Arturo Artorez – Pocketbook Sketches. Opening Thursday, April 13, 2017 6-9pm

| April 13, 2017



This is a collection of 94 original ballpoint pen, ink and graphite drawings that Arturo Artorez has done in a small pocket notebook from 2000 – present.

Arturo was featured on Nancy Guppy’s Artzone in 2014:


Arturo Artorez

Pocketbook Sketches


This is a collection of 94 original ballpoint pen, ink and graphite drawings that Arturo Artorez has done in a small pocket notebook from 2000 – present.


Arturo Artorez (b. 1940), was born and raised in Mexico City, where he also received his formal education. Time and chance put him in Israel in the summer of 1967, at the exact moment when the Six-Day War erupted on June 5, a combat in which he was forced to participate. After such a horrifying and fortunately brief experience, Artorez was put aboard a ship and sent to America, landing first in San Diego, California and then in Tijuana, Baja California. After spending nearly a month there, he returned to Mexico City where he immediately became involved in the student movement and the popular protest that resulted in the fateful Night of Tlatelolco—the massacre on October 2, 1968, when the Mexican army encircled protesters in the Plaza of the Three Cultures and proceeded to kill some 300 persons, according to official estimates, and arrested 1,300 others with Artorez among them.


Dodging death in an almost fantastic if not miraculous fashion, Artorez left Mexico along with some of the other activists when President Salvador Allende offered them asylum and sent two Chilean Air Force planes to transport them. Arturo left for Ecuador almost immediately only to experience the military coup that deposed president Velasco Ibarra and ushered General Rodriguez Lara into power in February of 1972. Once again, the artist escaped the chaos that followed the coup and after some remarkable adventures, returned to Mexico City. Four years later in 1976 he moved to Seattle, where he has lived ever since.


By the time he arrived in Seattle, Artorez was already an accomplished artist. His works had been exhibited in Canada, Chile, Cuba, Ecuador, France, The United States, Mexico and Peru – at times alongside masters such as Cuevas, Tamayo, Toledo and Guayasamín. His acknowledgments included an honorable mention at the Sixth “Paris Biennial of Young Painters,” and art critics in Mexico and elsewhere augured him an auspicious future, “A career that promises to be brilliant,” wrote one of them at a given point.


In 1988, the same vicissitudes that many artists often face in their struggle to survive while also continuing to practice their craft compelled Artorez to take a job as a security guard at the Seattle Art Museum. To relieve boredom, he began to create ink and pencil drawings on time cards that the museum used to record the employees’ working hours. He also used other “recyclable” materials such as discarded artwork labels, lottery tickets, and in this series, he uses a small pocket notebook.


The images in Pocketbook Sketches often show mysterious beings and settings—a mental escape from boredom and oppressive drudgery the artist-turned-security-guard must endure day after day. The transformation of a utilitarian object into an aesthetic entity becomes and act of liberation, even if only fleetingly. In his consistently figurative style, he depicts a number of beings that inhabit a surreal, almost phantasmagoric realm. On an immediate level we recognize this world as Seattle’s Capitol Hill, but it can easily translate into any other urban setting the U.S. or elsewhere


A good deal of irony permeates Arturo’s visual commentaries. These poignant statements also allude to the existential condition of the painter himself. Thus, his life experiences and current circumstance become beautifully conjugated with his artistic subjects.


(Portions Excerpted from the catalog, “Time and Chance” by Lauro Flores, University of Washington.)




Category: Art

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