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Art honors: a billboard of his own and more

Let’s catch up with some visual arts honors:

BILLBOARD EXPOSURE: Some artists get their work displayed in galleries or museums. Arturo Rios Mercado of Fresno can see his on billboards in Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Austin, San Antonio, Dallas and Houston.

Rios’ drawing of an Aztec warrior won a national Indio beer contest in which artists were asked to explore the theme “Make It Yours.” He headed to Los Angeles recently to see his winning entry in person:

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Rios was featured in an August profile in Vida en el Valle. He won $5,000, which will buy a lot of beer. On the jump, another look at his winning design, plus art honors for Mac Mechem and Leslie Batty.

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Meet the artists of ‘Breakthrough’

Sunday’s Spotlight section puts the spotlight on “Breakthrough,” the terrific new Fresno Art Museum show featuring six vibrant artists with Fresno connections. You can read my centerpiece column about the show here. (Sneak preview: I loved it. My only regret with this column is that I didn’t have enough space to go into as much detail as I would have liked with each of the six individual exhibitions that make up “Breakthrough.” But I’m sure I’ll have more to say in the weeks to come.) Bee photographer Craig Kohlruss and John Alvin collaborated on the image above.

I asked each of the six artists to complete an email interview with me about themselves and their work in the show. We feature interview excerpts in Sunday’s print edition. (Also, don’t forget that we have a nice online photo gallery where you can view examples of each artist’s work.) On the jump you’ll find the extended versions of the interviews.

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Wow, what an opening

You know there’s excitement ahead at a Fresno Art Museum opening when you have to drive WAY down the block to find a parking place. I’d never seen so many people at an opening as for last night’s “Breakthrough.” I heard through the grapevine that as many as 600 people (update: final count was more than 750) crowded in for this exhibition devoted to six promising artists with Fresno connections. And many looked to be in their 20s and 30s, exactly the demographic the museum needs to keep the momentum going.

One of the highlights was Caleb Duarte’s installation piece, a work loaded with meaning. For the show, Duarte recreated a performance art piece he originally made in a small village outside Chiapas, Mexico, that involved the villagers burying him and his partner, Mia, up to the head in a shallow, hand-dug hole in the dirt. For the museum version, Duarte created a 12-by-6 foot slab of “dirt” (made of concrete and soil) that seems to float out from the wall. There’s a hole for a person to stand in the middle of that slab.

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To-Do Tonight: ArtHop

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There’s a busy ArtHop in store tonight. The monthly open house of galleries and studios in the downtown and Tower District neighborhoods runs from 5-8 p.m. at most locations.

I give my ArtHop picks in an expanded story in today’s Life section. My lead pick: a show featuring six local illustrators at the K-Jewel Art Gallery. (Kathryn Pedroza’s work is above).

On the jump: a few more images from ArtHop that didn’t make it into the print edition of the newspaper.

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