groomed

José Villalobos

In Residence: Feb 5 – Mar 29, 2024

Exhibition: Mar 28 – May 19, 2024


José Villalobos’s multimedia exhibition, groomed, conveys the effects of machismo within Norteño culture. Through sculpture and performance, Villalobos displays a nuanced and proud connection to his heritage, withstanding the historic and violent undercurrents of homophobia that exist within it.  

The central piece in the room is a large, motorized horse walker equipped with a bit and harness that Villalobos wears during his hour long endurance performance, Producto de la Máquina. Blood on the metal mouthpiece from the artist’s resistance to being steered suggests the emotional violence of cultural and societal constructs that can compress identity. The walker’s circular motion is repetitive by design, speaking to an inability to advance forward.  

The floor of the exhibit is covered in soil, binding the space to the earth, and transforming it into a ranch-like environment with livestock tools and other processes. The smell of dirt and hay activates memories of such places. Each step leaves an impression, marking the visitor’s presence. Videos of self-inflicted endurance acts by Villalobos involving ranch instruments play on the walls. Here, he disarms toxic masculinity by enduring it for an audience to witness.  

A circular mirror hangs on the South wall, and suspended in the center is a metallic horse bit. When standing in front of the mirror, visitors are inserted into Villalobos’s narrative, creating a space of empathy or complicity. As friend or silent witness, the audience’s own response will determine where they fit.  

Circular motifs continue to repeat throughout groomed, with images of a shedding comb, the mirror, and the walker. The symbol represents toxic cycles and the detrimental outcomes of relentless, circular thought. Cowhides displayed on the walls are branded with homophobic text and confront the derogatory words and perceptions of homophobia by reclaiming them.  

This exhibit is a continuation of works Villalobos has created in the past, which revolve around masculinity and border culture. Within groomed, there is a nuanced subversion present. Here, the artist is embracing his heritage as much as he is resisting it, allowing history to shape his identity while recognizing its complexity and power. The concept of suffering is a human experience that Villalobos believes all visitors can connect with. Through performance and sculpture, he articulates the violence of homophobia and speaks to the resilience of the human spirit. 

Ada Smith Genitempo, Residencies and Exhibitions Manager

Our Texas-based artist residency has been generously funded by the Mid-America Arts Alliance, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the state arts agencies of Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas

Artist

José Villalobos

El Paso, Texas / San Antonio, Texas, USA

José Villalobos was born in 1988 and grew up on the United States and Mexico border in El Paso, Texas. He received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Texas at San Antonio and was awarded the Artist Lab Fellowship Grant for his work De La Misma Piel at the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center. Villalobos is a recipient of the Joan Mitchell Painters & Sculptors Grant Award and Residency and the Tanne Foundation Award. His work has been exhibited at the McNay Art Museum, San Antonio Museum of Art, NARS Foundation, the Mexic-Arte Museum, El Paso Museum of Art, El Museo de Arte de Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, and most recently at the Phoenix Art Museum for Desert Rider. Villalobos’s work is included in the collection of the Dallas Museum of Art, Mexic-Arte Museum, the City of San Antonio Public Collection, Albright College in Reading, Pennsylvania, and Soho House International in Austin, Texas. José Villalobos is the Artpace Texas artist in residence in the Spring of 2024.

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Curator

Larry Ossei-Mensah

Larry Ossei-Mensah uses art as a forum to redefine how we see ourselves and the world
around us. The Ghanaian-American curator has launched numerous exhibitions and programs
featuring artists such as Firelei Baez, Steve McQueen, Catherine Opie, Nick Cave, Guadalupe
Maravilla, Ebony G. Patterson, Judy Chicago, Stanley Whitney, and many more. As a global
collaborator, Ossei-Mensah has worked with renowned venues around the world such as; The
MCA Denver, Ben Brown Fine Arts in Hong Kong & London, the 7th Athen Biennale in Athens,
Greece, (co-curated with OSMK Social Club), and MASS MoCA (co-curated with Susan Cross
and Allison Janae Hamilton in 2018-2019). He’s been a partner on several Web3-related
projects with creatives such as Derrick Adams x Jay-Z, Marco Brambilla, and Mikael Owunna.

Following his critically acclaimed exhibition in Spring 2022, Ghost of Empires, at Ben Brown
Fine Art in Hong Kong, Ossei-Mensah recently opened his second exhibition in Asia, Sounds of
Blackness, at the Metropolitan Museum of Manila in the Philippines. This is the first group
exhibition featuring an ensemble of all Black visual artists from the African Diaspora in South
East Asia. The exhibition explores how the participating artists utilize their practices as a forum
to articulate a diversity of ideas and perspectives through various mediums and is on view until
June 17th featuring Artists such as; Rashid Johnson, Toyin Ojih Odutola, Vaughn Spann,
Tschabalala Self, and Hank Willis Thomas. Ossei-Mensah has also worked alongside Ghanaian
painter, Amoako Boafo, curating his first museum solo exhibition, Soul of Black Folks, exhibited
at the Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD) in 2021, San Francisco, and the Contemporary
Art Museum Houston in 2022 with upcoming iterations on view summer & fall ‘23 at the Seattle
Art Museum and Denver Art Museum.’


A native of The Bronx, Ossei-Mensah co-founded ARTNOIR, a nonprofit whose mission is to
drive racial equity in the art world by centering creatives, curators, collectors, and communities
of color. Through ARTNOIR, he has worked with brands like UBS, Twitter, Coca-Cola, 1stDibs,
and Mailchimp on projects that were the intersection of art and culture. Ossei-Mensah has been
profiled in publications, including the New York Times, Artsy, WWD, Frieze, Dazed, Robb
Report, The Financial Times, and Cultured Magazine. He has participated in numerous panels
and conversations alongside Art Basel Miami Beach, The Earn Your Leisure Podcast, and The
Fog Art Fair. Formerly the Susanne Feld Hilberry Senior Curator at the Museum of
Contemporary Art (MOCAD), Detroit, Ossei-Mensah currently serves as Curator-at-Large at the
Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM

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