Spindly roots created in pen intertwine and grow fat until they create a thick trunk upon which is cradled a young girls face. The branches of the tree extend up and around her countenance enveloping her from her chin to the bun that sits neatly atop her head. There's a bright green beetle hanging out by her left temple but what draws you in are her eyes. They're glazed over and widened, the girl stares out at you with a look of mystified madness. All this is done in watercolor and titled “Born Again”. It is one of ten pieces that form a solo show by Ft. Worth native Michelle Cortez Gonzales at Artes de la Rosa Gallery. Titled “Penetration: Impressions of a Memory” each piece in the show has a distinct feel. The watercolor portraits are particularly engaging because of the mastery with which the artist depicts the emotion of each subject. Each is unequivocally clear at first glance as if the figures were standing right in front of you, feeling things in real time. Along with her stunning watercolors the artist includes mixed media works and paintings on canvas. One piece is a solid wooden circle painted with gradations of yellow from dark to light as the eye moves outward. A single black crack is painted on and strikes a particular irony with the title, “Perfection”. The largest piece in the show features tendril like forms that stretch across the canvas and seem to glow. Their shape is repeated throughout the exhibition and they even appear as sculpture in a few of the works. In this piece titled “Divine Dishonor” they are transparent but they stretch over most of the canvas, seeming gooey and viscous. The lone figure is set against a colorful, abstracted background and the expression is expertly portrayed and immediately recognizable: shame. In her artist statement Cortez Gonzales explains, “Religion played a huge part in my upbringing and involved a mixture of cultural and religious beliefs...My work relates to the personal struggles of those beliefs. They penetrate my thoughts and spread like roots, deeply impacting my faith, my view of the world and of myself.” This exhibition is open from May 2 to May 30.
May 5, 2014