Friday, June 03, 2011

Know Your Neighborhood Art Space: Cobalt Studio

Know Your Neighborhood Art Space: Cobalt Studio

by Miguel Cortez

Pilsen has a rich history of not only art, murals, activism but also of alternative art spaces. It's the DIY model. Some artists do not wait for commercial galleries to notice them. Instead they find a way to push their art making and art curating to new levels by experimenting and organizing shows in their apartments, garages or inexpensive storefronts. Recently a lot of alternative art spaces have been opening west of Ashland Avenue and one of those is Cobalt Studio which opened after the Pilsen Open Studios in October 2010 by artists Antonio Martinez and Adriana Baltazar. I sat down with the two artists and asked a few questions:

How did Cobalt Studio come about?

Cobalt came about when we got fed up with our confined home studios and set out to split a larger space and we completely lucked out here.  We ‘re a small collective of two but started collaborating with public art projects under the name Cobalt Studio.

How do the shows come about? Is there a philosophy for how you curate shows? Are these all local artists?

We had to get the ball rolling on putting  shows together at first but we actively seek guest curators. Cobalt is a place for opportunity but we also want to keep pushing the bar up for ourselves and for others.  It’s a process and all part of being a ‘project’. Individually we have different curating styles and goals. Adriana themes are stirred up by concepts she is juggling in her own work, mostly reflective of various sociocultural elements. Tony doesn’t need a theme to get going as he simply seeks out fresh faces and new work. Regardless of who is curating we always seek new work, in and out of the neighborhood, often pushing for work made specific to a show.

What kind of media is shown at Cobalt?

We are completely open to all media. For example our current show which features contemporary craft has sculptures made from crocheted metal and speaker wire, video, photography, sound, embroidery, painting, installation and it goes on! Our June show is a series of events ‘on the  verge of domesticity’, curated by Alberto Aguilar and Jorge Lucero. The program is largely performative in media but has many interactive aspects with events like a ‘house party’, a variety of workshops for all ages, discussions, dinners, slide shows and a winning combination of Saturday morning cartoons and a community pancake breakfast.

How has Cobalt been received by the art and local community?

We have warm receptions and people always make a point to let us know how much they enjoy the space and the work we are sharing. We are friends with many of the local artists and community organizers. Our support for each other is mutual and we offer our space when it is available to help whenever we can.

What is the current show about?

Our current show, In Stitches:Smile Now, Cry Later, curated by Adriana is centered around the precariousness of our emotions and the illusions that create them, whether they are self made or imposed by others. The theme was inspired by gang lifestyle with it’s self imposed mantra “smile now, cry later” with accompanying theater masks tattoo.

Cobalt Studio is located at 1950 W. 21st St. You can see more info on their web site

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