artwork > p r e s s

Friday, January 28, 2011

Bringing Light

By Kate Mcgraw

For the Journal

If you paint cotton twill tape about three-quarters of inch wide with phosphorescent acrylic paint and maybe create designs in the paint with glass micro-beads, then tack the tape to make a 10-foot- by- 12-foot line drawing on the wall, the installation shows up in half-light, in daylight, even in almost no light at all. "It brings it own light," according to artist Ted Laredo.

That installation, plus others done on walls, panels and galvanized steel, opens today at Box Gallery in the Railyard. Laredo told the Journal he's been working with phosphorescent paint since 1989 and micro-beads since 1990. What's new in this work is the twill tape, he said. "It's the graphic, linear qualities brought by the tape that make it new," Laredo said. Those, and the unplugged light.

"I've always been interested in the possibilities of what it means for work to have its own light," Laredo said. "It stems from studying icons, I think. And I've worked with metals and precious metals and glasses ... these have an inner light without having to be plugged in."

"I use galvanized steel (on which he attaches his tape lines with magnets) because of its reflective quality," Laredo explained. "It's utilitarian. What drew me to it as a medium is that it's a widely available metal that has wide applications. I've always been attracted to that.

"The thread throughout the work is light and reflections and the spiritual qualities that embodies," Laredo said.

Gallery artist for seven years

Laredo has been in the Box Gallery stable since 2004, when the gallery was on Baca Street. He followed owner-director Michelle Ouelette to the Railyard venue. "It's a beautiful space, a great natural gallery," he said. "It's large and airy, a much nicer space."

"Laredo's use of phosphorescent acrylic paint and glass micro beads invites viewing in a multitude of light conditions: in the dark an 'equal but opposite' experience of the same work is achieved," Ouelette continued. She added that in his mono-diptychs, Laredo used reflective glass micro beads and deep-hued monochromatic acrylic on panel. "The solidity of the monochrome gives way to an ethereal inner light," Laredo said.

His geometric wall-drawings — necker's cube, honeycomb cells — constructed in cotton twill tape painted with phosphorescent acrylic "appear three-dimensional," Ouelette said. "They fluctuate in perspective, and seem to float in negative space."

The artist is used to changing locations. Laredo grew up in south Texas on the U.S./Mexico border, not far from his namesake town. He studied at the University of Texas-San Antonio and earned a bachelor's in fine arts degree from UT-Austin in 1990.

The same year he married artist Angela Berkson, also a Box gallery artist showing encaustics and other paintings, and the couple moved to New Mexico, settling in Albuquerque. "That was a good move," Laredo said contentedly.

He has also shown in Albuquerque at Galerie E and Formations Gallery, and his work was featured in a group show, "Exhibit/208," in the Duke City and in the "88' show at Domy Books in Austin last August. Laredo's work was also seen in coupling/ART in July at 10101 Gallery in Albuquerque.

Journal North Article: Bringing Light