‘Quatre visions’ at Ruiz-Healy Art – Sightlines
Fotoseptiembre USA, the annual photography festival that takes place each September in San Antonio and Hill Country, returns for its 27th year with a host of online and in-person exhibitions.
TO Art Ruiz-Healy in San Antonio, four photographers with ties to South Texas capture the culture and landscape of the region and beyond. “Four Visions: Carrington, Limas, Salcido, West” transports the viewer to worlds straddling history, identity, nature and beauty.
Rahm carrington explores the masculinity and pageantry of the Charreadas – rodeo competitions rich in history and tradition – with her selected photos. Hailing from Mexico (via Spain) in the 1500s, Charreria tests the lasso and ranching skills of his competitors, while maintaining a performance show. Shooting in 35mm, Carrington – who grew up hanging out with Charreadas in his hometown of San Antonio – captures warmth and intimacy in these action-based shots.
“Luis’ Leap” (2019) is a perfectly synchronized black and white lasso trick, the subject walking in a circle of his own making without ever touching the rope. “Opening Ceremonies” (2017), also in striking black and white, shows two men – “Charros” – on horseback, one waving the Mexican flag, the other an American flag.
Three color photos feature the lesser-known counterparts of the Charreada – “Escaramuzas” – riders in bright ruffled dresses, riding a side saddle in a choreographed line.
It’s a fascinating glimpse into another time and another place, here and now.
Carlos limas the work focuses on the mysterious beauty of architectural relics in contemporary settings, from a mid-century modern cinema in Kingsville, Texas, to a ruined bridge in Paracas, Peru. Lima’s series “Silence” (2018-2021) pays special attention to surrounding environments and signs of life in otherwise abandoned structures.
A photo of an old church in Linn, Texas has a timeless quality, with its empty domed steeple containing the light and the sky. Linn is located in the heart of South Texas ranching country, not far from the US-Mexico border, with properties dating back to the region’s original Spanish land claims. The church, now in ruins, was built 100 years ago as a Catholic station for rural residents unable to make the long journey on horseback to the main church of San Isidro.
Limas, who was born in Matamoros, Mexico, currently resides in the Rio Grande Valley, working across all disciplines of photography, painting, video, and graphic design. His interest in abandoned architecture reveals a not too distant past by contemplating, what he calls, their stoic presence.
Joel Salcido’s four photographs lead us out of the gallery and into a dimension of light and layers of another world. Originally from El Paso who worked for years at the El Paso Times, first as a personal photographer and then as a photo editor, Salcido pursued his own photography for decades. Now based in San Antonio, he has traveled across Latin America, the United States and beyond with his camera.
Salcido’s famous “Atotonilco El Alto” (2012) is a hymn to the Mexican highlands in the state of Jalisco, with its large cactus chandelier, illuminated by the late afternoon sun which softens the spears of ‘countless blue agaves. The image reveals a feeling rather than a frame, its breathtaking physical landscape giving way to an emotional landscape.
“En El Tiempo Del Quixote” (2007) has a similar effect, but with an entirely different subject. Shot as part of the photographer’s year-long project, “Spain: Millennium Past”, its deep sepia storm clouds psychologically engulf the viewer, as three men on horseback valiantly round up bulls. “These images may have been meant to be painted, but instead became photographs,” Salcido writes of the project. “May Spain remain forever strange, precarious and precious.”
Documentary filmmaker and photographer Tito West has a way with strength in the details. Drawn from an early age to nature and geology, the South Texas native (and seventh-generation Texan) has spent a decade doing conservation work in East Africa. In this show, West’s photographs feature rodeos across the United States, in addition to several stunning shots from Ethiopia and Tanzania.
Each image captures an interstitial moment, mostly men in their element. Rodeo champion Mason Clements appears in several, including a cropped portrait with his hands on his hips and a single glove tucked into his leather leggings; a show of shameless pride. Another image tenderly captures a man at a rodeo in Tremonton, UT, his hat over his heart as he watches in silent reverence.
A one-color photograph shows a member of a tribe in Sala, Ethiopia. “Mursi Man” (2019) shows an individual with his back to us, a brightly patterned fabric against his bare skin expressing the flawless ripple of muscles and bones. Concentric circles of scars on his right triceps and a burst of mohawk exude an intense masculinity not unlike the portrayal of Mason Clements on the other side of the world.
Throughout this show, we see an overlap of time and place between the stranger and the familiar.
“Four Visions” is a Venn diagram of lived experiences and regional references, with its overlapping themes and unpaved paths. These four photographers all articulated something unique about South Texas before heading to other parts of the country and the world, with an eye for the unseen. And a vision to say it.
“Four Visions: Carrington, Limas, Salcido, West” runs until November 6 at Ruiz-Healy Art, ruizhealyart.com.