Lotería Winners

Maruca Salazar, the newly installed director of Museo de las Américas, is full of praise for Mexico’s El Colectivo Malagua, four young artists from Puerto Vallarta who create graphic works as a group, from a grassrootsy, culture-driven perspective. Their latest project, La Malagua, features a modernized take on the traditional, bingo-like lotería, a communal card game characterized by its iconic imagery. And Salazar says it’s the result of great bravery and risk-taking within their traditional society.

The lotería’s 54 symbols from life, lore and nature – each with a backstory and numerous rhymes to describe it – have changed little since they became popular in Mexico more than 200 years ago. But the collective’s Yesika Felix, Sergio Martinez, Fernando Sanchez, Miguel Perez and Ireri Topete have turned that familiar imagery on its nose, even adding a new symbol of their own invention — La Malagua, or the “jellyfish,” — to their own deck of lotería cards.

“Nobody has ever dared to do that before: It’s like putting jeans on a Mary statue,” Salazar explains. “You don’t fool around with a hundreds-year-old Mexican tradition!” But the resulting large prints on canvas, she adds, are so spectacular that one must forgive them. Their imagery translates, without destroying, the folkloric richness of the lotería while also making a contemporized statement.

La Malagua also includes additional lotería-inspired works by Belen Escalante and Carlos Fresquez. The show remains on view at the Museo, 861 Santa Fe Drive, through June 6; admission is $3 to $4 (or free for members and children ages twelve and under). Get information at www.museo.org or call 303-571-4401.
Feb. 4-June 6, 2010

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Susan Froyd started writing for Westword as the "Thrills" editor in 1992 and never quite left the fold. These days she still freelances for the paper in addition to walking her dogs, enjoying cheap ethnic food and reading voraciously. Sometimes she writes poetry.
Contact: Susan Froyd