David Andres paints his own vision for what the art world would be like if the sky was as wide as it was high.
The painter has been the curator of the Bernal Gallery for the last 11 years and the instructor of the Gallery Museum Studies class at Pima Community College.
Over the course of 27 years, Andres has traveled throughout Mexico, and his love for the country inspires a lot of themes that arise in his exhibitions.
“We might be separated by borders, but it doesn’t make any difference,” said Andres when discussing the concept of “Separated by Borders.” “These are incredible artists that are living just south of us and haven’t had the opportunity to show here in Tucson.”
“Separated by Borders” is set to show at the beginning of January through the end of March showcasing four artists from Sonora, Mexico.
Andres also hopes to incorporate contemporary artists from Oaxaca, Mexico, at the Bernal Gallery in the near future due to one of his recent expeditions.
“Remember, the Louis Carlos Bernal Gallery is an educational gallery,” he said. “It’s not a sales gallery, and although work sometimes does sell, that is not one of the missions we’re here for. We’re really here to show Latina or Latino and contemporary artists from the Southwest.”
Although he has branched farther out, at least geographically, the mission remains the same: Provide a comfortable space for artists to express in their medium.
“I am trying to make it welcoming to Spanish speakers as well as English speakers, so I am doing my labels in Spanish and a lot of them didactic labelling, to where it tells a story about them,” Andres said.
That way people understand that there is more than one way of interpreting language as well as art.
“Because I am from Mexico from another culture, his intellectual art knowledge is full of surprises,” said Alejandra Platt-Torres, a Mexican photographer who is featured in the CIELO exhibit.
“He is an excellent curator,” she said. “He find the way to know the artists in a personal way, to understand our way to do art. As a director, he treats us in a profound personal way.”
Many of the pieces were inspired by each of the six artists’ interpretations of what CIELO or “sky” means to them. This comes in the form of metallic pieces, paintings and time-lapse photographs that are painted onto a metallic canvas that still showcases them in a way that is familiar to the audience.
Most of the pieces of the CIELO exhibit have been created at least two years out. So, the artists have enough time to produce their works.
For Andres, the CIELO exhibit comes from a place of comfort.
”We live in the Southwest where the sky is huge with over 300 days of sunlight, and solar power should be part of that I think,” Andres said. “But we’re constantly looking up and sometimes especially during the monsoons.
“Tucson monsoons — we have these beautiful clouds that come into the Tucson valley and that has always been inspirational to me because of the beauty that lies within natural surroundings.”
There is also the fact that Andres has never seen an exhibition at Pima that focused purely on the sky.
The next exhibition to feature at the Bernal Gallery is “Sustain Visions,” which centers around five artists that are approaching 80 years old. They have interwoven art as part of their person and now get to showcase a timeline of their works.
“Sustain Visions” is bringing back Jim Wade, a famous artist and former Pima instructor from the ’70s, as part of the lineup.
The incorporation of new digital mediums in the art world doesn’t faze Andres.
“I think technology is just another paintbrush,” he said. “It’s a way of interpreting and reinterpreting common themes and interpreting life as a human being. I embrace it because I think it is just another way of interpreting art existence and pop culture.”
Andres hopes to broadcast the artist’s talks and lectures as a way of reaching Pima students that may not be able to be present during those events. That way, they can still take part in the conversation.
“He has always been really supportive of my work, and I hope I have of his as well,” said William Lesch, artist and photographer also featured in the CIELO exhibit. “I think he is a fantastic artist as well as a fantastic teacher.
“The shows he has been putting on at Bernal Gallery have been some of the best in Tucson,” Lesch continued. “He shows local artists and the themes of the shows have been really great. I always love seeing what combination of different work by different artists he comes up with, and I was thrilled to have the opportunity to do this show.”
Additionally, Andres works to promote and provide opportunities to Pima artists with scholarships. Every spring, a patron provides a $4,000 scholarship for one student to attend the Haystack Mountain School of Arts and Crafts in Deer Isle, Maine.
There is also the opportunity for students to be exhibited and awarded based on their pieces, which is an accumulation of the students’ work throughout the whole year.
“Stick your neck out a little bit and try to get your artwork seen,” Andres said. “Always try to get it seen, no matter what, even if it is in our student gallery here. It is a start.
“You can put that byline in your resume and it shows that you tried to exhibit and whether you sell work or not that shouldn’t be the only objective. The objective should be to represent yourself out there to the public and to make the art as personal as possible.”