Antifaz at Bath House Cultural Center

Bath House Cultural Center
March 17 – April 21, 2012

Mention the word “mask” in the spring of the year, and most people’s imagination conjures up Mardi Gras masks complete with beads, feathers, sequins, and glitter.

Well, not the artists who submitted works to Enrique Fernandez Cervantes’ latest visual soiree at the Bath House Cultural Center.  Oh, he got a few of those – some really great ones too – but he got a whole bunch of other masks, too.

The only rule for submission for the show (“antifaz” is Spanish for mask) was that the mask had to be three dimensional – no flat works.

And wow.  You gotta see this show.

“Many of the artists who submitted work don’t usually work in 3D – and don’t typically have masks as subjects,” Cervantes said. “This show pushed them.”

Typical of Bath House shows, this one features virtually every technique and medium an artist could work in.  Here’s what you’ll see when you visit the show:

  • found object
  • ceramic
  • carved wood
  • low fire clay
  • burlap
  • masking tape
  • papier mache
  • aluminum
  • rusty iron
  • feathers
  • plaster-impregnated bandages
  • fur
  • steel
  • acrylic paint
  • pearls
  • ribbon
  • glass
  • canvas
  • leather
  • rice paper
  • silver
  • copper
  • deadwood
  • video
  • baling wire
  • mosaic
  • wool
  • gloves (!)
  • raku

There are humorous masks, straightforward masks, tongue-in-cheek masks, statement masks, pretty masks, stylized masks, beautiful masks, large masks, small masks, and some, well…  “Some of the masks, while not really ominous, are definitely creepy,” Cervantes opined.

It’s impossible to distill over fifty works of art into a couple representative works, so let me instead show you a range of the types of styles and materials you’ll see when you visit.

Zapotec 2012
Alfredo Calderon
Low fire clay

This piece and a companion piece, both by Alfredo Calderon, are among the largest and most beautiful “realistic” masks in the show.  His technique is highly developed, both in sculpting and in the lovingly applied decorative painting work.  Both are stunning pieces.

Illusion – Disillusion / To Be or Not to Be
Susan Lecky
Acrylic, canvas, wood, leather

Susan Lecky’s gorgeous stylized mask created with painted canvas stretched into this kite shape is another large, impactful piece.  There is a wonderful American Indian meets rich Asian silk esthetic emanating from the mask.  The construction and presentation are flawless.

Aluminum Annunaki
John Green

One of my favorites is this metal mask reminiscent of WW1-era gas masks, but stylized to an elemental state.  “The submission photograph had the artist wearing the mask with the Dallas skyline behind him,” explained Enrique.  Artists who work in metals fascinate me – and Green’s work is so cleanly executed this piece looks like it was mass-produced.

The submission guidelines Cervantes came up with certainly stoked the imagination of all the artists.  In addition to these three examples, artists created masks of a small burlap and masking tape ball with a faded face painted on it, a papier mache tiger, a fish with a human face, tribal masks, a fused glass mask, a yellow aluminum devil, and Zeus with a beard made of bicycle chain.  One of the creepiest is “Inner Beauty” - a full life-size earthenware bust with a wonderfully disfigured toothy mask by artist Denise Greenwood Loveless.

There is a “community of artists” feel at the Bath House that can only be earned over time.  Cervantes has created this community again with “Antifaz,” on view through April 21.