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Museo Wins $10,000 Rydell Award Grant from Community Foundation of Santa Cruz County

Museo Eduardo Carrillo has received a grant of $10,000 from the Community Foundation of Santa Cruz County to fund the First Watsonville Art Walk from September 3- November 3,  according to Museo’s Executive Director, Betsy Andersen.


The Art Walk will feature the “Hablamos Juntos: together we speak/ Contemporary Latino Broadsides” series. Artists will be attending. It is a major educational project of Museo Eduardo Carrillo and Pajaro Valley Arts. The banners show Latino art in an array of mediums from artist throughout California. The series will be expanding. Each banner has text in English and Spanish, written by teens in the Young Writers Program.

Reception begins at Pajaro Valley Arts, 37 Sudden St, Watsonville at 6PM on September 16.

The grant from the Foundation gives us the resources to create a self guided walking tour and map in which Latino art is the main feature. This free event allows unlimited access to the art. We’re ecstatic about the support and vote of confidence from the Community Foundation of Santa Cruz County and fiscal sponsorship through Arts Council Santa Cruz County!

Art of Engagement: Visual Politics in California and Beyond

Peter Selz
with an essay by Susan Laundauer
University of Berkeley Press in conjunction with the San Jose Museum of Art, 2006


In 1979, using ceramic tile, Eduardo Carrillo (1937-1997) created a remarkable mural, forty-four feet long, as a commission for the city of Los Angeles. Born in Santa Monica, Carrillo studied at UCLA with Stanton MacDonald Wright and William Brice, and also spent a year in Spain, where he came to admire the paintings by Hieronymus Bosch, Diego Velazquez, and El Greco in the Prado, as well as the work of Giorgio de Chirico. As he matured, he combined the Spanish and Mexican Baroque traditions with European modernism, achieving work of highly personal authenticity. In 1966 he founded El Centro de Arte Regional in La Paz, Baja California, which he directed for several years. There he helped revive the regional crafts of ceramics, leatherwork, dyeing, and weaving for the production of fine salable items. In 1972 Carrillo joined the art faculty of the University of California, Santa Cruz, where he remained until his death in 1997. In 1976, as a gift to the community, he painted a mural based on the theme of birth, death and regeneration, in a vaulted passageway near a downtown shopping mall in Santa Cruz. The mural was obliterated, however, by a bank that later acquired the property, the manager claiming he had no idea of the value of the work. Carrillo’s ceramic mural for Los Angeles was done on a curved wall in front of the Church of Dolores, close to Siqueiros’s mural Tropical America on Olvera Street, in the original Mexican section of the city. Entitled El Grito, it commemorates the Mexican revolt against Spain in 1810. Father Miguel Hildalgo y Costillo, Mexican Creole priest, launched the revolt with his cry for independence, known as El Grito de Dolores. Leading an insurgent army in the early fight for independence, Hildalgo is said to have carried the banner of the Virgin of Guadalajara, but was eventually defeated by royalists. Hidalgo was defrocked and shot. But his grito, calling for the freeing of slaves and the redistribution of land was not forgotten. In Carrillo’s mural Hidalgo is the central figure. Next to him we see a woman carrying the standard of the Virgin of Guadalupe, and farther to the right Native men with arrows, women carrying baskets of corn, and children at play. Spanish grandees flee on horseback, and a black flag displays a skull and crossbones. The luminous glazes of the ceramics, predominantly in blue and ochre, endow the work with an amazing glow. Carrillo’s later paintings, shown in a solo exhibition at the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento in 1986, were often preoccupied with images from Mexican mythology, history, and contemporary culture. Painted in closely hued vibrant colors, these depictions of human drama convey a sense of mystery, reminding the viewer of Surrealist imagination.

View book at University of California Press 

Immigration: Borders, Boundaries, Beginnings

Sara Friedlander and Jane Gregorius

The art work of Sara Friedlander and Jane Gregorius addresses the current and historic issues of migration and displacement.  What does it mean to belong, and who controls who stays?

Each artist brings their wise and thoughtful hand to their art.  Read what they have to say.

Birds of im/Migration by Sara Friedlander

I have created these visual narratives to honor the courageous women, who left their homeland and their families, often under great duress and traveled to America to start a new life. Most of them spoke no English; and holding steadfast to their hopes for a brighter future, faced daunting challenges in order to establish themselves in this new world.

