native.’ Fritz was a Luiseno native, part of the California Mission culture. I like his work because it pushes the edge of work by natives about natives. Since a lot of my work is about natives on this continent, he gives me inspiration and insight into what I think about what I want to paint.”

 

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