Telfair Museums' newest #art912 exhibition is an exciting addition to previous shows using their former upstairs cafe space.
Local artist Adolfo Hernández Alvarado's “Grounded” incorporates influences from a range of visual cultures, including graffiti, calligraphy, low-riding, graphic novels, and Mesoamerican art and symbolism. Alvarado uses a variety of unconventional surfaces in his work like simulated brick panels, plywood, and car doors, which animate the walls in interesting ways.
“We have a list of artists where we try to do three or four studio visits each month,” assistant curator Erin Dunn says about Telfair's #art912 initiative. “We always strive to show different types of mediums in the space and different types of works, so Adolfo's work kind of spoke to us in that way of having elements about it that are really different than what we've shown before, especially with his paintings on car parts and airplane doors and skateboards. We thought this would be a good way to bring new mediums into the space.”
Alvarado was born in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, and later moved to El Paso, Texas, with his family where he grew up. He came to Savannah in 2002 to study motion graphics at SCAD and ended up settling here. He works at Gulfstream and doesn't exhibit often, but many folks have likely seen his work in mural form at various local businesses like Juarez Mexican Restaurant, Southbound Brewing Co. and Treylor Park. His last formal exhibition was in 2012 at The Butcher, and he also participated in last year's live art-making at the A-Town Get Down festival.
Much of the work in the #art912 exhibition was created specifically for the show and demonstrates Alvarado's interest in a variety of styles, especially his love for calligraphic script, which partly comes from the times his mom used to make him draw repetitive shapes on a page when he was younger.
“Just to keep me still and focused, she would make me sit down and draw circles on the page,” says Alvarado. “Sometimes it would be front and back depending on what I did. It was like time out or punishment. It's funny because I thought about doing that with my son now.”
Alvarado says he would get caught up in the intricacies of drawing the repetitive shapes and found he enjoyed it. Eventually that enjoyment grew into his graffiti-styled script that covers a number of his works in “Grounded.”
“It's not specific. I'm not writing sentences or anything,” says Alvarado. “It's almost freeing; I just keep going and going without stopping and thinking about it.”
Alvarado will give an artist talk at 6 p.m. March 29 to discuss his work and some of the milestones and obstacles he's faced throughout his life, including the gangs that plagued some of his earlier years. “Grounded” will be on view through the end of August.