I began with photographs of my maternal grandmother, born Masha Bornstein, who in 1908 at the age of 15 left her family behind in Petrikov, Belarus (background image) and traveled alone in steerage to Boston. She soon made her way to Providence, Rhode Island to begin anew. She was an accomplished seamstress who designed and made all the clothes in the photographs you see of her. Warmth and integrity emanate from her face. I’m told that she worked in and then ran a small sewing shop. And after marrying, she and my grandfather sent for her mother and three siblings to join them. She died before I was two and by creating this piece, I feel more connected to her life and my own history.

At this critical time, immigration is seen as a national and global threat throughout the world. These portraits can help us remember and reflect deeply on the reality that most Americans, most of us, are relatively recent descendants of or immigrants ourselves.



Artist statement by Jane Gregorius

Even the noun “immigration” has started to fill me with sadness. It used to stand for adventure, for courage, for the will to survive, the right to a choice. With politicians trying to capitalize on xenophobia, the word has become a two-part description as in “illegal-immigrant,” and it is often said that “that person is illegal.” Really, an illegal person?

I can’t imagine the poverty and squalor, the fear, the political terrors, the life of the persecuted that force populations to escape from the mother country. One of my pieces visually describes the wall and the border patrol who keep an eye on it, another describes the home that was left behind and another the homeless and anonymous wanderer without roots and home land.

Mexican-American Artists

Fourth Decade: I, 1937-1940 – Eduardo Carrillo

by Jacinto Quirarte
University of Texas, 1973

A teacher at Sacramento State College since 1970, Ed carrillo was actively involved in the chicano movement in Los Angeles a few years ago. In the summer of 1970 he painted a mural in collaboration with three Chicano artists
– Ramses Noriega, Saul Solache, and Sergio Hernandez- in the Chicano library at the University of California, Los Angeles. He later painted another mural in a Sacramento barrio. Now he is more introspective about these things. His recent works reflecting nonpolitical points of view are more related to artistic problems. He is concerned with the appearance of objects, their surface configurations, and their identifying textural qualities.

Carrillo, born in Santa Monica, California, in 1937, attended Catholic grammar and high schools in Los Angeles. He entered Los Angeles City College in 1955 and transferred the following year to University of California, Los Angeles where he studied until 1959. He received a Departmental Award at City College and the Art Council Undergraduate Award at the University of California. From 1960 to 1961 he studied drawing at the Circulo de Bellas Artes in Madrid, Spain. In 1961, he returned to the University of California, Los Angeles, where he received the Bachelor of Arts degree in 1962 and the Masters of Arts degree in 1964.

During his last year in school Carrillo was a teaching assistant. He later taught art at the University of California Extension in San Diego from 1964-1966. He left the country again in that year and went to La Paz, Baja California, where he founded and directed the Centro de Arte Regional until 1969. He and his wife taught ceramics, weaving, and dressmaking to local teenagers. He returned to the States in 1969 to work as an art instructor at San Fernando State College. Since September of 1970 he has taught at Sacramento State College.

Carrillo has exhibited widely since 1962 at the Ceeje Gallery and other places in Los Angeles, and other southern California cities. Since 1966 he has exhibited in Hayward and Sacramento, California. Outside of California he was included in a group exhibition, “Painters of the Southwest,” held in Houston in 1963, and in a juried show in the Palace of Fine Arts, Mexico City, in 1968. His most recent one-man show was held at University of California at Santa Cruz in October 1971.

While in Spain in 1960 and 1961, Carrillo became very interested in the works of Hieronymous Bosch, Diego Velazquez, and El Greco. Carrillo’s works of that period are in fact quite reminiscent of some of Bosch’s paintings, for example, his triptych known as the Garden of Delights,
now in the Prado Museum. Carrillo’s paintings are comprised of imaginary landscapes and figures.

Carrillo stopped painting for several years during his stay in Mexico, preferring to work with ceramics. He returned to painting, however, during his last year in Mexico. These works are all based on observable objects found within his immediate surroundings. “We lived in a one-hundred-year-old house (adobe) that belonged to my grandfather. I did paintings of the different rooms and my wife.”

Upon their return to the States in 1969, Carrillo became involved with the Chicano movement at the University of California, Los Angeles. His collaboration with other Chicano artists in painting a mural and his experience with actual violence during the Chicano Moratorium of August 1970 in Los Angeles-beatings, tear gas, and jail- eventually led to his disillusionment with the Movimiento. He has since become very interested in painting the effects of light falling on different materials. “I have moved away in idea from Movimiento concerns recently because I think that racism is the world’s number one problem and Movimiento breeds racism. I want to embrace the world, and La Raza is busy building a medieval fortification.”

