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Arts & Culture

Rochelle Botello's Dog Days Exhibit Challenges Expectations About Art

Artist Hugo Heredia Barrera at his Punto Experimental Gallery, May 9, 2015.
Beth Accomando
Artist Hugo Heredia Barrera at his Punto Experimental Gallery, May 9, 2015.

Punto Experimental showcases L.A. sculptor's work through June 27

Rochelle Botello’s Dog Days Exhibit Challenges Expectations About Art
Punto Experimental Challenges How We Define Art
Hidden off an alley on Logan Avenue is an art gallery that specializes in experimental and contemporary art. KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando says it challenges how we define what art is.

ANCHOR INTRO: Hidden off an alley on Logan Avenue is an art gallery that specializes in experimental and contemporary art. KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando says it challenges how we define what art is.   If you’ve ever walked into an art gallery and not known what to think about the works on display, sculptor Rochelle Botello says that’s okay. ROCHELLE BOTELLO: It’s okay not to understand it right away. I think being uncomfortable is ok. I think anything that evokes some kind of emotion, it’s almost worse if you went in and felt nothing, but the only way to really get at what you may or may not like is to go and look at it in the first place. Essentially to experiment, which is exactly what Punto Experimental is all about. The name means Experimental Point, which sums up what Hugo Heredia Barrera wants the gallery to do. HUGO HEREDIA BARRERA: I love experimental work and also for me the gallery is an experiment because I never ever had a gallery and I never run a gallery so everything that happens here is some sort of experiment you never know how it’s going to be or how it’s going to work. Heredia Barrera is an artist who works with glass and metal. He felt that San Diego didn’t showcase enough experimental, abstract, and contemporary work, work that he says people might not initially define as pretty. HUGO HEREDIA BARRERA: But it challenges people to think about why it is the artist is using those materials, why are they using those shapes and that’s basically why I am doing it…. People will like some things and people won’t like some things but the point is to bring art that is experimental. Botello welcomes the idea of having people debate what art is. ROCHELLE BOTELLO: So for me even a lot of my students will be like wow this is really interesting I never really thought that art could be this, or art even could and I love this idea breaking down what we typically think of as art. For her art, Botello turns to everyday items you could find at Home Depot such as cardboard, paper and duct tape. ROCHELLE BOTELLO: For example if I’m using cardboard, I’m ripping the cardboard, making the shape or form, then using the masking tape so I can see it sort of evolve, one action informs the next and I find it an exciting way to work. The first thing you notice about her work is the bold use of color and the abstract forms that convey a certain humor. But as you move in closer you can appreciate the intense layering of paper, tape or felt. ROCHELLE BOTELLO: I wanted the viewer to feel that they could explore and discover something new if they were willing to give it the time. Heredia Barrera first saw Botello’s work on FaceBook. HUGO HEREDIA BARRERA: I actually really, really like Facebook and meeting artists there because artists can be in different parts of the world and you can see their works and you may not get a sense of what their materials are but they can be very interesting shapes or sculptures or objects. Heredia Barrera is a big fan of social media as a means of meeting artists and getting works out in the public eye. But Botello is a little more wary because the digital image never does justice to the original work. ROCHELLE BOTELLO: A lot of folks who are new to my work get it first through social media but it really is about for me the experience, it really is about maybe because it flatten everything out but once you get up close to my work you can see the layers, you can see the levels of layers. But without social media, the L.A. artist admits she might not be showing her work here in San Diego. And because of FaceBook, people are coming to see her engaging sculptures and wall pieces up close and from multiple angles, which is precisely how Botello designed her work to be experienced. ROCHELLE BOTELLO: So it makes me excited and I hope it makes people excited looking at them. And she hopes people will accept the challenge of experimental art. ROCHELLE BOTELLO: Any time you are looking at art you have to be open minded, to give yourself an opportunity to be open to a new kind of experience and… so that’s what I recommend be open to it because it is difficult if it’s new to you but new things is what helps us grow. Plus Botello’s work suggests that everyone of us has the means to create art if we just look at the things around us with new eyes. Beth Accomando, KPBS News. TAG: Rochelle Botello’s sculptures will be on display as part of the Dog Days exhibit at Punto Experimental in Barrio Logan Art District through June 27. Watch for Beth’s video tonight on Evening Edition.

