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Rene’ Miville Gallery Article Anthology

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Welcome to the Rene’ Miville Gallery Article Anthology, the place where you’ll find all of the article published on Art Southwest Florida about the Rene’ Miville Gallery, its exhibitions and the artists it features.

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New work by Simone Eisenbeiss on exhibit at Rene’ Miville Gallery (05-06-16)

Simone New 1Just in time for tonight’s Art Walk, the Rene’ Miville Gallery has installed new work by 16-year-old Swiss artist Simone Eisenbeiss.

Eisenbeiss renders likenesses of foxes and other forest-dwelling creatures in graphite and colored pencils. Her illustrations have been described as enchanting, romantic, endearing, even a little disconcerting.

Simone draws her inspiration from ritual treks she Simone New 2made through the native Swiss forests that she calls home. Her illustrations reflect the unique connection she has forged with the animals she finds during these long meditative walks. By demonstrating the profound and overlooked natural beauty of these creatures, Simone hopes to raise a much-needed awareness of our relationship with nature and the precarious state of many plant and animal species.

A raised consciousness about our symbiotic relationship with our environment is sorely needed According to the Guardian, species around the world are disappearing at almost 1,000 times the natural rate. The planet is losing between 150 and 250 Simone Eisenbeiss 05species every day, and 15% of all mammal species and 11% of all bird species are currently listed as threatened with extinction. While hunting and poaching are responsible for some of this, the greatest threat to plants and animals around the world results for loss of habitat as more and more land is developed for both residential and commercial purposes.

Simone Eisenbeiss 03Coastal habitat is also threatened by sea level rise. Rising seas dramatically increase the odds of damaging floods from storm surges. A Climate Central analysis finds the odds of “century” or worse floods occurring by 2030 are on track to double or more over widespread areas of the U.S. And compounding this risk, scientists expect roughly 2 to 7 more feet of sea level rise this Simone Eisenbeiss 08century, depending upon how much more heat-trapping pollution humanity puts into the sky.

As important as these themes are, Simone’s drawings and illustrations also operate on a metaphysical plane. “There are things out there that we can’t explain, but some of us can feel or acknowledge them,” Eisenbeiss told Rene Miville a few months ago. “I want to show different perspectives of our enslaved and captivated mind. We must open our hearts and free our minds to get to a higher level of life. I know, some of my drawings are very hard to understand – and sometimes even I have no idea what they mean. But deep in my soul I know the answer.”

Simone Eisenbeiss 04Simone’s sophisticated style and rich metaphorical content is astonishingly mature for her age, yet her aspirations are simple to state and understand. “Maybe my drawings will make people feel better or inspire people to just take a minute and think about the meaning.

So whether you have seen Eisenbeiss’ drawings before or have not had the opportunity to visit the Franklin Shops on First in the past few months, this is a worthwhile exhibition that you should not miss. You can view Guardians of the Forest at the Rene’ Miville Gallery in the Franklin Shops, which are located in the 1937 Franklin Hardware Store building at 2200 First Street.

For more information, please telephone 239-333-3130 or email creinhardt@thefranklinshops.com.

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‘Guardians of the Forest’ features ssemblage of enchanting and mystically romantic illustrations (02-17-16)

Simone Eisenbeiss 01On exhibit at the Rene’ Miville Gallery in the Franklin Shops on First in downtown Fort Myers is Guardians of the Forest, an assemblage of enchanting and mystically romantic illustrations by 16-year-old Swiss artist Simone Eisenbeiss.

The artist has been drawing for as long as she can remember, and her graphite and color pencil depictions of foxes and other forest-dwelling creatures evince definitive elements of illustration. But her compositions also contain surrealist references, belying a deeper meaning intended to show there exists more than just our normal and ordinary lives. In her own words, Simone presents to her audience a bridge between fantasy and reality, heaven and Simone Eisenbeiss 04earth.

“There are things out there that we can’t explain, but some of us can feel or acknowledge them,” Eisenbeiss said in a recent interview with gallery owner Rene’ Miville. “I want to show different perspectives of our enslaved and captivated mind. We must open our hearts and free our minds to get to a higher level of life. I know, some of my drawings are very hard to understand – and sometimes even I have no idea what they mean. But deep in my soul I know the answer.”

