Michael Vasquez: Neighborhood Reclamation
Neighborhood Reclamation, a new installation by Michael Vasquez, presents an alternate, deconstructed and optimistic environment for the protagonists that have traditionally been at the center of his practice. Opening this month at MDC Museum of Art + Design, the figurative artist has painted a series of interspersed canvases that range in form and size, with the typical trappings of an underserved community – homes, yards, clothing lines, garbage, and the rubble of broken walls and fences – but without people. Walking through Neighborhood Reclamation, where freestanding works are arranged to create a winding path through MOAD’s gallery, viewers will find themselves to be this community’s pedestrians, which in all its dilapidation, also shows intentional signs of renovation and progress.
Vasquez is known for using scale and collage to assert his presence in his portraiture work of neighborhood street gangs and culture. Culling photography and images from different places and times, he pieces together content through collage to create a moment that never was. Most elements fit aesthetically, but there is a subtle and deliberate disjointedness in how things have been comingled: these are the traces of Vasquez’s authorship.
In Neighborhood Reclamation, he applies this same technique in painting from photographs that have been collaged into a composite whole. Only a sympathetic artist could so compassionately render a community in distress, improving upon original sites with renovations from other structures, and inserting signs of life – a shovel, fresh trash, lush foliage, and hopeful, brilliant blue skies – into its mises en scène. Vasquez’s show is ultimately a portrait of a broken community in transition. Replete with holes in the ground, elements of decay, and signs of struggle, there is a call for opportunity that’s yet to be explored in this neighborhood – its story is to be continued.
Born in St. Petersburg, Florida, Vasquez graduated Cum Laude with a BFA from New World School of the Arts in 2005. He began exhibiting his work with the Frederic Snitzer Gallery in Miami, where he had his first solo exhibition Family Jewels in 2007. That same year, he had his first museum show at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City. He’s currently exhibiting Portraiture Now: Staging the Self, at the National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, in Washington, D.C.
Neighborhood Reclamation is on view May 29 – July 12 at MOAD’s swing/SPACE/miami at 600 Biscayne Boulevard. For more information, visit www.mdcmoad.org.
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