Monday, December 7, 2009

Artist Profile: Arturo Alonzo Sandoval

Arturo Alonzo Sandoval

The very first art workshop I ever participated in was in 1974 with Arturo Alonzo Sandoval at The Greenville County Museum of Art in Greenville, SC. I had been out of college a few years and had gotten interested in weaving and jumped at the opportunity to meet and work with this young and exciting artist. Later Arturo had a solo show at the Rudolph E. Lee Gallery at Clemson University in Clemson, SC. My husband, Tom Dimond, was the gallery director at that time and we had a wonderful time getting to know Arturo a little better.

Over the years I was certainly aware of the wonderful things Arturo was doing, the reputation he had established and the work he had produced but I had not seen him again until last year during a visit to Lexington Ky. During the trip I attended the opening of a show featuring Kentucky Artist/Craftsmen and ran into Arturo and to my delight he is as lively and fun as ever.

I am so pleased that Arturo has agreed to be featured in this article. He did me the favor of sending me a CD with images of his work to review and all the artist statements that accompany his many bodies of work. Just reading the statements was inspirational but reading them while looking at the art was simply fantastic.

Arturo was awarded the University of Kentucky Alumni Professorship and is a very active participant in the art community locally and internationally. He has accomplished so much and has been recognized with many awards, grants and exhibitions and I encourage you to visit his website to read further. Right now I want to go directly to the Questions and Responses and images of some of his work. Thank you Arturo for sharing your art and your story.

Questions and Responses

Terry: It has been a genuine pleasure to read your Art Statements for the various bodies of work you have presented during the past 30 years. These statements are rich and enticing. I can only assume that a viewer could not have the full experience of your work without reading this material. How do you feel about that idea and how important is it that your work stands alone on visual merit?

Arturo: The art I produce is a personal expression primarily created for me. It will reference all of my research and imagination at the moment of creation. Even though my creative flow emanates from the natural world I choose to make liberal design changes to it. In addition, intuition plays a major role in the creation, especially during the fallow time for each artwork. The artwork is finished when I feel it can stand alone on its visual merit. However, it is also important that my artwork communicates those references to my audience. Therefore, each creation will have a stand-alone title or be part of a series theme.

Millennium Portal: Baptism of Fire No. 2, 1994, 36" diameter,machine
stitched/embroidered, interlaced, and pieced, punched computer tape,
recycled paints on canvas, Mylar,
monofilament/color threads, rag paper,
fabric backed, mounted on masonite.
Collection of artist David Walker, Cincinnati, Ohio.

Terry: Your art statements often reference how your chosen art materials are used in the creation of your work and your work often references your concerns regarding spiritual and scientific concepts and issues relating to the future of our world. How do you address the manufacturing and uses of specific industrial materials that you incorporate in your work?

Arturo: It is not important to address creatively the manufacturing and industrial uses of the materials used. The artwork should conceptually transcend them. What is important is that these linear materials were developed before or during my lifetime and that I transform them into new visual and design possibilities. The innovation is in the transformation of these industrial materials for making art forms never seen before.

Millennium Portal: Baptism of Fire No. 2 Detail

Terry: While you work with "the beauty of nature" in some of your pieces, even the work which deals with horrific topics such as terrorism and nuclear attack is 'beautiful' due to your skill as an artist and the materials you incorporate. What role does the concept of beauty play in your work?

Arturo: Even though some themes are dark and concern events that have been prophesied, I want the artwork to be more than an illustration of those events, and beauty plays a very important role in communicating my artistic vision. Therefore, the processes used help to enhance the natural beauty of the materials used.

Lady Liberty/ Double Babylon ll - Double Terrorist, 1991, 87" x 61",
stitched and embroidered, Cibachromes, webbing, color acetate copies,
netting, colored threads, paint, fabric, Velcro.

Terry: What concerns do you have regarding the archival qualities of the materials you use? Are your collectors concerned about this issue?

Arturo: The manner by which the artworks are fabricated is carefully considered with regard to longevity. Using high quality materials for color and beauty, and processes to hold the materials in place achieve this. However, textile artworks are fragile even when made from aluminum, brass, and copper metals. There has to be care in the handling, lighting, installation, packaging, and maintenance of each unique piece. When the owner of the artwork understands and follows this special care and handling, the artwork will last indefinitely in its original condition.

Terry: Do you ever 'complete' a series or do you always feel that your work and ideas are open to be revisited? Can you cite where you may have revisited a theme?

State of The Union No. 13: Country Under Distress, 2004, 36" x 60",
art quilt, college, machine and hand stitched and embroidered: recycled flag, shredded
money, netting, tulle, monofilament and colored threads, acetate transparencies,
recycled playing cards, plastic skeletons, polymer/paint, binding tape,
hanging sleeve, fabric backed.
Collection of Waltron, Lt., Whitehouse, New Jersey.

Arturo: The themes I use may be revisited and examples are in the State of the Union series and Millennium series where there are large gaps in the dates of creation. More importantly, constructive creative advice is considered from other artists and mentors. Jack L. Larson, a most important mentor, advised me several years ago to revisit earlier themes created in the 1970's. This advice was taken to heart and the Pattern Fusion series evolved.

