A RESIDENT OF CORPUS CHRISTI, BLUNTZER WAS BORN IN VENEZUELA- HER SUCCESSFUL ART CAREER HAS SPANNED THE UNITED STATES FROM THE EAST COAST TO THE SOUTHWEST
Chispa Bluntzer is no stranger to solo exhibitions. At 84 she stands 5 feet tall with a slender frame and perfectly coiffed white hair, yet she is all presence. Chispa, which means “Spark” in Spanish, has had a total of 11 important solo exhibits. During the month of September her colorful abstract landscapes and three dimensional altar pieces will grace the walls of the Art Center’s main gallery. “It has been a decade since I was asked to produce such a large body of work for a solo show” says Chispa. For this exhibit she has produced over 30 original works that are sure to captivate art patrons due to the uniqueness of her style, including three large altars that will be a feast for the eyes.
When asked about her influences, Chispa says “My figurative work is all about story-telling. The triptych altar pieces I create are derived from myths, lives of women martyrs, and other concepts I find interesting. The stories have been embroidered and changed to deliver a new message, and color is always a prominent element in the work.”
Born in Venezuela into a large extended family comprised of many aunts, uncles and cousins “I was surrounded by people who more than anything loved to tell stories” says Chispa. The stories she heard growing-up told the tales of family exploits, ghosts, benevolent spirits, saints, and devils. She continues “We lived in a natural environment full of lush, tropical flora and fauna, densely forested mountains, and villages where native religious traditions were observed. This visual influence has played a huge part in the way I express myself visually.”
As her children grew more independent, she returned to the study of art, first taking workshops with distinguished water colorists- Ed Whitney of Massachusetts and Milford Zornes of California. The latter placed an important emphasis on design, which influenced Chispa’s work. Formally, she received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Texas A&M Corpus Christi; and continued graduate studies at the prestigious New York University.
One of her altar pieces is part of the Art Museum of South Texas growing collection. She is also in private & public collections throughout the United States including Sumaur Oil, the Corpus Christi Museum of Science & History, Corpus Christi Cathedral, and Landmark Condominiums to name a few.
Part of her career has been spent as a mentor to young artists and as an art professor and instructor of watercolor workshops in campuses and classrooms in France, Venezuela, and the United States.
About My Two Worlds, Chispa says “This show is rooted in my Latin American background, its stories, and my religious experiences. It is also about my wonderful life in Texas where I have enjoyed a strong connection to nature.” Chispa’s solo show opens to the public Saturday, September 10, 2016 at 4:30 PM with a gallery talk. A wine reception with the artist will follow from 5:00 to 7:00 PM. The exhibit continues through Saturday, October 8.
IN THE GARDEN GALLERY: THE BOTANICAL WORKS OF LOTUS MCELFISH HONORS ANCIENT AZTEC WISDOM AND TRADITION OF HEALING HERBS
Lotus McElfish is a life-long, self-taught artist and a certified aroma therapist. A few years ago she became a botanical artist. In 2005 a grant from the American Society of Botanical Artists started her on a marvelous journey of documenting rare and endangered plants, and today she continues to engage people with her art.
The Department of the Interior Museum, Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum, South Texas Botanical Gardens, and the Naples Museum of Art have exhibited McElfish’s paintings. Her work was recently juried into a published book, American Botanical Paintings: Native Plants of the Mid-Atlantic, along with an exhibition of accepted paintings at the US Botanic Gardens in Washington, D.C. McElfish was a Rockport Center for the Arts Merit Artist in 2014, and currently has two paintings showing in the traveling exhibition, Rare II: Imperiled Plants of Colorado.
Lotus McElfish one-person show in the garden gallery is titled Hierbas Curativas- Healing Herbs of the Mexican Curanderismo Tradition. The show runs con-currently with the main gallery exhibit from September 10 through October 8.
McElfish chose twelve herbs from the Mexican Curandero (native healer) and Partera (mid-wife) traditions for this series with the help of a curandero, Don Jacinto Madigral. After she heard a presentation given by Madrigal and his colleague and translator, Dr. Elizabeth de la Portilla, author of They All want Magic: Curanderas and Folk Healing on the sacred traditions, she knew that she would do respectful botanical paintings of the herbs. Through research, she discovered botánicas (folk medicine stores) and curanderismo. She then viewed a copy of a rare 1552 Badianus Manuscript containing ancient Aztec artwork of herbs, and learned that for hundreds of years, indigenous healing wisdom has been passed on. McElfish’s exhibit - Hierbas Curativas honors that tradition.
McElfish currently lives in Spring Branch, Texas with her husband, artist Victor Summers.