Studio: Project Artaud, #101, 499 Alabama, San Francisco, CA 94110
Salvadoran-born Victor Cartagena has been making art in the Bay Area since the late 80s. The work that Cartagena produced in the early to mid-1990’s battled with memories of the violence in El Salvador and the pain and separation that he experienced in relocating to the U.S. During this time, he was a member of Tamoanchán, a collective of Latin American printmakers working out of KALA Institute in Berkeley, sponsored by the California Arts Council (1990-1996). Cartagena’s work in the late 90s moved beyond solely articulating the immigrant experience. In his work his has dealt with consumer culture, homelessness, the culture of violence, and material waste. His artistic palette has also branched out to include sculpture, audio and video installation and performance art work. The 1998 series “Mirando al Sur” presented at MACLA, Center for Latino Arts in San Jose, and its continuation “Anatomical Memories” presented at Ampersand International Arts in 1999, were a major transition from the personal to the universal. This body of work led to the “Sin Casa” exhibit at Intersection for the Arts in the summer of 1999 that examined the multiple notions of home and homelessness.
In 2001 Cartagena tackled the issue of the death penalty and the media in a joint exhibit at Ampersand International Arts (works on paper & canvas) and Intersection for the Arts (installation with video, sound, sculpture & collage) entitled “Capital Culture/Media Punishment.” In 2002 he participated in the “Espíritu Sin Fronteras” exhibit at the Oakland Museum with an installation/altar “Homenaje a Roque Dalton, poeta Salvadoreño," an installation that led to a series of transformative installations, including the recent “Tatuajes de la Memoria,” completed in 2011. Cartagena’s participation in the Home Visit project at MACLA with internationally known installation artist Pepón Osorio in 2000 and MACLA’s “Generation/Relation” exhibit in 1994 where Cartagena was introduced to the local art scene as “an artist to watch” by Enrique Chagoya, were significant early recognitions. In 2002 and 2004, Cartagena dealt with the themes of exile, identity, perception and the use of power, presenting his work in Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco. Following a series of small scale performance projects, Cartagena ventured into the world of set-design, receiving critical acclaim for his set-design for Greg Sarris’ Mission Indians, a Campo Santo/Intersection for the Arts production and for his visual design for Shadowlight’s Seven Visions of Encarnación, script by Octavio Solis, directed by Larry Reed. He has collaborated with choroeographer Erika Chong Shuch and actor/playwright Sean San Jose on Campo Santo’s production of “Domino” and created the visual design for the piece “No Olvidado,” presented at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts gardens with the Grupo Jornalero, Roberto Varea. Cartagena is a founding member of the group SECOS Y MOJADOS (with Violeta Luna, David Molina, Antigone Trimis and Roberto Varea). Part I of the Secos y Mojados Border Triptych, “Enterrada,” was presented as a work-in-progress at the Emisferica Institute in Buenos Aires and Cordoba, Argentina, CALARTS, Valencia, California and Arizona University in 2007-08 and the premiere of “Enterrada” was presented at Mission Cultural Center in 2009 with support by the Zellerbach Foundation and Creative Capital Fund. Part II and III of the Border Triptych are currently in development with support by the Creative Capital Fund, the Creative Work Fund and the Wattis Foundation. Part II will be presented in the fall of 2011 at MACLA in conjunction with an installation exhibit and digital mural presentation.
2005 is marked by a series of solo exhibitions and installations that are a direct response to our time: “Anatomy of La Mentira: Red Noses,” at Ampersand International Arts; “Con los Ojos Vendados” (blindfolded) at TinT Gallery in Thessaloniki, Greece and at Art L.A, Los Angeles; “Perpetual Motion,” a collaborative project with Liz Oppenheimer exploring the issue of immigration at Intersection for the Arts, San Francisco; the video installation “Laughing and Crying” at Photo New York and a set installation for Campo Santo’s “Domino” at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. In 2006 Cartagena participated in a group show at TinT Gallery in Thessaloniki, Greece (International Photo Exhibit/February 2006), presented a solo exhibition at Stephen Cohen Gallery, Los Angeles and presented “Culture of Violence: Bang! Bang! Toy Gun,” a large-scale exhibition that included painting, mixed media and installation at MACLA in San Jose, California. “Anatomy of la Mentira” was presented with the addition of a new series of paintings and a new installation project at TinT Gallery, Greece in 2007. “Invisible Nation/Nación Invisible” a multidisciplinary exhibition incorporating fragments of previous installations and soundscapes and a new installation created with 5,000 teabags was presented at San Francisco’s Galeria de la Raza in March 2008, along with a digital mural and the installation “Transparencias” was included in the “Homage and Remembrance “ exhibition at Sonoma Valley Musuem. “Bang! Bang! Toy Gun” opened at PanAmerican ArtProjects in April 2008 and “Con los Ojos Vendados” and “Caritas de Azucar” were presented at MCCLA, San Francisco (W)here is Art?) (2009). “Transparencies/RayosX” was also presented at the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design in “Personal Culture: New Art from Latin Americans” (2009). “Poemas Clandestinos” was included in “Banned & Recovered” at the African American Library and Museum, Oakland and the accompanying traveling show throughout California (2009-2011), a large-scale print installation at “Prints Byte” at SOMARTS (2010), and two-dimensional work was featured at the 45th Anniversary of Intersection for the Arts and 45th Anniversary of Galeria de la Raza (2010). A large-scale photo-based installation, “Tatuajes de la Memoria” was presented in the “Breathed. . .Unsaid” at SOMARTS (2011)
