On Saturday, September 17 at 4 P.M., The Folk Tree presents an Artist’s Talk & Demonstration by Daniel Gonzalez, curator of and participating artist in the exhibition Memoria Grabada - Recorded Memory. This show, on view through September 24, features the graphic work (including books) of three printmakers from different regions of North America - Alec Dempster in Toronto, Canada; Daniel González in Los Angeles; and Sergio Sánchez Santamaría in Mexico City. Together, they seek to preserve and share their personal experiences and varied notions of history through a graphic visual testimonial. During his talk, Gonzalez will address the themes of the work on view, and woodcut and linocut techniques. He will also give a letterpress demonstration.
Alec Dempster is a visual artist and musician who was born in Mexico City and grew up in Toronto, where he received his formal training in art. His style is synonymous with the Son Jarocho folk music of Veracruz. For twelve years, his work has been a combination of research into oral histories, field recordings with elderly musicians, educational games, and professional performances with established Son Jarocho groups. His self-published book, Faces of Son Jarocho, a collection of biographies and linocut portraits of elderly musicians, singers and dancers from Veracruz, has just been released. He has recently returned to Toronto where he now lives and works.
Daniel González grew up in the community of Boyle Heights and began his art training at the age of twelve with muralist George Yepes. Much of his imagery draws from his family's narratives and histories that he has collected from his parents and grandparents living in Teul, Zacatecas. He makes parallels between old stories and current issues such as politics, social inequality and identity. Currently, he has completed a large public art commission for the Los Angeles Metro for the La Cienega Expo Line Station. He currently resides in Los Angeles.
Sergio Sánchez-Santamaría was born in Tlayacapan, Morelos. He attended the School of Fine Art "La Esmeralda" and the National Center for the Arts (INBA) in Mexico. His collaborations include illustrating books for the Seminary of Mexican Culture and the Instituto de Investigaciones Bibliograficas del UNAM. He works in a variety of printmaking techniques, from relief printing to etching. His subject matter addresses historical Mexican themes and contemporary social trends and is inspired by the art of Posada and Leopoldo Mendez. He currently resides in Mexico City.
On Saturday, October 8, from 2 – 6 P.M., The Folk Tree welcomes Dr. Paul Koudounaris, who will be signing his just released book THE EMPIRE OF DEATH: A Cultural History of Ossuaries and Charnel Houses (W.W. Norton). Koudounaris took the 250 full-color and 50 black-and-white photographs and wrote the text for this beautifully bound leather covered publication.
For centuries religious establishments constructed decorated ossuaries and charnel houses from human bone. These unique structures which stand as masterpieces of art have been pushed into the footnotes of history; they were part of a dialogue with death that is now silent.
Dr. Paul Koudounaris completed a PhD in Art History at UCLA in 2004. His interest in the bizarre and suspicious led him to an extraordinary charnel house in the crypt under the Church of Sts Peter and Paul in the Czeck Republic town of Melnik. It was gritty and dirty, but contained an arrangement of bones that reflected both a beauty in artistic principles and an understanding of philosophy and theology. Upon discovering that the local hostel receptionist had no idea of its existence, Dr. Koudounaris set his sights on discovering how many more of these charnel houses might still be standing, eventually visiting, researching, and photographing charnel houses on four continents - plus countless others he found in historic documents, grande dames which had fallen by the wayside of the passing centuries. They are presented in his book, which not only recovers their history, but the history of the religious movement which gave birth to them.
The sites in this brilliantly original study range from the Monastery of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Palermo, where the living would visit mummified or skeletal remains and lovingly dress them, to the Paris catacombs, to elaborate bone-encrusted creations in Austria, Cambodia, the Czech Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Germany, Greece, Italy, Peru, Portugal, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, and elsewhere. Koudounaris photographed and analyzed the role of these remarkable memorials within the cultures that created them, as well as the mythology and folklore that developed around them.
Koudounaris comments, “These sites were intended as statements of hope and beauty, and it was important to me that I find a means through photographs and the writing of history to convey that: these sites represent death only in so far as death itself affirms life.” Given the subject and Koudounaris’ philosophy, it is only fitting that he sign this impressive volume in conjunction with The Folk Tree’s opening for its 28th Annual Day of the Dead Altars & Ephemera exhibition, which runs from 2 – 6 P.M. on the same day.
The Folk Tree is located at 217 South Fair Oaks Avenue, minutes walking distance from the Gold Line’s Del Mar station, and just south of Old Pasadena. Hours are: M-W, 11-6; Th-Sat, 10-6; Sun, 12-5. For more information, call 626/795-8733 or 626/793-4828. www.folktree.com