Pattern Fusion No.10 - Motherboard 1, 2008, 73" x 79",
machine stitched and interlaced; recycled auto industry Mylar, recycled library
35 mm microfilm, netting, multi-colored threads, plaited braid,
Holographic film, Pellon, polymer medium, fabric backed.

Terry: Obviously, you do a great deal of reading and research in preparation for your work. Please talk about how you prepare yourself to start work on a new body of work. Do you take notes, sketch, journal, dream, discuss, collect materials etc...? Tell us about your studio experience.

Arturo: The studio experience has evolved over the years. When in graduate school many artworks were made following sketches developed from scientific journals, newspaper clippings about current political issues, and by starting a collection of metallic linear industrial materials as Lurex and Mylar. In addition, there was interest in following themes from the West Coast art trends of the 1960's. Teachers who introduced textile materials and processes influenced several artworks. However, during the start of my professional career, interest in using industrial materials with craft processes evolved. The NEA Craft Fellowship received in 1973 guided me away from loom weaving to machine sewing, art quilting, and interlacing. During this period, many material fabrications were made before beginning on a larger piece. Later interest in reading spiritually themed books developed and ideas came from them. At that time, I also used copy machines and collage to develop ideas. Currently, when working as large as I do it is wise to fabricate a study beforehand. With commissions there are always sketches and materials studies fabricated from which the client may select.

Draped Grid Film Plaid, 1986, 65" x 92" (flat),
interlaced, cotton/vinyl grid, 16 mm film, paint, opalescent color, polymer medium;
a variable art fabric sculpture and shown here on the wall.

Terry: I enjoy knowing what artists other artists admire. Please share with us the names of a few artists you admire and tell us why.

Arturo: Living in two major cities, Los Angeles and Detroit, visiting art museums was so important to the understanding of art ideas, materials, processes, and scale as an art student. Major mainstream art influences were Frank Stella, Robert Rauschenberg, and Jasper Johns for their bold compositions and mixed media use of materials. Donald Judd, and Dan Flavin for their geometry, color, light, and installation. Later the Jack Lenor Larsen/Mildred Constantine books, Beyond Craft: The Art Fabric and Fiber Art: Mainstream, introduced designers and fiber artists such as Dorothy Liebes, Ed Rossbach, Lenore Tawney, Peter and Ritzi Jacobi, Magdalena Abakanowicz, and Ann Hamilton. These artists were influential for their processes, use of materials in innovative ways, and monumental scale. As a Cranbrook Academy of Art graduate student, I was able to view the major exhibition Craft Objects: USA during the 1969 showing at the Art Museum . This exhibit, introduced Kentucky artists Alma Lesch and Rudy Osolnik, art glass, and art furniture.

Artist Statement

What distinguishes me from other artists working in fiber is my choice to mainly explore through innovation, creativity, and recycling twentieth century industrial materials that have been primarily designed as tapes or films. Incorporating them into woven or interlaced webs provides for me permutations for my design concepts which are personalized into a visual vocabulary of the sky, water, landscape; and more recently, issues related to international and domestic politics, terrorism, the total nuclear threat, the cosmic realms and personal spiritual beliefs. As an artist, I experience the world around me with a keen observational eye. My art is graphic, abstract, and sometimes representational. The major part of my art is influenced by the lack of ethics in politics, the love of war by our government, and the relentless slow pace of social awareness and change as reported in the media; additionally, readings from Bible Revelations, Astronomy Magazine, Hubbell and Chandra telescopes, the Urantia Book and Nostradamus' predictions. It communicates my passion about life. Every day I am awed by beauty and how it influences our world regardless of the distorted and horrific conditions that permeate it. My need is to somehow find magnificence in this fodder and to create beauty from the residue of our culture. My place in the total world order is realized in the art that I create.

To read a complete Biography, please visit:


  1. I've loved his work forEVER! Thanks so much for this interview. I so appreciate your work on these interviews- I've 'met' some of the most wonderful artists that I have admired over the years but never had contact with. I don't know how you get anything else done at all (those monoprints are on their way to something spectacular) Running into you this summer was a real plus! Thanks, Terry-

  2. What a great article, Terry. I remember vividly Arturo's exhibit at Clemson and his great sense of humor and seriousness combined.I thoroughly enjoyed working with him on the exhibit : SKY GRIDS. I'll have to try and find a slide of the show to send you. He is such a great talent. Thanks for sharing this with us!

  3. Thank you Sandy for your comments. I appreciate your support!

    Tom, thank you as well and I would love to post a picture of SKY Grids!


  4. What an interesting person AND interview. I particularly found your question and his response about archival concerns interesting. I am not an artist, but I do appreciate the work, and I don't recall seeing much about this topic except in relation to works that are undergoing restoration. I am especially drawn to the colors in Lady Liberty/ Double Babylon ll - Double Terrorist, 1991" and the circular format of Millennium Portal: Baptism of Fire No. 2, but the image of Pattern Fusion No.10 - Motherboard 1, 2008, 73" x 79", makes me want to see it "in person."