This is precisely the goal of Surrealism. To demolish the backbone of rational thought, Andre’ Breton and his contemporaries “attempted Simone Eisenbeiss 07to tap into the ‘superior reality’ of the subconscious mind,” points out the New York Museum of Modern Art. Where the original Surrealists used automatism, experimental uses of language and found objects to create art without conscious thought, Simone employs the silence and serenity of the forest to free her mind and stimulate her creativity.

Eisenbeiss expresses a deep and abiding love for the animals she sees and interacts with on her daily forays into the woods that surround her home. “For about a year now, I have had a real fox friend out there in the woods, and I was able to build a true bond with the wild foxes,” she recounted in her interview with Rene’ Miville. Simone Eisenbeiss 08But her portrayals are not merely representational. Instead, they incorporate fantasy and mysticism to draw her viewers into her compositions and hold them there while her marks connect subliminally with their subconscious too.

If her foxes and wolves connote more traditional canine features, it may be because she invests her subjects with the body image of Galgo Español dogs. According to the Galgo Rescue International Network, these Spanish greyhounds “are one of the most persecuted dog breeds in the world today.” Galgos are used to hunt hares in the Spanish countryside. They spend their lives in damp, tiny, dirty holes or windowless shacks deprived of daylight, exercise and affection. Simone Eisenbeiss 09They are typically fed only water and stale bread. At the end of the hunting season, countless are disposed of or abandoned. Galgos who have outlived their usefulness are often hung from trees, shot and dumped into garbage heaps, or thrown alive into deep abandoned wells. The fortunate ones are the dogs whom the hunters, or galgueros, take to one of the country’s few sanctuaries.”

This explains the darkness underlying many of Eisenbeiss’ drawings. “But then, when spying on my lovely fox and following him into the woods, I get to the bright side,” says Simone, who creates and sells Galgo drawings to earn money to help rescue these dogs. “The radiant colors in my pictures express that we all can live in love and Simone Eisenbeiss 02peace.”

While her illustrations flow proximately from her deep connection with both the foxes of her forests and the Spanish greyhounds that tug at her heartstrings, her drawings raise much-needed awareness of the often precarious state of many plant and animal species and our individual and collective relationship with nature.

Simone Eisenbeiss 05“I am a big nature lover,” Simone proclaims.

Simone’s sophisticated style and rich metaphorical content is astonishingly mature for her age, yet her aspirations are simple to state and understand. “Maybe my drawings will make people feel better or inspire people to just take a minute and think about the meaning. You can view Guardians of the Forest at the Rene’ Miville Gallery in the Franklin Simone Eisenbeiss 03Shops, which are located in the 1937 Franklin Hardware Store building at 2200 First Street.

For more information, please telephone 239-333-3130 or email creinhardt@thefranklinshops.com.

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Fashion-forward art of Naples artist Lia Martino on exhibit at Rene’ Miville Gallery beginning November 7 (11-06-14)

lia 21Opening in the Rene’ Miville Gallery during Art Walk in the downtown Fort Myers River District is a new show featuring photography by gallery owner Rene’ Miville and the fashion art of Naples artist Lia Martino.

Over the course of her career, Martino has been a fashion illustrator, photographer, art dealer, gallery owner, art consultant, art instructor, designer, decorator, and print runway and fitness model. For the statuesque Martino, there has always been a close connection between art and fashion. During her early years, she modeled just so she could paint. “I’d show up to a fashion shoot with paint in my hair wondering how long the session would take because I wanted to get back to my studio,” she recalls. The fashion industry didn’t quite know what to make of her.

liaBorn in Moline, Illinois, Lia’s painting and modeling have been lifelong endeavors. Since she was 16, her modeling took her all over the world, affording her the opportunity to study art in Paris and throughout Italy. Since then, Martino has morphed into a devoted and proud mom, astute and ambitious gallery owner and an artist with her finger on the pulse of both the interior design and fashion industries. Her colorful abstracts possess distinctive decorative appeal and her pop art portrays elegant fashion, with or without a model, in the stylish couture she features in her paintings.