In the San Francisco-Bay Area, Cartagena has exhibited at Southern Exposure, Palo Alto Cultural Center, the University Art Museum at UC Berkeley, Galeria de la Raza, New Langton Arts, Ampersand International Arts, Intersection for the Arts, Catharine Clark Gallery, Euphrat Museum, the Mission Cultural Center, MACLA/Center for Latino Arts, the African American Library and Museum in Oakland, the Oakland Museum of California, the Sonoma Museum of Visual Arts, the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art, University of San Francisco Law Library, among others. Cartagena’s work has been reviewed in Art Nexus, art.es, Artweek, Art Issues, emisferica, The San Francisco Chronicle, the San Francisco Examiner, San Francisco Bay Guardian, San Francisco Weekly, The San Jose Mercury News, The Oakland Tribune, Cambio and El Latino, Hoy (L.A.), as well as by the international press. Cartagena has been featured on KQED’s SPARK series, Tania Waisberg and Facundo Lujan’s documentary “Portrait of Artists as Ltino Immigrants,” and a series of Inside City Limits portraits, among others. Nationally, Cartagena has exhibited in Chicago, New York, Milwaukee, Kansas City, Phoenix, Philadelphia, Miami, Honolulu, and all over California, including Santa Monica and Los Angeles. Internationally, Cartagena has exhibited or presented his work in Argentina, Belarus, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, France, Greece, Japan, Mexico, Portugal, and Spain.
Currently an instructor at Creativity Explored and founder of the printmaking department, Cartagena has reinvigorated an interest in printmaking amongst Creativity Explored artists and collectors and has curated several exhibitions for CE. Cartagena has served as Artist-in-Residence at Southern Exposure, Zeum, SF Art Commission’s WritersCorps, the Ruth Asawa School of the Arts HS, and has served on the roster of Leap, Imagination in Learning and Young Audiences of the Bay Area. He has given numerous workshops, including two Family Sundays and the Matches Program at SFMOMA, and presented his collaboration with Log Cabin youth at the CO-LAB exhibit at SF State University’s Fine Art Gallery in spring of 2002. Cartagena was on the faculty of Arrowsmith Academy from 1998 to 2006, where he taught Printmaking, Mixed Media, Experimental Video and Sculpture. The work of his students has been exhibited at SFMOMA’s window galleries and Horizons Unlimited. For the past three years Cartagena has led a series of printmaking workshops for the Bravo! Project at Principal Leadership Institute, UC Berkeley inspiring future education leaders. Cartagena has given numerous lectures about his work at places such as, UC Berkeley Museum, UC Berkeley University, San Francisco State University, California College of Arts, SF Art Institute, Intersection for the Arts, the Ruth Asawa School of the Arts H.S., Concultura and Museo MARTE, El Salvador, among others.
Cartagena was awarded the Creative Work Fund with MACLA in 2010, a San Francisco Cultural Equity grant in 2005 and the “Visions from the New California” grant award in 2004, sponsored by a seven-member California Artist residency program consortium and pursued a month-long residency at 18th Street Arts Complex in Santa Monica in July 2004. In 2004 he received a grant from the Peter S. Reed Foundation in support of the development of his work and was nominated for the Joan Mitchell Award. He was a joint recipient of a Rockefeller grant with Octavio Solis and Larry Reed for Shadowlight’s production of The Seven Visions of Encarnación produced at the Brava Theater Center in November 2002 and a number of grants mentioned above with the Secos y Mojados performance collective. Cartagena received a Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation 2001 Visual Arts Purchase Award, the competitive Art Council award in the year 2000 (currently known as ARTADIA), and 1996 and 2000 Pacific Prints awards. Cartagena was also nominated for the Eureka Fellowship/Fleishhacker Foundation in 1998, 2002 & 2005-07, the 2006, 2004 & 2002 IN/SITE (formerly SECA) Art Award, the Diebenkorn Teaching Fellowship from the SFAI 2000 and the 2003 Adeline Kent Award. Cartagena’s work is in numerous private and institutional collections, including the Honolulu Academy of Arts, Honolulu, Hawaii; The Contemporary Art Museum, Honolulu, Hawaii; the Mexican Museum in San Francisco, CA; the Collection of Egnatia Odos, Thessaloniki, Greece and the Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art in Thessaloniki, Greece. Victor Cartagena collaborates with TinT Gallery in Greece and Cara y Cabezas in Kansas City, USA.