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Art review: Margarita Cabrera at Walter Maciel Gallery

October 7, 2011 |  5:30 am

Drawing on strands of several recent projects, Margarita Cabrera’s third solo show at Walter Maciel Gallery offers the most comprehensive glimpse yet of the El Paso-based artist’s impressively ambitious enterprise, an astute amalgamation of conceptual art, craft and political activism. 

The show includes a number of works produced in recent years in the collaborative workshops that are her modus operandi, involving volunteers from both sides of the U.S./Mexico border: sculptures involving the tools of farm workers, beautifully adorned with ceramic flowers and butterflies; a stuffed cactus made from border patrol uniforms; a flock of 500 life-size Monarch butterflies — a species whose annual migration stretches from Canada to Mexico — made from copper using traditional Mexican techniques and stamped with images of the American penny. 

What’s new is the introduction — by way of a taco cart stocked with items of Michoacán copper work, all for sale at reasonable prices (with proceeds returning to the craftsmen) — of Florezca Inc., a functioning, for-profit, multinational corporation, founded by Cabrera, that will serve as a kind of umbrella organization for future collaborative projects. It is a brilliant stroke of critical pragmatism: a mechanism to facilitate the production of art on a community scale while conceptually addressing issues of globalism, labor practices, corporate legality and immigration, as well as allowing Cabrera, who herself immigrated from Monterrey, Mexico, as a child, to formally designate her collaborators as shareholders, thereby conferring upon them the profits of their labors and granting “members of the Spanish-speaking immigrant community in the U.S., the same rights and protection accorded to the shareholders and employees of other multinational concerns.” 

-- Holly Myers

Walter Maciel Gallery, 2642 S. La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 839-1840. Ends Oct. 22. Closed Sundays and Mondays.

Above: Margarita Cabrera's "Craft of Resistance." Credit: Courtesy of Walter Maciel Gallery