lia 4321“Fashion has always had a place in art,” fashion journalist Margot Siegel once noted. And art has oft inspired fashion designers. Dior, for example, would check with an artist friend to see what colors he was using and then incorporate them in his next collection. Halston designed plunge-back dresses inspired by Jackson Pollock’s paint splatters and Issey Miyake once incorporated Roy Lichtenstein’s bold cartoon graphics into a line of women’s business suits. Dutch painter Piet Mondrian inspired the most famous dress of this time. Yves St. Laurent designed the “Mondrian dress” in 1965, which was widely copied.

lia 54321Like Andy Warhol, Martino is prescient when it comes to art. Rather than wait for collectors to happen into her gallery or find her and her artists online or on Facebook, she’s courting her target demographic where they live … or at least where affluent, smart women with impeccable fashion sense are more likely to see and purchase their work. Her art is hanging nationwide in select Chico’s high-end boutiques, and she is working on paintings for Saks Fifth Avenue, as well lia 321as taking commissions for sketching a number of elite international celebrities. She was also the featured artist at last November’s Miami Fashion Launch 2013, a masquerade black carpet event at Multitudes 54 Gallery in Miami featuring runway models trained by the Catwalk Pros, fashion designers, artists, singers, dancers, musicians and performers. Organizers chose Martino’s fashion-forward art to serve as backdrop and set the mood Mezzanine 02for the evening’s festivities.

You can see why Chico’s, Saks, Miami Fashion Launch 2013 and hundreds of the fashion world’s elite want Martino’s art on their walls at the Rene’ Miville Gallery this Friday night. The gallery is located on the mezzanine at The Franklin Shops on First in the historic 1937 Streamline Moderne Franklin Hardware Building on the corner of First and Broadway. Art Walk starts at 6:00 and runs until 10:00 p.m.

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Liberation from the shackles of abuse theme of Dan Cronin artworks on view at Rene’ Miville Gallery (09-06-14)

Lewis 4On exhibit now at the Rene Miville Gallery in the downtown Fort Myers River District is new work by Dan Cronin. Consisting of paintings, wood wall hangings and free-standing wood sculptures from his Freedom Series, the theme of Cronin’s work  is liberation from the shackles of abuse. The series is inspired by Dan’s acquaintance with Arts for ACT, which is owned, operated and benefits Abuse Cronin 01Counseling and Treatment, Inc., which serves the victims and survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking in Lee, Hendry and Glades Counties. Cronin has always felt the need for greater empowerment for women.

With two exceptions, Freedom consists of a series of acrylic paintings and wood wall hangings that Cronin 03depict a woman’s torso with shoulders and upper arms thrust upward, signifying victory in much the same way that an athlete raises his or her arms to celebrate a win or a particularly good play. “Triumph has its own signature expression that is immediate, automatic and universal across Cronin 02cultures,” notes David Matsumoto, a professor of psychology at San Francisco State University. “Watch that immediate reaction in the first few seconds after an athlete has won their [event] – no matter what the sport is — and you’ll see this triumph response from athletes all around the world, regardless of culture.” Matsumoto suggests that displays of triumph may have an important role in evolution, perhaps by helping individuals signal status and dominance in early human societies. But women have historically been left out of this equation. Through the art in this series, Freedom with PlywoodCronin seeks to provide women of all countries and cultures with a positive image to replace self-images that are all too often cowed, defeated and submissive.

“Cronin’s new series reflects … strong, confident body studies,” states Jeff McCullers, PhD. “What is so special about these new works is their sense of liberation, even of transcendence. His always energetic use of color here becomes truly joyful, as if these once-bound bodies had been set free to dance in the light for the first time ever.”

Symbolism aside, Cronin’s acrylics are alluring for their color and the tenor and quality of their abstract geometrical shapes. “I love the colors and the free brush Freedom Pixelated 1lines,” notes Paula Westdahl. “The style feels like freedom. They have such an elegant saturated color sense.” Adds Cronin collector Angela T. Drobinski, “I LOVE the images. The gorgeous colors, the combo of grace and bold sensuality and utter femininity of the forms as well … so incredibly beautiful!”