Carrillo’s meticulously painted landscapes of the early sixties-oils on wood panels- are comprised of vast open areas in which are found lakes or seas, architectural and, on occasion, animal forms. These imaginary landscapes are broken down into various spatial fields, with the frontal plane invariably sharply delineated by man- made walls, staircases, and towers, serving as a proscenium, to which objects and terrain within the middle and back planes are related. His Subterranean Garden has a thin double walled precinct in the foreground in which are placed a number of unusual geometric structures. In the center is a conical structure with smoke coming out the top and a rectangular one with notches.

On the left side is a partially empty rectangular depression (pool?) with a staircase at one end. Within the double walls are evenly placed trees whose foliage can barely be seen rising slightly above the walls. The foreshortening of the walled precinct, based on a single vanishing point located slightly above the opening in the center, demonstrates the elevated position of the viewer. The tilted middleground is comprised of rolling hills, abutments, roads, and evenly distributed trees (six on each side). There is no variation in the spatial intervals between them. Another walled precinct, found a little beyond this middleground and foreshortened according to another eye level, creates the effect of a ground again falling away into the distance. The orthogonals of the two precincts break the visual surface along diagonals in contrast to the series of planes found in the middleground and the background- the water, hills and trees.

Carrillo’s Cabin in the Sky is evocative of the same type of feelings. But, now, the placement of totally unrelated objects within a similar spatial arrangement- the large shell in the middleground and the profile representation of the large rabbit to the right of it-gives this work an even more unusual aspect. This is further enhanced by the celestial cabin amid a turbulent sky. The usual grounds-front, middle and back are now relegated to the lower half of the painting, with the sky taking a much larger portion of the visual surface. The extreme foreshortening of the temple, which gives a strangely anchored effect, in the gravitational sense, contrasts sharply with the predominantly horizontal directions, or planes, of the terrestrial sphere.

Fortress at Turrey Pines is also based on a series of walled precincts within the frontal plane, whose configurations appear to be dictated by the artist’s
imagination and the needs of the painting. The middleground gives way almost immediately to a great expanse of the extreme background.
The representation of objects within the landscape in all three paintings demonstrates the use of various eye levels within each. Yet, even with these similarities, the definition of the horizontal in each is dictated by the needs of the theme. In Subterranean Garden the sky is a mere sliver, while in Cabin in the Sky it takes up half the visual surface. In Fortress at Turrey Pines the sky takes up one-third of the painting.

Carrillo’s most recent works are equally meticulous in their representation of objects. However, the vast expanses of the imaginary landscapes now give way to close-up views of specific locations, like the exteriors and the interiors of a home- the front and back yards, a kitchen floor, chairs, tabletops. A good example is Testamento de el Spiritu Santo. The same spatial habits are retained but more circumscribed to the frontal plane, in which the numerous objects are placed. This is also the case with his House in Venice and Backyard. Both present a vertical plane of the house-the front and the back- on the left as a limit to the foreshortened extension of the foreground. A narrow section on the right allows the artist to open up the tightly enclosed cubical space of the foreground. This device is also used to show other homes and automobiles on the periphery. There is a strict adherence to horizontals and verticals in House in Venice, which is partially retained in Backyard. The tunnellike effect of the carport in which the Volkswagen bus is parked is de-emphasized by the inclusion of the gate and the fence leading to the backyard. Although Carrillo studiously restricts his selection of subjects to these almost snapshot types of views of his immediate surroundings, he takes these and presents them in a tightly knit compositions that are spatially based on a series of planes that constantly echo the frame, along vertical and horizontal directions.

The habit of relating a foreshortened ground plane to a vertical wall plane, with an opening to the right of the visual surface, is also found in his painting of a chair placed in front of a large chest.

The painting entitled Fisheye is a faithful representation of a tiled floor on which are placed three plates, with the center one turned over. The octagonal-shaped tiles and the lines placed perpendicularly to each of the four sides of the tiles that are parallel to the frame are used in a subtle way to define the tilted plane of the floor. The octagonal shapes are foreshortened, as are the vertical lines that represent the orthogonals of the linear perspective used. The overall pattern is beautifully contrasted by the inclusion of the three plates along a diagonal starting on the upper left and extending beyond the lower right.

Carrillo has a keen sense of space- the substantive part, I believe, of his paintings. It is the arrangement of the numerous objects within the controlled spatial frameworks that is evocative of the dreamlike scenes in which human beings are rarely included but whose presence is indicated by the objects. This is as true of his earlier imaginary landscapes as it is of his more recent blown-up details of his immediate surroundings, within the home and its exterior.


