Artist and activist Armando Minjarez has been busy! He’s the driving force behind the ICT Army of Artists, responsible for the Immigration is Beautiful mural – and its loving restorations after it was defaced.
Minjarez also found the time to create an array of sculptural and installation artwork for his solo exhibition Un Recuerdito or, A Small Keepsake. Despite the diminutive in the title, the show takes over the first floor at CityArts.
At the center, a quilted flag titled "The Fabric of America" hangs from a pillar. Its patchwork marries the flags of Mexico and the United States as it drapes onto the floor like a bridal train. Despite a title that sounds like a beauty pageant theme, the flag resonates as a personal banner that stitches together a complicated and fragmented love for two nations.
My personal favorite is "El Milenio en un Momento." From within a tall, gold frame, thousands of colored confetti dots fill the space and pour over the bottom edge. Given the specific context of this show, the abstract work symbolizes the influx of immigrants crossing the U.S. – Mexico border.
But this work has the potential to speak more broadly. There’s nothing that only ties it to the U.S. – Mexico border. Its conceptual reach is more global, where the dots-as-individuals can be from anywhere and the frame can represent any border. This, in turn, prompts questions, like: Why do people leave their country en masse?
While I wish that Minjarez had taken some pieces slightly further, the show is executed with earnest, thoughtful convictions, and I applaud his courage and honesty.