'El Milagro' highlights Grupo Soap del Corazón's take on miracles

El Que Rie

El Que Rie

Grupo Soap del Corozón, a Latino artist group based in the Twin Cities, is thriving. According to Dougie Padilla, who co-founded the organization along with Xavier Tavera over a decade ago, its survival is a miracle. It's appropriate then that the two have decided that the theme and title for this year's exhibition will be "El Milagro" -- Spanish for 'miracle' -- out of gratitude that the organization has been able to keep going.

The event is also a celebration and exploration of el milagro in Latin American culture. "We thought it would be a concept for artists to address from a lot of different angles," Padilla says.


Grupo Soap del Corazón was founded in 2000 by Tavera and Padilla with the aim to encourage art that "cleans the heart" while supporting and showcasing Latino artists. Since its inception, the group has shown work at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts' MAEP Galleries, ArTrujillo Gallery, el Colegio, Highpoint Center for Printmaking, the Soap Factory, the Plains Museum in Fargo, North Dakota, and two exhibitions in Valparaiso, Chile, in addition to participating in mural projects in Minneapolis and Chile.

"El Milagro" will feature work from over 30 local, national, and international artists who will  address miracles and the miraculous in religious, mystical, cultural, political, psychological, and historical contexts. According to the group's press release, the notion of el milagro "radiates out into daily life, into business, health care, politics, art, everything." It is also at the center of the religion that is embedded in Latin American culture.

The show features photography by Tavera, including a diptych of Jesus and Mary, and another that gives a different take on the concept of el milagro, one where the miracle can be the boss. "Often it's the politicians who can work miracles," Padilla says. In "Cuando Llora (When They Cry)" and "El Que Rie (One That Laughs)," Tavera depicts two tough looking guys, who have an aura of el jefe (the boss). 

One of Padilla's pieces in the show is inspired by a tradition in Mexico where if a miracle happens in your daily life, you make a painting and write about the blessing on the surface of the painting. His installation is about his heart failure at the age of 20, and the miraculous circumstances that surrounded it. 

Chilean artist Alonso Serralta gives another interpretation of the concept of miracles. He takes a bentwood table, which he has charred to the point of it becoming charcoal, and then grows green grass on top. Meanwhile, Ruthann Godollei creates a piece that shows a chain-link fence with a hole cut through it in "El milagro - la valla roto (the broken fence)."

Nancy Robinson has a painting in the show that features the figure of a woman watering plants that are blooming grooms where the flowers would be. The grooms are waving in the wind. Peter Morales's piece adapts some elements he has been working on this last year. "It is kinetic and colorful, and has velvet in it," he says, "and it has to do with cycles, time, and hatchets."

Padilla says the whole notion of "Latino" is fairly strange to him, especially in Minnesota where the Latino population is so diverse. "In Minneapolis and St. Paul," he says, "anybody that is from Latin America, or whose family is from Latin America -- or who loves Latin America -- fits into the group. It's much looser here." So what makes a Latino? Is it language? Yes. Is it culture? Yes. Is it family? Yes. Is it spending a lot of time in Latin America? Yes.

The sizeable list of artists featured in "El Milagro" will include a lot of regulars, such as Marcela Rodriguez Aguilar, Luis Fitch, Dave Mahacek, and Gustavo Lira, as well as Savito Betagglio, Pete Driessen, Ruthann Godollei, and Maria Cristina Tavera.


"El Milagro"

Intermedia Arts

August 3 through September 11