The Sandoval Signpost

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Alvaro Enciso - Sandoval Signpost Featured Artist October 2003The morning of April 6, 2003. I woke up with a searing pain in my upper back that radiated to my chest. Fearing the worst I rushed to the nearest hospital. The emergency room physician saw the portruding handle between my shoulder blades and proceeded to extract a carving knife embedded in my back. The blade had pierced the anterior wall of my heart. The wound may take months, maybe years to heal, scar tissue will form, but eventually I would recover, that was the prognosis. On my way out a nurse said to me, "next time be careful who you go to bed with". This traumatic episode may account in part for the body of work i have created since that fateful morning,

When I was asked to provide a "biography' to acompany my induction into the Signpost Featured Artists web site, I panicked. I have no problem divulging aspects of my life but I worry about the veracity or even the accuracy of the facts. You see, in December of 1998 I slipped on a banana peel(imported from Colombia) and hurt my head. Although with time I recovered most of my functions and fine motor skills, I did lose a significant amount of "data" as the impact with the hard ground injured that part of the brain where memory is stored.

Evidence in my possession shows that at one time or another I was an anthropologist, a cab driver, a combat photographer, a bicycle racer, a burocrat, a film maker, a professor of Latin American literature, a short story writer, a mercenary, a kept man, and lived in Bogota, New York , Saigon, Baltimore, Placitas.

As part of my convalescence I started writing a memoir which at times I have titled, "Living in English", "Emulating the gringos", "Looking for nowhere", etc. The theme of the "outsider" prevails throughout this memoir, so it is probably safe to call myself an "outsider" artist. True outsider artists are not formally trained, and most likely I never took a course in drawing, painting, etc. So far, so good. However, I do not receive "visions" from God dictating me what to create, nor have I been incarcerated (other than a weekend in Miami for vagrancy), or have suffered a recognized mental illness. So in essence I do not fit the definition of ousider artist, but since the label is in vogue, well why not?

The assemblages that I started making this year while my heart healed, are influenced perhaps by popular Latin American culture, and depict to a point my struggles with romantic relationships, my current state of constant lust, my never ending search for that elusive notion of "living happily thereafter", my interest in the sordid and the grotesque, and who knows what else. Trying to define "art" is as futile as trying to to explicate what "culture" really is.

Years ago I attended an opening of a photographic exhibit and was fascinated by words like epistemology, hermeneutics, aesthetic, dialectic, etc that appeared in an artist statement. I was horrified when someone pointed out that it was my own. Nowadays I prefer words like doggie, enchilada, Home Depot.

In one of my short stories, a mid level burocrat whose job is to write meaningless reports, tells his factotum, "when in doubt, convolute". Having serious doubts about what constitutes a meaningful autobiography, I have chosen to convolute and thus evade writing truthfully about myself. As Cervantes said of the picaresque novels with pseudo autobiographical narrators, "Fiction is art, and all art is fictitious. Biography is only the history of living-not that important". Did he really say that?

Regarding the technical details of of my recent pieces, the wood used has been scavenged from construction site dumpsters in Placitas. The metals were found at different sites. I am indebted to Don Eugenio who took time from his cockfighting supplies bussines to teach me the rudiments of color and the basics of carpentry.

Alvaro Enciso
Placitas, New Mexico
October 2003
 

[Editor’s Note: Alvaro and Gene McClain own the Arte Loca Gallery in Bernalillo where you can see examples of Alvaro’s art.]

 

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