Leave Ethnicity Out of It | Letters | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

Leave Ethnicity Out of It 

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I was appalled to read your arts section and find your reviewer making what are, at best, inaccurate and, at worst, racist comments about the art scene in Salt Lake City. I am referring to your preview of Jorge Rojas’ Waxworks at Mestizo Gallery. (In the spirit of full disclosure, I am also a reviewer and covered this show for another publication.)

You begin by characterizing Mestizo as a gallery that hosts “exhibitions of works by ethnic artists who might not get seen in other local galleries.” Continuing on to Rojas at this point leaves hanging the suggestion that he is such an “ethnic artist who might not get seen in other local galleries.”

I object. You may have thought you were exposing a ghetto-like condition in this city, but it’s not true. In the first place, Salt Lake City galleries do not exclude artists based on their personal attributes. In the past year, Jamex and Einar de la Torre mounted a much larger show here than they would receive in Seattle, a center of glass art. Daniel Ochoa and V. Kim Martinez show regularly. None of these shows were at Mestizo, where the first show in the new location features not “ethnic,” but women artists.

Anyone sensitive enough to review art should be sensitive enough to perceive that Mestizo’s interest is in artists with a community-active program, not an “ethnic” one. Jorge Rojas is a perfect example: As an educator and curator, but also as an artist, he draws from local life, including the making of videos of both staged and unstaged events in the cities and towns he visits. There is nothing folkloristic about his art, which is international in scope and conception. I defy anyone to point to an “ethnic” quality in his wax sculptures. Or are we having trouble telling a sculpted wax anatomical figure from a sugar skeleton?

Geoff Wichert

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