Hidden off an alley on Logan Avenue is Punto Experimental, an art gallery that specializes in experimental and contemporary art, and its mission is to challenge how we define what art is.

If you’ve ever walked into an art gallery and not known what to think about the works on display, sculptor Rochelle Botello says that’s OK.

"It’s OK not to understand it right away. I think being uncomfortable is OK. I think anything that evokes some kind of emotion, it’s almost worse if you went in and felt nothing," Botello said. "But the only way to really get at what you may or may not like is to go and look at it in the first place."

Essentially to experiment, which is exactly what Punto Experimental is all about. The name means Experimental Point, which sums up what Hugo Heredia Barrera wants the gallery to do.

"I love experimental work and also for me the gallery is an experiment because I never ever had a gallery and I never run a gallery so everything that happens here is some sort of experiment. You never know how it’s going to be or how it’s going to work," Heredia Barrera said.

Heredia Barrera is an artist who works with glass and metal. He felt that San Diego didn’t showcase enough experimental, abstract, and contemporary work, work that he said people might not initially define as pretty.

"But it challenges people to think about why it is the artist is using those materials, why are they using those shapes and that’s basically why I am doing it. People will like some things and people won’t like some things but the point is to bring art that is experimental," Heredia Barrera explained.

Botello welcomes the idea of having people debate what art is.

"A lot of my students will be like, 'Wow this is really interesting I never really thought that art could be this,' and I love this idea of breaking down what we typically think of as art," Botello said.

For her art, Botello turns to everyday items you could find at Home Depot such as cardboard, paper and duct tape.

"For example, if I’m using cardboard, I’m ripping the cardboard, making the shape or form, then using the masking tape so I can see it sort of evolve, one action informs the next and I find it an exciting way to work," Botello said.

A detail of the figure in Rochelle Botello's installation piece, "Let It Fall." Her sculptures are made from everyday items such as cardboard, tape, paper, and felt.
Beth Accomando
A detail of the figure in Rochelle Botello's installation piece, "Let It Fall." Her sculptures are made from everyday items such as cardboard, tape, paper, and felt.

The first thing you notice about her work is the bold use of color and the abstract forms that convey a certain humor. But as you move in closer you can appreciate the intense layering of paper, tape or felt.

"I wanted the viewer to feel that they could explore and discover something new if they were willing to give it the time," she said.

Heredia Barrera first saw Botello’s work on Facebook.

"I actually really, really like Facebook," Heredia Barrera said. "And meeting artists there because artists can be in different parts of the world and you can see their works and you may not get a sense of what their materials are but they can be very interesting shapes or sculptures or objects."

Heredia Barrera is a big fan of social media as a means of meeting artists and getting works out in the public eye. But Botello is a little more wary because the digital image never does justice to the original work.

"A lot of folks who are new to my work get it first through social media but it really is about for me the experience, it really is about [seeing it firsthand and not digitally] because it flattens everything out but once you get up close to my work you can see the layers, you can see the levels of layers," Botello said.

Rochelle Botello sits next to her installation piece, "Corpse Flower," at Punto Experimental in the Barrio Logan Art District, May 9, 2015.
Beth Accomando
Rochelle Botello sits next to her installation piece, "Corpse Flower," at Punto Experimental in the Barrio Logan Art District, May 9, 2015.

But without social media, the L.A. artist admits she might not be showing her work here in San Diego. And because of Facebook, people are coming to see her engaging sculptures and wall pieces up close and from multiple angles, which is precisely how Botello designed her work to be experienced.

"It's made to be viewed, to be experienced not just standing from one direction," she said. "To me that was very important even working with my wall sculptures. Depending on what angle you are viewing it has a different kind of energy, a different kind of movement, a different vibration."

And she hopes people will accept the challenge of experimental art.

"Any time you are looking at art you have to be open minded, and to give yourself an opportunity to be open to a new kind of experience and so that’s what I recommend, be open to it because it is difficult if it’s new to you but new things is what helps us grow," she said.

Plus Botello’s work suggests that everyone of us has the means to create art if we just look at the things around us with new eyes.

Rochelle Botello’s sculptures will be on display in the Dog Days exhibit at Punto Experimental (2151 Logan Ave. Section B, entrance is in the alley, behind the building) in the Barrio Logan Art District through June 27. Visits to the gallery are by appointment only through the website.