Frontera Lake Street
Artists: Salvador Espejo Benitez, Luis Fitch, Alexa Horochowski, Douglas Padilla, Marcela Rodriquez A, and Xavier Tavera
Minnesota Artists Gallery
Frontera Lake Street was presented by Grupo Soap del Corazón (“spanglish” for “soap of the heart”), a group of artist and cultural activists devoted to the promotion of “border” culture in Minnesota. Grupo Soap produces and presents an ongoing series of exhibitions and projects that acknowledge, in particular, the Latinization of Lake Street in Minneapolis, with its mercados, taquerias, tortillerias, Latin record stores, night-clubs, boot shops, and salons.
Each of the “Frontera Six” has a unique history and perspective. From newcomer to second-generation immigrant, they have connections to Mexico, Argentina, and Chile, from tiny rural villages to frontera cities like Tijuana and Juarez, to the international urban center of Mexico City, now the largest city in the world.
Inspired by Mexican pop culture each of the Six invented and assumed the persona of an imaginary professional wrestler. Each wrestler was conceived with a distinct personality, stage name, mask, and costume. The Frontera wrestlers attended the opening of the exhibit; their capes and masks were hung on the gallery wall through-out the exhibit-events that celebrated the “high” and the “low” of art.
The artwork featured in the gallery installation at The Minneapolis Institute of Arts included tiny landscapes painted on corn, rice and other seeds by Salvador Espejo Benitez, depicting scenes of Minnesota on one side and Mexico on the other. Luis Fitch's mixed-media work illustrated the opportunities that have drawn Mexicans to Minnesota, as well as the risks they have taken to cross over. A Central American-style trinket cart by Alexa Horochowski was packed with saleable art miniatures, including hand-painted surrogate wrestling figures of the Frontera artists themselves. Douglas Padilla's intense symbolist paintings referenced the North and the South, connecting the Mississippi River with the desert. Chilean painter Marcela Rodriquez A. was inspired by her Latino students and the landscape of her homeland. Xavier Tavers's large-scale color photographs revealed Latinos as both visible and invisible.