Tuesday, January 30, 2007
Finding Hope, Finding Community in Art
Tonight a small group of people came together to the opening of an exhibition of paintings by Daniel Camacho, called "Looking for Hope: The Paintings of Daniel Camacho," hanging in the windows of the Cesar E. Chavez Branch Library on East 12th Street, right around the corner from the Fruitvale BART Station.
Daniel Camacho's paintings are rooted in the motifs and images of community. He explained how it is "easier to organize when you have a community." He briefly explained the symbolism behind his work: one painting shows a type of electric light-bulb with a group of people in a circle holding hands in the interior of the buld. Another shows hands and a cascade of candles glowing in shades of darkness of deep blues. Daniel talked about the metaphor of lighting a candle as a symbol of hope and sprituality. This exhibition of his art directs itself explicitly to the violence East Oakland has been suffering over the last twelve months. His art, he said, does not offer a solution or pretends to. His art is a reflection, a type of midfulness I would add, about overcoming and stopping the violence by rebuilding community.
When the community itself is under attack within and without, then the task to to save the community in order to be able to organize more easily for those ideals and goals that art, poetry, culture, human community and the work of Daniel Camacho yearn for, dream, struggle. Daniel Camacho's paintings is more than a tool or a support, his art speaks for itself not only against violence, but more significantly, Daniel's work speaks for and is rooted in community, in collective processes for social change, for an art of the commune, as Mayakovsky would say again tonight from the depths of the 20th century.
There was only one criticism tonight, at the opening reception for "Looking for Hope: The Paintings of Daniel Camacho." It is that Daniel Camacho did sign one single piece of his paintings. He replied: anyone can use the paintings, they are for everyone. Public art at its best.
Look out for Daniel Camacho's work, hanging on light poles on East 14th (aka "international boulevard"), gracing archway entrances and sidewalks of the plaza between E. 14th and E. 12th, straight across from the Fruitvale BART Station, being carried in marches demanding a new citizenship and jsutice for undocumented immigrants, by organizations fighting racism, community groups supporting the Zapatista Indian communities demands and dreams of self-determination, autonomy and equality for Indian culture and rights everywhere or at public schools and other unexpected but public, community spaces.
"Looking for Hope: The Paintings of Daniel Camacho" can be viewed from today January 30 through February 28, 2007. In Daniel Camacho's paintings you will room for yourself, finding community and hope for all.