Remembering Eduardo

A new exhibit at the Sesnon brings forth the stunning vision of the late Eduardo Carrillo

Julia Chiapella
Santa Cruz Sentinel
March 13, 1998

If there ever was a contemporary painter for the common woman and man, it was Eduardo Carrillo.

A painting and drawing instructor at UC Santa Cruz, Carrillo died suddenly last year at the age of 60 shortly after being diagnosed with cancer.

His sudden death shocked and saddened the local art community.

In a memorial tribute to Carrillo’s lifelong work as an artist, the Sesnon Gallery at UCSC’s Porter College is displaying a collection of his work in an exhibition titled “Eduardo Carrillo: Memorial Exhibition” It runs through April 25.

Carrillo spent his career as an artist in the University of California system but he was far from your typical academic. With his background and beliefs firmly tied to his Mexican ancestry, Carrillo moved easily between the halls of academia and the fields of farm workers.

He had one foot in the world of superstar painter and one sandal in the paisano world of “lettuce pickers” said longtime friend and nationally known art critic John Fitz Gibbon. He could move in both arenas.

Certainly, his paintings reflect a passion for his ancestors and the Chicano landscape. From the brilliant flat light portrayed in “Santoa Abarotes‚Äö√Ñ√∂ to the Aztec and Spanish skirmish portrayed in “Warrior” Carrillo’s paintings echo both the sublime atmosphere and the violent interface between Europe and the native Aztec or Mixtec people.

But Fitz Gibbon says that Carrillo’s agenda was never overtly political.

“There are many (Chicano) artists who have political agendas and usually for the right reasons, but their art is kind of a litany of complaints about this country and the selfishness, greed, and oppression that visited upon people of Mexican descent by the power hold,” said Fitz Gibbon. “Eduardo wasn’t exactly like that. He had a social agenda but his vision was basically a constructive vision. He didn’t have a political ax to grind”

Fitz Gibbon first met Carrillo in the late 1960’s when he hired him for the art department at Sacramento State of which he was chairman. He wanted to make a national presence of the school in the art world as well as diversify the department by hiring women and people of color.

Fitz Gibbon heard about a Mexican American working in Baja.

“He had established a workshop on an acre and a half of scrabble ground on the outskirts of La Paz” said Fitz Gibbon. “He brought in people who knew how to weave, carve wood, build a kiln. He created a kind of artisan workshop, in so doing he created employment to dozens
of families who were destitute”

Carrillo, Fitz Gibbon said, always looked for situations and created opportunity. Though he taught art at UCSC he always had time for the Mexican laborer in the Salinas fields.

Pamela Bailey, director of the Sesnon gallery,said that, for her, Eduardo represented generosity. He gave of himself as an artist wholeheartedly and without hesitation.

“He didn’t hold back,” said Bailey, “because he simply knew that there would be more where that came from.
He trusted his gift as an artist and he trusted the world to receive it”

The Memorial Exhibition reflects Carrillo’s uncanny ability to reinvent himself. Eclectic but technically fastidious and always passionately earthy, this collection of paintings presents work from the 1960’s up to the year of his death. It displays the wit and melancholoy that so frequently make up the two sides of the Mexican coin.

He constantly searched for ways to transform the material into the numinous. “He gave you that paradigm of spiritual truth in his form,” said Fitz Gibbon, “more deduced from an ideal realm than from a pure realm. That’s how us art critics talk”

Taking the breath of his form from the Italian painters from the 14th century as well as the proto-surrealists of Latin culture, Carrillo let his paintings bubble up from the unconscious. Born in the barrio of east Los Angeles he had an unpretentious savvy that easily drew both the privledged and the disadvantaged to his side. Fitz Gibbons claims his attitude was bred by the values espoused by his Mexican relatives love, openness, generousity of spirit and a humility that is not found in the States.

“Everybody loved Ed” said Fitz Gibbon who says Carrillo will take his place near the top of American artists. “He was a remarkable touchstone.”

To “Live Our Own Dynamic Epoch”: Eduardo Carrillo at Joseph Chowning Gallery

Eduardo Carrillo at Joseph Chowning Gallery
Katherine Cook
Artweek, October 11, 1990

Eduardo Carrillo, like many Mexican-descended people in America, is striving to redefine patterns of relating to community. In the current exhibition, Mentiritas (Little Lies) at Joseph Chowning Gallery, this struggle is evident. Born in Santa Monica and educated in the United States and Spain, Carrillo has moved between Mexico and California during much of his adult life, forcing him to examine closely his relationship to both Americas. The diversity of style and content in this show of more than twenty paintings and watercolors, ranging from landscapes and single object studies to enormous, mural-like canvases may itself reflect the multiplicity of processes that can result from emotional and intellectual turbulence.

