By María Margarita López
Downey’s Stay Gallery is serving up “The Corn,” a solo exhibition featuring Mario Sibaja’s large acrylics on carved wood that honor maize as a true pre-Hispanic treasure. Sibaja’s decade-long practice with this theme and medium began when he was struck by its vibrancy can revisit pre-Hispanic themes, a shift away from contemporary art.
“I love this more,” says Sibaja at the show’s opening on November 10. “I can draw upon aspects of that life, which for me, are a source of pride. The more I read about it, the prouder I am to claim these as my roots.” Bold lines, stunning colors, and a pre-Columbian art aesthetic distinguish the Oaxacan native’s work.
The featured piece is the 6 x 8 “The Corn,” a tribute to the cycle of cultivating an essential food staple, and illustrates the generation-after-generation importance of this crop. Other pieces also celebrate, cacao and pre-Hispanic life and culture.
Carlos Galván, Jr., VP/CFO of Amapola Deli & Market, sponsor of the exhibition, first saw Sibaja’s work twelve years ago at the Hotel Maya in Long Beach. He was impressed by another Sibaja’s series “The History of the Cocoa Bean” and suggested he do one on corn. Years later, Sibaja invited Galván to his studio where he unveiled some of the pieces now on display at this exhibition. “What drew me to his work is the style of the art, an homage to Mayans and Aztecs,’ says Galván. “You have to see it in person to appreciate it.”
A portion of Amapola’s sponsorship will go toward supporting the Stay Gallery’s arts education partnership with Downey Unified School District, Stay Young, a ten-week initiative led by gallery Art Director Ana Godinez.
"The Corn – The True Pre-Hispanic Treasure and some Aspects of Pre-Hispanic Life."
Through December 8, 2017
Top Photo: "The Corn Seller." Above: Detail from "The Corn," artist Mario Sibaja, and opening night at Stay Gallery. Photos: María Margarita López. Sibaja pointing out details of his work at Stay Gallery. Photo Courtesy of Stay Gallery.