2017-18 Yakima Symphony Orchestra Season Artist: Alfredo Arreguín
A Musical Voyage Around the World
I was born in Morelia, Michoacán, México, and moved to Seattle in 1956. My art degrees are both from the University of Washington: BA, 1967 and MFA, 1969. In 1979, I was selected to represent the United States at the 11th International Festival of Painting at Cagnes-sur-Mer, France, where I won the Palm of the People Award. In 1980, I received a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. In 1988, in a competition that involved over 200 portfolios, I won the commission to design the poster for the Centennial Celebration of the State of Washington; the image chosen for the poster was my painting “Washingtonia.” That same year, I was invited to design the White House Easter Egg. In 1994, the Smithsonian Institution acquired my triptych “Sueño (Dream: Eve Before Adam)” for inclusion in the permanent collection of the National Museum of American Art. In 2007, I was invited by the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery to participate in the Portraiture Now: Framing Memory exhibition in Washington, D.C. One of my paintings, “The Return to Aztlán,” was kept in the permanent collection of the Gallery. In January of 2013, the State of Michoacán sponsored an Homage to Alfredo Arreguín that included an exhibition organized by the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo ‘Alfredo Zalce.’ In 2014, I was invited to participate in a collective show, Imagining Deep Time, hosted by the National Academy of Sciences, in Washington, D.C. Finally, in 2014-2015, I had three solo shows in Spain; one at the Palacio del Conde Luna, in the city of León, one at the Museo de América, in Madrid, and the other one at the Museo Provincial de Cádiz, which closed in February 2015.
My overall body of work is organized into several series, beginning with Patterns. The most recognizable of my paintings are perhaps the denominated Jungles, which depict the luscious vegetation, the flora and fauna of the Latin-American rain forest—i.e., the natural world that is in peril because of modern development and the constant encroachment of civilization. These interests connect naturally with my paintings focusing on the Pacific Northwest; with the landscape but also the natural species, some of which, like the salmon, are also threatened by urban sprawl or commercial pressures. In the same vein, my Madonnas allow me to comment on humanitarian, social, and environmental concerns. And they also bridge into another series of paintings, the Icons, which pay homage to a diversity of individuals: artists, writers, historical figures and social activists.
My canvases are tapestries that blend diverse elements from many different sources: the traditional crafts from Mexico; the lush rainforests of my homeland and other parts of the Americas; the landscape and natural life of the Pacific Northwest; Japanese prints; sacred and endangered animals; gods and totemic figures; cultural and historical icons; and motifs that include eyes, masks and ceramic tiles.
The basis for all my compositions is a grid on which I build patterns and superimposed planes. Below the surface of each completed work are many others, transformed by a strategic use of occlusions and erasures. My aim is to produce a lively visual interplay in which images combine with each other to form other pictures that reveal the symbiosis between human beings and nature, fiction, myth and reality, and the natural and supernatural worlds.
“From Here to Eternity,” the image chosen by the Yakima Symphony Orchestra to accompany this year’s theme and program, A Musical Voyage Around the World, is part of my celebration of the Pacific Northwest landscape while also continuing my portrayal of the clash between civilization and Mother nature, between the man-made world, and the natural realm.