Benito Huerta: September Song
William Campbell Contemporary Art
September 7 through October 12, 2013
September Song, an exhibition of new work by Benito Huerta, will be on display September 7 through October 12, 2013, at William Campbell Contemporary Art. An opening reception will be held on Fall Gallery Night, Saturday, September 7, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. The show will feature new and recent paintings, drawings, and mixed media pieces, all focusing on contemporary social themes and informed by popular culture.
A visual response to the musical composition sharing its name, September Song incorporates motifs prevalent in the Zeitgeist, the media, and the entertainment industry, such as politics, terrorism, and the violent end of the world.
Oh, the days dwindle down to a precious few, September, November
I’d let the old Earth make a couple of whirls,
while I plied her with tears in lieu of pearls
And these few precious days I’ll spend with you.
The Kurt Weill/Maxwell Anderson tune, popularized in the 1940s, served as the score to Huerta’s latest body of work. These dynamic yet wistful scenes reflect on the modern fear of destruction via wayward technology and warfare, while also examining the strange, inherent beauty found in its midst.
Intermezzo elegantly captures this juxtaposition of destruction from beauty and beauty from destruction. The drawing’s initial impression is one of gloom: the bomb explodes through the space, a tragic emblem of modern history and an ongoing fear in today’s unstable political climate. And while the image is dire, Huerta has honed in on its aesthetic irony. The powerful burst of smoke appears almost placid as it is frozen in time, resembling a tree springing forth from the earth, or even a brain hovering over the unsuspecting horizon. The soft lines and shades become tactile and inviting in their preobliteration ruse.
Through a complex layering of imagery and text, Shock & Awe portrays beauty and
splendor as inextricably linked with destruction. As he frequently does, Huerta gives a nod to art history here, appropriating figures from Paul Gauguin’s nineteenth-century painting Spirit of the Dead Watching, which personifies humanity and death as it fuses the physical world with the afterlife. In Huerta’s scene, literal and metaphoric death lurks behind, around, and inside life-as an ignited bomb, as a dark figure skulking in the background, and even as a simple tattoo. The digital numerals along the bottom of theplane recall Cold War-era design, while also serving as a reminder of the proliferation of technology and its capability for mass destruction.
September Song combines historical markers with contemporary culture in rich layers of visual narrative. To that end, Huerta utilizes familiar imagery and text to examine the paradoxical relationship between worldly beauty and its degeneration. In all his work, the artist aspires “to be in a position to translate the customs, the ideas, the appearance of my epoch, according to my own estimation…to create a living art.” Taken from Gustave Courbet’s 1855 Realist Manifesto, this passage illuminates Huerta’s penchant for realism, which, in his words, materializes as “utilizing imagery in a diverse array of visual expression.” In this vein, consistently thoughtful subject matter and accessible imagery make Huerta’s work a visual conduit for contemporary issues, recording present history while also engaging a broad variety of viewers.
About the Artist
Widely noted throughout the Texas art community and beyond, Benito Huerta has a long and varied career exhibiting work around the state and across the country. Regionally, his work has appeared in dozens of one-person and group shows, including venues in Arlington, Austin, Dallas, El Paso, Fort Worth, Galveston, Houston, and San Antonio, among others. In 2005, the Art Museum of South Texas in Corpus Christi organized a thirteen-year survey and catalogue of his work titled Soundings: Benito Huerta, 1992-2005. The show traveled to the El Paso Museum of Art in 2007. Nationally, Huerta has shown work in Chicago (at the National Museum of Mexican Art); Denver; Kansas City, Missouri; Little Rock; Philadelphia; San Francisco; Washington, D.C.; and New York City; among many others. In 1994, the University Museum at Arizona State University in Tempe mounted Benito Huerta: Preserve, Negate, Transcend, a twelve-year survey of his work. Huerta’s art has been exhibited internationally as well, in Mexico, Germany, Japan, and Paraguay.
Huerta takes a special interest in his community, and has participated in various public art projects. This past spring, he brought to fruition Fort Worth’s Marine Creek Park Corridor Master Plan. From 2004 to 2008, he served as lead artist of the Fort Worth Parks Enhancement Project, and from 2002 to 2007, he designed Snake Path, an 8′ x 800′ walkway at the Mexican-American Cultural Center in Austin. From 2002 to 2005, Huerta was commissioned to design Wings, two skylink platforms at DFW Airport’s International Terminal. In addition to these, in 2001, he was part of a contingent of artists from Arlington and its German sister city, Bad Königshofen, who created international peace monuments in both Gene Allen Park and Germany.
Huerta serves as professor of art at the University of Texas at Arlington, where he is also the director and curator of The Gallery at UTA. He was co-founder, executive director, and now board director emeritus of the Texas-based contemporary art journal ArtLies. He has sat on the Exhibition Advisory Panel of the Fort Worth Community Arts Center, the Visual Arts Panel of the Texas Commission on the Arts, the Exhibition Advisory Committee of the College Art Association in New York, and has served on the boards of the Arlington Museum of Art, the Dallas Visual Art Center, and Diverse Works in Houston, among others.
Huerta has won various awards, including the 2008 Maestro Tejano Award from the Latino Cultural Center in Dallas and the Dallas Center for Contemporary Art’s 2002 Artist Legend of the Year Award. His work can be found in museum collections nationwide, at the Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art, Menil Collection, and Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the DePaul University Museum in Chicago; the El Paso Museum of Art; and the Library of Congress. Corporate collections featuring Huerta’s work include American Airlines, AT&T, IBM, and Microsoft, to name a few.
Benito Huerta received his BFA from the University of Houston and his MA from New Mexico State University.
William Campbell Contemporary Art
Founded in 1974 by William and Pam Campbell, William Campbell Contemporary Art exhibits high-quality contemporary art in a variety of media, including paintings, works on paper, mixed-media constructions, photography, prints, ceramics, and sculpture. By exhibiting nationally recognized artists, along with new and emerging talent, the gallery aims to nurture an awareness and appreciation of the exciting diversity found in contemporary art.