TAMARA GONZALES Untitled, An Exhibition of New Paintings

NORTE MAAR, BUSHWICK, BROOKLYN, NY
MARCH 10 – APRIL 29, 2012


A LETTER TO TAMARA GONZALES
FROM SHARON BUTLER


Dear Tamara,

The other day, when I came out of the C-Town at Wyckoff and Dekalb, I saw a woman wearing beige leggings made of polyester lace that featured a big repeating flower pattern, and I thought of your paintings. I’ve seen your work around for a while—in group shows at Janet Kurnatowski and the Dependent Art Fair—and most recently took in your solo show at Norte Maar in Bushwick. As poet Elizabeth Bishop suggested in a letter to James Merrill after reading his 1954 book, Short Stories, perhaps rather than offering any kind of criticism, I should simply say thank you.

Tamara Gonzales. Installation view, L to R: “totter,” 2011, spray paint on canvas, 62 × 50”; “drifting on a sea,” 2011, spray paint on canvas, 62 × 50”. Courtesy Norte Maar.

These paintings are both visually engaging and smart. The luridly colored spray paint conjures the machismo and brio of the best street artists, while the abstract gestures recall Abstract Expressionists like Mark Rothko and Richard Pousette-Dart. When I got home, smitten with your lace imagery, I looked up lacemaking and learned that Flemish peasants originally added it to collars and cuffs to hide the frayed edges of worn-out clothing; eventually royalty began using it to embellish their garments as well. Traditionally made by women, lace has been embedded within stories of politics and trade as intricate patterns have passed from one culture to another. And, of course, in terms of art historical precedent, painters like Peter Paul Rubens, Judith Leyster, Francisco de Goya, and Diego Velázquez all delighted in rendering delicate depictions of exquisite lace. Combining lace imagery with spray paint is brilliant feminine machismo—so amusingly facho!

Tamara, your new paintings are glorious—literally, in that they seem to depict a magnificent, ecstatic glory. They vividly reflect the warmth and fullness that has grown in the Bushwick art community over the last few years. After I saw your show, two quasi-mariachis wearing cowboy hats strolled onto the L train and began belting out a song. The leader played a beat-up acoustic guitar, and the other had a beautiful shiny black accordion with bright decorative inlays and glitter that I know you would have loved. The exuberance of their music, like the vivacity of your paintings, was infectious. What a wonderful day.

Yours,

Sharon

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Sharon L. Butler