In lieu of color, Cronin’s wall hangings substitute rich wood grains (as in the case of Freedom with Plywood) or intricate assembly and texture (as with Cronin’s triumphant Freedom Pixelated). A free-standing starburst perched atop two tiered pyramids is another popular piece.

Cronin 04Dan Cronin has been painting and sculpting since 1972. He is self- taught and enjoys working in many different mediums. Born in New York, Cronin lived in Estero, Florida from the age of ten to seventeen. He graduated from Cypress Lake High School in 1979, and his art was published extensively between 1978 and 1979 in the literary and arts magazine, Reflections. In addition to New York and Florida, Cronin has resided in New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, California, Puerto Rico and Rome, Italy. He holds a PhD in Theology and Aesthetics from Rome, and he has also taught at the university level in Puerto Rico. Although his life has taken jeff4him in many different directions, doing art work was always been a central part of his focus.

In addition to numerous group shows, Cronin has enjoyed solo exhibitions at Pacific Grove Art Center in Pacific Grove, California (2010, 2008 and 2006); Monterey Museum of Art in Monterey, California (2007); Saiku Gallery in Cambria, California (2007 and 2006); The Phoenix at Nepenthe in Big Sur, California (2005); New Camaldoli Hermitage in Big Sur (2005 and 2001); and in 2003 in Berryville, Virginia.

Occupying the 2,200-square-foot south mezzanine of The jeff3Franklin Shops on First, the Rene’ Miville Gallery offers artists, audience and art professionals a classy, upscale venue where compelling new work can be debuted and acquired. According to owner Rene’ Miville, the gallery seeks to feature emerging artists whose work is likely to one day be included in the permanent collections of museums and private collectors. The Franklin Shops on First is located at 2200 First Street in the downtown Fort Myers River District.

For more information, please telephone  239-333-3130.

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Jeffrey Scott Lewis abstracts express artist’s emotions as he contemplates ‘Empty Nest Syndrome’ (09-06-14)

Lewis 4On exhibit now at the Rene Miville Gallery in the downtown Fort Myers River District is new work by local abstract artist Jeffrey Scott Lewis from his “Empty Nest Syndrome” series. For the last 12 years, Lewis has worked as a single parent to raise three adopted children. As they prepare to move out and on with the next chapter in their lives, Lewis contemplates life as an empty nester.

Lewis 3Empty Nest Syndrome comes from Lewis’ on-going Women’s Work series, which questions gender-based assumptions as it reveals new ways of looking at color, texture and fabric. “[But] it is not the parallel threads that make a fabric strong,” observes Lewis. “It is the over and under, the Lewis 2dodging and burning, the compromises that make it hold together. It is the same with us.”

The artist uses his southern roots as the baseline for his commentaries on society. More than twenty jeff7years spent designing graphics and window displays for national retailers, including Disney, have given the artist a unique perspective on two and three dimensional design, the use of color and text, as well as creating work that appeals to broad audiences. His work is also informed by his real-life experiences raising three children as a single parent.

“My paintings are things…not pictures of things,” Lewis expounds. “Much like a book, they tell stories. Except instead of words, I use the formal elements of design to reveal the narrative content. Like a book, they have to be read, to be studied in order to uncover the storylines that may not be obvious at first glance.”

Lewis Lewis 1reveals that his artistic influences are Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, and Gerhard Richter.  He paints in an abstract style that incorporates text, collage elements and found objects.  He is brave in his use of color and uses it to draw viewers into the work, where they then discover that the work has a message. “Art is too important to just be pretty,” says Lewis. “It needs to say something or to mean something. Art is communication.”

Lewis holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from Full Sail University and a Bachelor of Liberal Studies in Art from Florida Gulf Coast University. Jeffrey was recently featured in 2011 in Florida’s Division of Cultural Affairs new “Culture Builds Florida” campaign and has exhibited at numerous venues throughout Southwest Florida.

jeff1Occupying the 2,200-square-foot south mezzanine of The Franklin Shops on First, the Rene’ Miville Gallery offers artists, audience and art professionals a classy, upscale venue where compelling new work can be debuted and acquired. According to owner Rene’ Miville, the gallery seeks to feature emerging artists whose work is likely to one day be included in the permanent collections of museums and private collectors. The Franklin Shops on First is located at 2200 First Street in the downtown Fort Myers River District. For more information, please telephone  239-333-3130.

