about the exhibition
New Works 05.1
San Antonio, TX
March 23–May 08, 2005about the artist
Cruz Ortiz uses print, performance, and video to embrace issues relating to his experience growing up in the bicultural landscape of South Texas. Replacing classical icons with symbols of contemporary pop culture such as taco trucks, canned beans, and an alter ego named Spaztek, Ortiz’s work maintains a tense relationship with consumerism and his heritage. One is never sure whether he is selling an idea, a product, or a revolution.
While much of Ortiz’s work has focused on the idea and efficacy of protests in the post-Civil Rights era, a related strain explores the type of melancholic love sung about in Conjunto, Tejano, and Country music. Through videos and prints Spaztek futilely chases amor just as protestors long to create change. With a methodological approach that often forsakes institutional space for guerilla tactics and public outreach, Ortiz’s work is multi-layered, cross-cultural, and unconventionally charged.
Born in Houston, TX in 1972, Cruz Ortiz lives in San Antonio, TX, where he received his BFA from The University of Texas at San Antonio in 2000. Solo shows include Dallas Center for Contemporary Art, TX (2003) and the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center, San Antonio, TX (2001). Group exhibitions include ev+a, Limerick, Ireland (2005); San Juan Triennial, Puerto Rico (2004); and San Antonio Museum of Art, TX (2001).
about the project
For the installation but still I'd leap in front of a flyin' bullet for you, Cruz Ortiz uses screen prints, videos, performance, and homemade signs in Spaztek’s quest to understand the world and his relationships. The electric colors and quick handcrafted aesthetic opens a conversation with the populist history of “Chicano” art and culture inflected by a postmodern, Punk understanding.
The installation employs the venerable tradition of storytelling while staging a thoroughly contemporary assault on the senses. Gallery walls have been plastered with a series of four-foot wide hand-pulled screen prints offering glimpses of Spaztek’s life. Grainy photos inked in black show Devil Girl, his sassy tormentor/sweetheart with horns, putting on lipstick, hanging out with friends, and tempting with sultry stares. Texts and signs articulate Spaztek’s forlorn nature. Soy un boring lover is spelled in enormous block letters on red paper while necio (rowdy or silly) is sculpted in cardboard.
The story continues with video works projected five feet wide on free-standing red and white billboards. On one, a live web cam streams scenes of devil girls drinking at a local dive bar while the other features the video Spaztek finds his heart burning in the parking lot, a dizzying, six-minute series of quick cuts. The character numbs heartache with tequila, stumbles around in search of his heart, and finally finds it as a burning tire.
Through Spaztek, Ortiz approaches fundamental questions about what we live for—love or the chase, action or effort—all the while exploring what “Chicano” art is in the contemporary moment.
© 2005 Artpace San Antonio
Previous Artpace Exhibitions
Oct 26, 2005 Spanglish: Ricky Armendariz, Rae Culbert, Beto Gonzales, Daniel Guerrero, Ann-Michele Morales, Cruz Ortiz, Luz Maria Sanchez, Gary Sweeney
Jul 11, 2002 2 Tacos 99cents