Art Talk with Giovanni Valderas: Conspicuous Craft

One of the issues growing cities have to face is displacement. Gentrification is a word that some consider to be tossed around too easily when discussing Denton affairs, but it's a topic that's personal to Oak Cliff based artist Giovanni Valderas. He earned both his BFA and MFA in drawing and painting from the University of North Texas. His art work currently on display at the Murchison Performing Arts Center and Brick Haus Collective is reflective of his latino-americano background and the rapid changes that affected South Dallas in recent years.  

Conspicuous Craft is actually a collection from Valderas' Forged Utopia series. They are meant to mimic real estate signs, and the aesthetic is defined by piñata design. They all include words of Mexican slang. The outdoor installation at Brick Haus has since deteriorated over time. How the elements are invited to rip apart his work is indicative of social environment forcing changes to anything that is built up. 

A pondering of his artwork invites the viewer to consider the effects of a city's growth. Valderas says, "People want to come out to a vibrant city that has a thriving culture scene, and employ artists." Having a vibrant city with creative arts, diverse foods, and community events does encourage people to go hang out. Valderas previously served on the Cultural Affairs Commission as an arts advisor to Dallas City Council. It was his goal to bolster the arts community to make neighborhoods a more attractive place to be immersed in.

His primary goals included providing artist grants, and allowing artists to pitch their own ideas for projects on behalf of the city. Here in Denton we've seen the power of how GDAC's micro-grant can give local artists an opportunity to put together expressive shows. 

However, rapid progress can sometimes displace certain individuals. Cities bear a brutal responsibility to factor in cultural identity while improving socioeconomic standards. Valderas says, "I think it’s important to engage the local community and empower them."  This has been his personal approach with supporting the arts scene.

Conspicuous Craft as presented by Greater Denton Arts Council and Brick Haus Arts Collective will continue to be viewable until December 4th. His paintings are currently on display at the Murchison while an outdoor installation resides at Brick Haus. If you're heading to the next Super Bowl in Houston, you are likely to see an enormously scaled version of "Ay Te Miro" on the side of a building downtown. Keep up with Valderas by visiting his portfolio. 

Photos by Mateo Granados
Header image design by Jason Lee