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GENE MC CLAIN

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DAVID W. CRAMER

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LAURA ROBBINS

SUSAN GUTT

EVEY JONES

GARY W. PRIESTER

GENE McCLAIN

DAWN WILSON-ENOCH

LINDA HEATH

MARY CARTER

LISA CHERNOFF
 
JON WILLIAM LOPEZ

SARA LEE D'ALESSANDRO

RUDI KLIMPERT

DIANNA SHOMAKER

BUNNY BOWEN

ED GOODMAN

GARY SANCHEZ

MARILYN AND HERB DILLARD

GERALDINE BRUSSEL

SAMANTHA McCUE ECKERT

SHARON SCHWARTZMANN

JIM FISH

C.E. FRAPPIER

TONY PARANÁ-RODRIGUES


For more great local art, visit
Placitas Artists.com

Sandoval Signpost Fatured Artist Gallery


Tony Paraná-Rodrigues
Photo by Bill Diven

Signpost featured artist of the month
Artist Paraná-Rodrigues envisions cultural center in Bernalillo

—BILL DIVEN

—Ben Forgey
On a recent late summer evening in Llanito, the Brazilian artist Tony Paraná-Rodrigues prepared the famous Brazilian dish feijoada while listening to his muses Bob Marley and Miles Davis and speaking about his own life and work. Feijoada is a hearty black-bean, sausage and pig's-knuckle soup with African and European origins—Brazilian soul food. Tony spread the ingredients on the counter, appraising them in their raw state almost as if they were colors on a palette. Slices of moon-white tripe and bright orange peppers from the garden were added to the dark purple stew. Tony sniffed from jars of spices he knew only by smell, not by the English labels. He added pinches of those too, and the thickening aroma conjured memories of Brazil and thoughts about art in Bernalillo.

“I like to paint boats. My dad had a boat, a very old boat. He was always working on that boat—always. And when he goes fishing, he never gets fish, never! He always gets back home saying, 'Where are the fish?' 'I didn't get any. Well, I got a few, but I gave them to the poor people.’”

Tony is from the coastal city of Bahia. His father is an electrician and his mother is a teacher. Being part of the Brazilian middle class means that the family has one car and his mother has to ride two buses for over an hour to get to her school—crowded buses, both ways. All around is a backdrop of struggle. He is very conscious of being from a third-world country where, “if you want something you got to really fight for it.”

In the US, it's been anything but a struggle. Though he drew henna tattoos for a living in Bahia, he did not consider himself an artist. Within seven months of coming here with his wife, Angel (originally from Bernalillo), Tony put together a sell-out show at the Arte Loca Gallery. Co-owner Alvaro Enciso, described Tony's art as "refreshing". "Tony is self taught," he said, "an outsider both to the art world and to the US, so he gives us color and vibrancy, he gives us Brazil.”

A bit later, he joined the Albuquerque drum group Concepto Tambor, which went on to win the citywide Battle of the Bands. He learned to speak Spanish and English simultaneously while working at the Range Café, where his wife was a manager. His handsomeness and winning personality draw people to him and open doors. When Angel got a job producing the show Trato Hecho (a Spanish language Let's Make a Deal show) for Univision in Los Angeles, Tony went along and got a job as the cue-card holder, and in a hilariously “Hollywood” story, he became the only person on the set that the host of the show would talk to.

A year in Los Angeles was enough for Angel and Tony and they moved back to be with her parents, Julie McGaharan and Brian Lang, in their restored adobe in Llanito. Something in Bernalillo again stirred Tony's creative urge. He celebrated their return by putting together an epic garden-wall mosaic for Julie and Brian. With shards of broken Fiesta ware from the Range, he began by making portraits of each of his American family.

Currently Tony has been making a more public mosaic in the main entryway of the Range Café.Two large, colorful lizards brighten the drab stucco of the south wall, while a desert landscape enlivens the walls surrounding the door. Curious patrons and fellow Range employees stop to chat with Tony as he sits amid a multitude of bowls filled with the cheery Fiesta chips. A few have brought their own broken plates to add to the mosaic.

But Tony has found that he has returned to a much different art scene in Bernalillo than the one he left. The Arte Loca gallery is gone, as is the Katrina Lasko Gallery and Siete Nombres. The Bernalillo Arts Trail hasn't been put on since 2004. “Right now, nobody is doing anything. There are no galleries and there are so many artists.” He called together a meeting of some of his friends and other artists to talk about what to do. Perhaps out of his sense of such great opportunity in America, he would like to instigate a movement here. Tony's group has met several times and is working to propose some sort of cultural center for Bernalillo along the lines of the South Broadway Cultural Center in Albuquerque.

“You know when a bunch of artists get together, only great ideas come out. We need a place to show every month, a place maybe to teach classes. It would be beneficial to the artists. It would be beneficial to the town, to the whole community. It's like we have a salad and we just have to find the cucumber. That one place, that one guy, or that government support to pull it all together.”

The next meeting for area artists or anyone interested in developing a cultural center in Bernalillo will be on Monday, October 2, at 7:00 p.m., at Textures, in Bernalillo. For directions and further details, call Teresa Muñiz at 238-8290.

To view Tony’s Web site, visit: www.tonyparana.com.





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    All images ©TONY PARANÁ-RODRIGUES. All rights reserved. Images appear by permission of the artist and may not be downloaded or reproduced on any manner without the express written permission of the artist.

     

 

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