As a Chicano artist in the 1970s, Jerry Jaramillo was shut out of many studios and galleries. So, in 1978, he co-founded the Chicano Humanities & Arts Council as a way to give Chicano artists a chance to be seen. "It was really hard for Latino artists to find a place to show their artwork," says CHAC executive director Crystal O'Brien. On Friday, Jaramillo will be honored with a Life Work Achievement Award from the gallery he helped start.
CHAC usually gives these awards out in the summer, but the organization wanted to honor Jaramillo now, in part because of the recent loss of one of the artist's most well-known murals (see Jerry Jaramillo's Sunnyside Mural, "Primavera," Is Gone But Not Forgotten for the full story), O'Brien says.
Currently, Jaramillo has a solo show hanging at CHAC, a retrospective made up of sculptural work, paintings and photographs of murals he's done around Colorado. O'Brien says that although Jaramillo is best known for his murals, he has been working with other mediums since he began creating art more than forty years ago. It was important for CHAC to highlight the entire body of work of one of its founders, especially when so much of the focus on Jaramillo has been a conversation around the disappearance of just one of his many pieces.
"Part of the reason I wanted to do this was because of the "Primavera" mural situation -- it was unfortunate that they decided to sell the building and paint over the mural," says O'Brien. "But isn't Jerry way more than one mural? There is so much more to Jerry; things change and people move on, so let's celebrate all of the other wonderful things he's done instead of getting stuck on one little thing."
Jaramillo has been very involved with CHAC since he helped found the arts center 37 years ago -- showing work as well as helping out with daily operations. But O'Brien was shocked to discover Jaramillo had never done a solo show in his career and felt that now was the perfect time.
"Jerry is a genuine, down-to-earth, friendly, go-with-the-flow kind of guy and that is another really great piece of his personality," says O'Brien. "He's always around to help at the gallery; the other day, he grabbed the mop because the floor was dirty -- he's just that kind of guy. He sees what needs to be done and does it. He's not an artist that thinks things are above him."
Jaramillo's Retrospective will be on view through January at CHAC. This Friday, January 16, from 6 to 10 p.m., there will be a reception and ceremony for the presentation of Jaramillo's Life Work Achievement Award. The night will be catered by Santiago's and anyone is welcome to attend. This event is free. For more information, visit the Chicano Humanities & Arts Council website.
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