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Jeffrey Scott Lewis and Dan Cronin on exhibit beginning September 5 at River District’s Rene’ Miville Gallery (09-04-14)

jeff8Tomorrow night, new work goes on exhibit at the Rene’ Miville Gallery by Jeffrey Scott Lewis and Dan Cronin. The gallery is located on the south mezzanine of The Franklin Shops on First. The opening reception takes place from 6:00 – 10:00 p.m. during Art Walk. Both artists will be in attendance. Titled “Empty Nest Syndrome,” Lewis’ work comes from his on-going Women’s Work series, which questions gender-based assumptions as it reveals new ways of looking at fabric, color and texture. For Lewis, fabric functions as a metaphor for the structure of society, jeff3community and family. Cronin is exhibiting work from his Freedom Series, which is meant to convey liberation from the shackles of abuse. The series is inspired by Dan’s acquaintance with Arts for ACT, which is owned, operated and benefits Abuse Counseling and Treatment, Inc. Cronin has always felt the need for greater empowerment for women.

Occupying the 2,200-square-foot south mezzanine of The Franklin Shops on First, the Rene’ Miville Gallery offers artists, audience and art professionals a classy, upscale venue where compelling new work can be debuted and acquired. According to owner Rene’ Miville, the gallery seeks to feature emerging artists whose work is likely to one day be included in the permanent collections of museums and private collectors. The Franklin Shops on First is located at 2200 First Street in the downtown Fort Myers River District. For more information, please telephone  239-333-3130.

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Two works by Rene Miville part of Miville Gallery’s inaugural exhibition (07-16-14)

Cesar Aguilera 12On July 2, The Miville Gallery opened in downtown Fort Myers. Occupying the 2,200-square-foot south mezzanine, the gallery’s inaugural show features five artists. One of the five whose work is featured is Rene’ Miville himself.

In addition to successfully owning and operating The Franklin Shops on First and founding Miville 05The Miville Gallery, Rene’ is a successful mixed media artist and photographer in his own right. He has exhibited at numerous galleries and museums across the country, including the Museum of Art in Boca Raton, the L.A. County Art Museum and The Ludwig Museum in Cologne, Germany. He created a substantive body of work in the late 1980s and early 1990s using a photographic process that involved splashing and painting developer, stop and fixer onto silver gelatin photo paper. At the Miville 03advent of the digital photography age, his innovative “opposing aesthetic journey” sparked a vigorous curiosity and interest among both museum curators and recognized international collectors and led to a PBS documentary titled “Master Manipulator: Avant Garde Photographer Rene Miville” that was aired extensively in the 1990s and early 2000s. Today, his work can be found in the permanent collections of the Ludwig Museum in Cologne, Germany, the Museum of ART in Boca Raton, the L.A. County Art Museum and the Denver Art Museum.

His experiences as an artist inform his activities as the Viewers 04gallery’s owner, director and curator. “As an artist, I learned that you have to be on the phone making things happen. And that’s also what it takes to run a gallery. In my experience, there isn’t a gallery that makes money that isn’t calling collectors, business people and museums saying, ‘I’ve got this artist you’ve really got to see.’ Or arranging events like private showings and cocktail parties to show off featured art.”

Two of Miville’s pieces appear in the gallery’s inaugural exhibition. They were both created in the downstairs apartment of his mother’s guesthouse on Captiva, a room in which the floor was actually composed of sand upon which the foundation Miville 01of the house is built. “Rene often used the sand in his artistic process, making the works truly a product of his environment,” states the exhibition trifold for the show. “His relationships with his home is expressed in his dedication to the SWFL community, including the creation of The Miville Gallery in downtown Fort Myers.”

The exhibition is on view now through July 31. The Miville Gallery is located on the second floor mezzanine at The Franklin Shops on First which is located at 220o First Street in the historic Streamline Moderne store built by hardware magnate W.P. Franklin in 1937. For more information, please telephone 239-333-3130.

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Introspective work by Danielle Branchaud on view now at The Miville Gallery (07-13-14)

Mezzanine 01On July 2, The Miville Gallery opened in downtown Fort Myers. Occupying the 2,200-square-foot south mezzanine, the gallery’s inaugural show features five artists. One of the five whose work is featured is Canadian-born but locally grown Danielle Branchaud.

