Dear Tempe, Love Tucson / by Lex Gjurasic

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If you are in mailing a letter in Tempe anytime you can check out my installation in the group exhibition Retro Reaction II. Other artists included are Adam E. Mendelsohn, George Penaloza and Kristin Bauer. Each of us installed work in a window of the post office which orginally was a chic department store.

Retro Reaction II runs January 25-May 29, 2019

Mill Ave Post Office is located at 500 South Mill Ave.

Thank you City of Tempe, Michelle, Anthony, Ron and Tricky!

Along with photos from the installation I’m including answers to questions posed by Tempe specifically for the exhibtion to give insight in to myself, my influences and my work.

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Modern Ziggurat,  mixed media sculpture including quartz crystal points and pulverized minerals, 2018

Modern Ziggurat, mixed media sculpture including quartz crystal points and pulverized minerals, 2018

Name 3 specific artists that have influenced you and why. 

Three artist that have inspired this work are as follows. Lynda Benglis excites me as an artist and thus inspires my own work. I admire how she moves seamlessly between mediums in unexpected ways. Specifically Benglis' more recent wall hanging paper sculptures which are embellished with glitter btoh  surprise and delight me while  still feeling familial. Painter  Sally Michel's color palette of her dynamic landscape paintings decribes a relationship with land I don't see represented by other artists as joyfully. Michel's ablity to drop into abstraction with ease without losing the land’s defining essence is tenacity I see reflected in  my own paintings and sculptures. Fearless Eva Hesse's use of unconventional and experimental materials in her sculptures are like a love letter to not just me as an artist but a woman while reminds me to stay true to my artistic vision even if it doesn’t always make sense. 

Name of 3 specific artworks that have influenced you and why.

 My sculpture Modern Ziggurat is directly inspired by Louise Bourgeois' sculpture Lair. While my sculpture mirrors Lair's shape and form Modern Ziggurat's colors make it queerer and therefore less solemn.  By embellishing Modern Ziggurat with crystal and pulverized minerals it allows the sculpture to be reflective of the essential elements found in the desert landscape. Modern Ziggurat may stand tall like a mountain but it is a dwelling, a place of spiritual presence. You can  also find the influence of Bourgeois'  more moundy, mammalian sculptures such as Cumul I in the cloud form in my installation. The monumental pieces of  folk art Salvation Mountain near Joshua Tree inspires my own work with it's  viberant, energetic and direct hand to the art feel of the creative process which cares little for perfection. I enjoy that Salvation Mountain is one with the landscape and not a separate entity that is so precious and delicate and must only be appreciated in the sealed, dust free, safe space of a gallery. Salvation Mountain is allowed to be free and alive! Werner Herzog's haunting documentary film Cave of Forgotten Dreams  explores the crystal coated caves of Chauvet, France in a way that is more art and less science. By experiencing the film we explore a realm of the internal as well as humanity's interaction with the earth over tens of thousands of years which then enlightens us to what it is to be a human in the modern age. 

Name 3 non-visual art influences or experiences that have inspired you. 

The act of rock hunting in the desert influences not just my studio work but my dreams at night. Seeking is my only repeatative dream I have. In my dreams I am constantly looking for and finding treasures. It is this conscious and unconscious act that I bring to the studio as part of my process. My experience in 2001 traveling on the  Zapatista carvan which traveled from Chiapas to Mexico City to advocate forthe rights of all indiginous people in Mexico has heavily influence my perspective as an artist as well as how I live as citizen of the world. The caravan experience gave me a depth of knowledge of what it means to be an artist whom lives and works in the borderland. My dear friend of over 20 years Jake Shears' self titled solo album which was inspired by living in New Orleans a city which I have roots in and a very emotional connection with as a Katrina survivor, has become the soundtrack in my studio over the past year. Throughout our  friendship I have been given insight into the process of the making of the album over the past year and it’s joy of life energy has infused into my work.

Wish List. If you could go behind the scenes of some of the local museums for this project- what would be your dream to find?

Without a doubt I would love to dive deep into the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe, it's my personal Mecca. To play within The Girard collection of global cultural treasures that have be so lovingly amassed and diplayed in such a unique way would be beyond thrilling. I'd also love to commune with living artifacts of the Heard Museum in hopes of gaining greater insight into the ancestors of the land we now call Arizona.