Presa House Gallery, San Antonio, TX
Joe Peña (b. 1971) was born in Laredo and raised in Corpus Christi, TX, where he received his MFA from Texas A&M University (TAMUCC) in 2005. In 2011, Peña returned to TAMUCC as the Associate Professor of Art with a concentration in Painting. Peña’s work explores elements of ethnic identity, including aspects of cultural, familial, and social notions relating to his Mexican heritage. The subject matter, portrayed through various elements of still life, portraiture, and urban nightscapes, is a further reference and exploration into personal narratives, as well as traditional and contemporary Mexican customs.
The Last Stop: Nightscape Series could be viewed as an extension of Peña’s string of raw meat paintings that included lengua, tripas, and mollejas that he associates with his Mexican culture and upbringing. This latest series of paintings began with a late-night visit to a local food truck that he often frequents.
The streetlight that generally illuminated the area was out of order, and the only light visible was the glow coming from inside the truck. While not necessarily unusual in itself, from a distance, this view gave the truck the appearance of it almost hovering in the rich black emptiness of space. It was a mysterious and surreal scene and began an exploration of the use of urban nightscapes as a metaphor for the idea of home as a sense of place, not just a physical location.
It’s these comforts of home that bring out the best in Peña, the humble meat cuts, South Texas home cooking, and the unassuming food trucks and restaurants that light the way home.
Peña’s work has been featured in numerous print and online publications including Chicanitas: Small Paintings from the Cheech Marin Collection, Los Tejanos: Chicano Art from the Collection of Cheech Marin, Guitar Aficionado, Texas Monthly, The Austin American Statesman, and ArtScope New England, and Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education. Selected collections include the Cheech Marin Collection of Art, Los Angeles, CA, James Hutson, Los Angeles, CA, and La Universidad de Oaxaca, Oaxaca City, Mexico.
The Taco Chair – Joe Peña (Cool video if you wanna check it out.)
About Presa House Gallery
Launched in October of 2016, Presa House is an artist-run gallery that hosts monthly art exhibitions with a commitment to provide space for emerging and mid-career artists to experiment freely, express innovative ideas, and engage with a diverse audience. Presa House is an event-driven gallery that promotes an eclectic range of local, national and international artists
The gallery is an 1,306 sq. ft home built in the 1940’s in San Antonio’s historic Lavaca district. Headed by artist/designer, and gallery curator Rigoberto Luna and photographer/artist Jenelle Esparza. Together, Esparza and Luna host a variety of themed group shows and guest-curated exhibitions. Beyond the visual arts, they host local and touring musical acts DJ’s, poetry events, innovative performances, film screenings and more.
Presa House makes a concerted effort to be inclusive and non-discriminatory to ensure a true representation of the cultural diversity and social fabric of San Antonio. As a well-established venue, Presa House feels a responsibility in the current political climate to give voice to Latinx artists; not only in San Antonio where the population is 63.2% Hispanic or Latinx, but across the South Texas/Rio Grande region and Mexico.
Jenelle Esparza was born and raised in Corpus Christi, Texas, and is a successful studio artist and a team member of the education department at the McNay Art Museum in San Antonio.
Born and raised in San Antonio, Rigoberto Luna works as a independent designer, consultant, and curator throughout the city. His most notable clients include the City’s Department for Culture & Creative Development and Public Art San Antonio.