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Memorial Article by Mark Van Proyen

Exerpt from On Point

Mark Van Proyen
December 1997

Mutatis Mutandis- the more things change, the more they stay the same. The large oak tree that spreads over the lawn next to the UC Santa Cruz art department could well have those words etched into its bark, or so I thought on September 28. I stared long and hard at that tree while listening to people share memories of Eduardo Carrillo, who dies too young and too suddenly in July.

Eduardo was a professor in the university art department. We assumed that, like the familiar oak tree, Eduardo would be there tomorrow and the next day—his characteristic generosity and good humor being something that all who knew him could depend on. Judging from what was said on that hot late summer afternoon, I was not the only person who felt a debt of gratitude for the many ways that Eduardo gave of himself to me and to the world.

Eduardo was very much an “everyartist,” which is not to say that his work was in anyway mediocre-far from it. Rather, he was an “everyartist” in his focus on using his own experience and values as a basis of his work as well as an “everyartist” in his isolation from and indifference to the fashions of the art world, which he viewed as a grand spectacle of venal ambition, institutional self congratulation and absurd exclusionism well before those endearing attributes were satirized by Jesse Helms and Morley Safer to dire political consequence. It was and remains a world whose values had little to do with the things that Eduardo prized, down-to earth things like dedication, family, friends and the delicate fragility and wonder that seeps out of momentary existence. These are the salient attributes of Eduardo’s paintings. If we are forced to call his paintings “Magic Realism” for want of a more apt category, it is because Eduardo was keen to see the magic veiled by everyday reality. Whether he was painting a mural or a watercolor, he held his work accountable to this fundamental aesthetic value.

This begs the question of why these values are considered an anathema by the larger art world, and the only short answer that I can advance is that said world has been far too busy trying to manufacture meaningful history of lived experience. This is a sweeping statement, and like all sweeping statements, it will fail the closest scrutiny at some points..