By: Emma Comery Photos by: Carlos Israel Villarreal
While the rest of us navigated the transition from our 9-5 office day to working from home, many Corpus Christi artists have been reveling in the long spans of uninterrupted creative time resulting from the county’s Stay at Home order. Carlos Villareal, a cinematographer and photographer for Produce Goods, and Mayra Zamora, the painter behind countless local murals and a prominent figure in the art scene, are two such artists who have found a small COVID-19 silver lining.
Friends and peers for nearly a decade, Villareal and Zamora are also the co-founders of the Coastal Bend’s first Latinx art collective.
In September of 2019, the pair met for tacos (at Taqueria Alameda, of course) and came up with an idea for a Latinx artist collective that would highlight fine artists and provide a platform for exposure and promotion. They named it Colectivo. “The plan is to make this more about being Latino than being from Corpus,” Villareal explains. “We really want to take our show to galleries in the Valley, in Austin, Houston …” They want to offer their artists a broad stage to showcase their art, and even broader network connections.
Colectivo’s mission may be bigger than Corpus, but it starts here.
After a Founders’ Show at Produce Goods during the 2019 Dia De Los Muertos festival to introduce Colectivo, the pair invited eight fine artists from Corpus’ Latinx community, each representing a different medium, to join the collective. “They didn’t need to have a degree, but they needed to have experience … to be established instead of emerging,” explains Zamora. “These are professionals, the best who are out there doing something in the community.”
And the lineup is nothing short of spectacular: Eugene Soliz (mixed media), Maclovio Cantu (printmaking), Ashley Thomas (drawing), Alex Chapa (ceramics), Jacqueline Negreros (sculpture), Aaron Ybarra (graphic design), and the founders, Villareal (photography), and Zamora (painting).
Colectivo is structured so that each season, the artists will approach a common theme through their individual medium to create a collaborative project. For their first season, they selected the theme of “borders.” Intentionally nonspecific, the theme encourages artists to bring their unique perspective to the project.
“The critical thing,” Zamora adds, “is that when young artists are trying to find who they are as individuals, they can see that they are represented in our culture. Artists from other backgrounds might see what we’re doing and think, ‘Why can’t I do that for my culture?’”
At the same time that Colectivo aims to lift up both established and budding artists, it also strives to cause a ripple in the community. “Art unites people,” Zamora says matter-of-factly. “It’s a conversation starter. And I can’t wait to see what conversations Colectivo’s projects start.”
Colectivo was in the midst of planning its inaugural tour when coronavirus stopped us all in our tracks. Nonetheless, the artists continue to collaborate, create, and share their work with the community. And when we can finally shed the isolation of social distancing and come together in person once again, we can all enjoy experiencing Colectivo’s mixed media showcase on borders with a new perspective.
Photo Caption: Archival Pigment Prints 33×44 inches from “The Fruits”