The Hermit/St. Anthony is an unsettling painting in which a seated, skeletal-like figure fixedly stares at an object; overhead a luminous palm protects the scene like a celestial umbrella. The title recalls the story of St. Anthony, a second century early Christian who sequestered himself for twenty years before founding the monastic movement. In the painting, the artist seems to be setting a mood, heightened by his predominant use of incandescent, pale-yellow tones and concern for light, which suggests a state of deep contemplation before action.

Pulling the Plants is a landscape painting in which the muted background supports the busy foreground action. Angular, simplified figures struggle with enormous bright-green plants whose leaves resemble splayed human palms; they seem to almost grab at the participants. The uprooting of these plants acts as a metaphor for the more personal conflict this artist is attempting to reconcile.

In marked departure from the rest of the show are two large mural-like paintings, The Buccaneers, and Two Brothers Fighting, mounted in the foyer of the exhibition hall. The style of these works are reminiscent of Mexican muralist David Alfaro Siqueiros, especially the latter work. Here two muscular male combatants are depicted locked in fierce battle; behind them stands a mysterious priest-like figure whose outstretched arms seem to command spiritual symbols to float upward. With these paintings, Carrillo conveys an ideological sympathy with Los Tres Grandes (Orozco, Rivera and Siqueiros) artists of Mexico. Painters, not writers, were at the heart of the 1920’s intellectual vanguard of the Mexican Revolution. Carrillo seems to follow their lead by painting the internal revolution that exists today in the Chicano community.
Like the Mexican muralists, Carrillo sees himself as a “cultural worker” in solidarity with the people.

In striking juxtaposition to these works are two small paintings, The Street Painter and The Letter. Each depicts
solitary, eerily disenfranchised figures whose sombreros resemble halos. In The Letter gut loneliness spills onto the frame which bears deep red gashes along each edge. Again, the internal and external struggle is apparent in both the form and content of the entirety of the exhibition. In another small painting, The Bubble Cafe, the artist concerns himself with geometric planes and intersecting rectilineal surfaces. Carrillo tells us that this scene is taken from the Santa Cruz boardwalk. The geometric forms evoke thoughts of Diebenkorn and his Ocean Park series. Interestingly, Diebenkorn’s Santa Monica studio, where this series was completed, was not far from the birthplace of Carrillo.

In The Artist Dreaming of Immortality at His Grandmother’s House, the artist gives us a bird’s-eye view of the small town of San Ignacio in the Baja region of Mexico where the artist’s family originated. Cadmium red hills dominate the background with larger-than-life trees jutting out from the foot, all encasing an idyllic scene of village life. Color becomes a symbolic factor in viewing all of Carrillo’s work. It becomes even more significant when considered within the historic content of Mesoamerican traditions where color not only conveyed emotion but designated specific gods, direction and time.


Eduardo Carrillo at Joseph Chowning Gallery
Marc Van Proyen
November, 1992

Almost all of the figure paintings are frontal portraits of individuals who (by virtue of first name titles) seem to be known to the artist, and here, Carrillo shows himself to be an astute observer of the way in which the human face functions as a telegraph of complex and sometimes even contradictory attitudes.¬†Take the smallish painting titled Doyle (1992). We have the kind of close-up inspection of a man‚Äôs face the we might associate with the more well known paintings of the British painter Lucian Freud ‚Äì a face that seems to be in the midst of some kind of self confrontation, or perhaps in the grips of a willful resolution to such a confrontation. ¬†But it is also a brilliant exercise in how subdued chromaticism can achieve its own vibrancy without lapsing into simple formulas of shade and tint. Another large painting, Ruben(1992), draws back from an examination of the sitter’s face to the ways in which his total body language communicates an attitudecasual defiance, and here, it is large, broad brush strokes that are the painterly mirrors of the person portrayed.

Two small paintings of tree dotted hillsides capture that pecular autumn atmosphere of Northern CAlifornia by using chromatic understatement to subvert obvious postcard sentimentality, while a series of still life paintings really catch Carrillo putting down his painterly chops. Many of them are comprised of objects that echo a festive exoticism, but there is a somber, disquieting mood, present as well, one that makes the still life form quietly redolent of uncanny things-that-might-come. In this pecularly aesthetic attributed, Carrillo finds his painterly heritage in the Nabis painters of turn of the century Paris, such as Pierre Bonnard, and Edouard Vuillard. In Carrillo’s case, however, there is virtually no linear distortion of form, which adds to the mysterious interplay of color and tonality.