A second generation artist, Danielle grew up surrounded by art. But while her mother was Branchaudinspired by the Southwest Florida landscape, Danielle’s work is more introspective. Through her art, Danielle aims to help her viewers better understand that emotions, from pain and sorrow to happiness and joy, are universal, and her greatest inspirations come from her dreams, even nightmares. “By reaching into her subconscious, her body of work exemplifies what she describes as ‘the things that we feel on the deepest level, and often fail to acknowledge,'” notes The Miville Gallery show trifold. “When you see one of her paintings on a gallery wall, it’s almost certain that this work was ‘birthed from a dream.'”

Viewers 01The five pieces on view at The Miville Gallery are ones that reflect various states of consciousness, which evolved primarily from a meditative state and nature. They portray motifs that are relatable in a way that encourages viewers to see themselves reflected in the painted medium, to say to themselves, “that could be me.”

The Miville Gallery is located on the second floor mezzanine at The Franklin Shops on First which is located at 220o First Street in the historic Streamline Moderne store built by hardware magnate W.P. Franklin in 1937. For more information, please telephone 239-333-3130.

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Daniela Martinez’s doll and arachnid photos provide autobiographical glimpses into artist’s life (07-07-14)

Daniela Martinez 01Last week, The Miville Gallery opened in downtown Fort Myers. Occupying the 2,200-square-foot south mezzanine, the gallery’s inaugural show features five artists. Twenty-two-year-old Daniela Martinez is one of the five.

Martinez uses a remote control camera to produce self-portraits. Two of Daniela’s series are represented in the show. Her doll collection serves Daniela Martinez 07as a metaphor for the plasticity of the personalities that people exhibit on the outside. Starring her pet tarantula, Kitten, Daniela’s silver metal printed series evinces the artist’s belief that even something that is typically viewed with hatred and disgust has a gentle, beautiful side.

“The variety of Daniela’s work is a result of an Daniela Martinez Here Kitty Kitty Tooaspiration to use art for self-expression,” the Miville Gallery states in the trifold exhibition hand-out. “The range of the characters that she creates, from a Barbie doll to a Zombie, reflects her inner diversity. Her artworks are manifestations of her daily life’s experiences; a photograph may reflect the happiness she feels, or the despair.”

The gallery likens her process to that of the legendary Cindy Sherman, and Daniela’s tool box includes light and computer editing techniques that she taught herself by watching online video tutorials. While she may be the youngest artist in the gallery’s seminal exhibition, she is clearly not the least talented, Daniela Martinez 06and patrons and collectors can expect bigger and badder work from this artist in the future.

The Miville Gallery is located on the second floor mezzanine at The Franklin Shops on First which is located at 220o First Street in the historic Streamline Moderne store built by hardware magnate W.P. Franklin in 1937. For more information, please telephone 239-333-3130.

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Naples artist Cesar Aguilera uses metaphors to express social commentary (07-05-14)

Cesar Aguilera 12The Miville Gallery opened in the south mezzanine of The Franklin Shops on First on July 2. Designed to introduce new work by curatorially-vetted artists to first-time and neophyte collectors, the gallery is featuring five artists in its inaugural exhibition. One of those artists is Cesar Aguilera, an Ecuadorian transplant possessed by a passion to change the injustice wrought by humans on each other, animals and the environment through his mixed media social art.

Cesar Aguilera 07A case in point is Captive Soul. This oil and clay on wood panel piece depicts a man in handcuffs. But the man’s cuffed hands are not painted onto the surface of the wood panel. Sculptural, they protrude from the surface that imprisons the tortured face of Aguilera’s subject in two-dimensionality. Aguilera has been exploring the possibilities of integrating sculptural elements into his paintings since immigrating to the United States since 1998 but, as Tincture’s Terry Tincher observed during the exhibition’s opening, while anyone could conceive the effect, it takes someone with Aguilera’s skill to “brilliantly pull it off.”

Technical acuity aside, Captive Soul has something important to say. Cesar Aguilera 13The man depicted in the painting, you see, is not under arrest. He is a migrant worker held in slavery in a farm camp in Immokalee run by a contractor known as a crew leader. He no doubt came to Immokalee illegally, paying a transportation fee for the ride to Florida. Told he could work off the fee over time, he learns upon his arrival that he cannot leave the contractor’s camp until he pays the debt in full, a near impossibility since the crew leader deducts from the worker’s meager wages exorbitant sums for food, rent, alcohol and cigarettes. To ensure he doesn’t just walk away, the camp is “supervised” by armed guards, who often pistol whip, rape and threaten to kill workers who try to leave the camp. Many camps are surrounded by fences topped by barbed wire.

“This worker was handcuffed and kept in a van at night,” Cesar revealed at the gallery’s opening.

Cesar Aguilera 14“For decades, farmworkers received sub-poverty wages, were forced to work long hours not under their control, and experienced mistreatment and violence from their bosses, or crew leaders, in the fields,” Coalition of Immokalee Workers member and farm worker Oscar Otzoy told Global Research just last year. But to put that statement into sharp contrast for his viewers, Aguilera depicts in the accompanying painting, Famulatus, a pair of cracked and weathered fingers grasping a handful of orange tickets. In the background, a quarter, nickel, dime and one-cent piece are splayed on a plain wood bench. “Each ticket is worth 41 cents,” remarks Aguilera. “That’s all a migrant worker is paid for picking a bushel of tomatoes in the hot Florida sun.” Not to mention fields containing plants so coated in pesticide that it stings the eyes and makes it hard for the workers to breathe.

Cesar Aguilera 08So severe were the conditions in Immokalee just a decade ago that it prompted a lengthy expose in The New Yorker titled Annals of Labor: Nobodies. Conditions have not improved much. ”In America today we are seeing a race to the bottom, the middle class is collapsing, poverty is increasing, but what I saw in Immokalee is the bottom in the race to the bottom,” independent Senator Bernie Saunders was prompted to say just a few months ago.

But Aguilera does not use the evocative imagery of Lost Soul and Famulatus to draw attentionCesar Aguilera 02 to human trafficking and slavery. “Captivity has many forms and the most common is the captivity to excess, which extends to all of humanity and is the cause of most of our socioeconomic anguish as well as the incentive to enslave people to maximize the returns which nurture the many faces of our human excess,” states the transparency posted adjacent to the painting. “Civilization can seem a world of captive souls, even though we only see the most obvious victims, the ones that echo the voice of our own quiet desperation, the ones that disguise the burden of our adolescence as a species.”

With a background in environmental engineering, Aguilera also uses art to comment Cesar Aguilera 03on ecological themes. In There Is Something You Can Do, which he exhibited in 2011 at Samaniego Fine Art in North Naples, Aguilera excoriated the wanton dumping of toxic waste in the waters off Africa, where there is an absence of regulation and enforcement given the chronic warfare and political in-fighting being experienced by many African nations. “The waste is poisoning the fish, and the fish are poisoning birds, other animals and even people,” Aguilera observed at the time.

Cesar Aguilera 04Aguilera was born in the colonial district of Quito, Ecuador, the middle son of five children. He grew up in an artistic family and at a young age learned the basics of color and shape from his older sister, who was in art school. Visits to his uncle’s art studio further fueled his passion for art. While his early works were done in graphite and watercolor, he transitioned to oils and acrylics after moving to the United States during his late teens. While he regularly incorporates mixed media and sculptural elements into his compositions, his painterly style is clearly influenced by the Old World sensibility of Renaissance masters.

Mezzanine 01“Cesar’s art is inspired by the preservation of life,” states the trifold that The Miville Gallery published in conjunction with its seminal exhibition. “He focuses on how there is so much beauty in even the smallest of things. He wishes to amplify the beauty of human achievement with the voice of his artwork, while still engaging a sense of urgency to preserve our natural wonders.”

You too can become inspired by Aguilera’s poignant metaphorical artworks at The Miville Gallery. It is located on the second floor mezzanine at The Franklin Shops on First which is located at 220o First Street in the historic Streamline Moderne store built by hardware magnate W.P. Franklin in 1937. For more information, please telephone 239-333-3130.

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