February 6th, 2014
I have a habit of strolling into the UTPA bookstore when I have time to kill on campus. Unfortunately, all my experiences have been less than pleasant. One afternoon, while looking through a book’s contents to gauge whether I should buy it or not, I was told to buy the book immediately or put it back, because “reading the books isn’t allowed here.”
Recently, I overheard an associate tell a student he couldn’t look at a book stored in the back unless he was certainly going to purchase it. The student took his book list back from the associate politely and left the bookstore.
Bookstores are one of my favorite places. It’s disappointing to see that the campus store doesn’t always enforce a positive environment.
August 12th, 2013
Albert Jeffers, the man who once donated $2.6 million for UTPA student scholarships, passed away this weekend.
According to Adele Everett, Jeffers’ only child, her father died Saturday night, although the cause of death is yet to be determined.
The Albert L. Jeffers Theatre in the University’s Arts and Humanities Building was named after Jeffers in 2001 as thanks for his many donations to UTPA throughout the years, one of which was the largest single gift to the University of Texas-Pan American Foundation.
At the time of the theater’s renaming, Jeffers said he watched the University grow and wanted to help it continue growing.
Thomas Grabowski, a communications professor at the University, said Jeffers had a passion for learning.
“He was a large supporter of education in general, but specifically for the communication department,” Grabowski said.
Both Albert Jeffers and his wife, Mary Lea Jeffers, would often attend performances in the theater and he appeared on stage once to salute his grandson as a part of a Reserve Officer Training Corps commissioning ceremony.
August 8th, 2013
The lights settle down, and the theater suddenly darkens. Just as the movie begins, a little boy starts screaming and crying while his mother jumps up and starts gathering their things.
Suddenly, the boy’s tantrum abnormally erupts as he runs for the exit, his panicked mother not too far behind. Once they are out of the room, the little boy’s yells can still be heard from outside the theater walls.
Diana Rivera, founder of the organization Autism, Resources, Training and Support (ARTS), has experienced the difficulty of raising an autistic child. Her 42-year-old son Anthony Rivera suffers from autism and together, the two have learned how to overcome the inevitable obstacles that autism brings.
“The first time I took Anthony to the movies, it was a disaster. The second the movie came on, he slapped his hands over his ears, bellowed his lungs out and tried to flee the room; he completely panicked,” said Rivera, an Edinburg native. “Since it was dark, it was very difficult to get our things together while trying to catch Anthony at the same time. I was tripping all over the place. Movie theatres, I learned, are too cold and too loud for autistic children.”
According to Rivera, families raising autistic children struggle every day in ordinary activities. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 out of every 88 American children is diagnosed with autism. Daily tasks such as grocery shopping and movie trips are expeditions that can be very challenging for autistic individuals to participate in.
When Anthony Rivera was a child, grocery trips always ended with him screaming on the floor, hugging himself, and refusing his mother’s efforts to comfort him. The number of people and noise surrounding him were too overwhelming, causing him physical pain.
Autism affects the senses, leading to sensory overload, something most autistic individuals suffer from. Simple things like the drop of a broom or someone suddenly pulling back the curtains can stimulate panic attacks.
Volumes of sounds are amplified, like someone screaming right in their ear and lights and colors are brighter than normal, as if they are staring right into the sun.
Therefore, taking part in the “theater-movie” experience, can be very problematic for autistic individuals. The sounds that are projected are found much too loud for their sensitive ears. However, others are not as deeply affected by this auditory overload.
Looking back on that day at the movies, Diana Rivera got the idea to create a more “autism friendly” movie-watching environment where families could bring their autistic and intellectually disabled children to enjoy a show in peace.
ARTS, with help from UTPA sorority Eta Omega Tau, organized a fun and safe space for summer-long movie showings. Adriana Zaleta, an anthropology major, has a spot in both groups. As ARTS’s education chair and head of entertainment, the 23-year-old Edinburg native was able to pull some strings and obtained UTPA’s library as the location for the movie festival.
There will be a showing of Wreck it Ralph, a family film about a video-game bad guy who desires to be good, Aug. 12 at 2 p.m. Despicable Me, a film about a criminal mastermind who uses three little girls in completing his evil scheme but finds himself attached to them, will run Aug. 19 at 2 p.m. as well.
“The reason we chose the library as our venue was so we could have control over the sound and temperature for these children and adults,” Zaleta said. “Having control over these things makes it more comfortable for (these autistic individuals), which is the point of us doing this in the first place. It is also big enough for wheelchairs and more convenient for these families.”
Everyone has one thing in life that they turn to, to find relief in, something that relaxes them and helps them unwind. It just so happens that once autistic children and adults find their stress-reliever, it brings out a whole different side of them.
“Suddenly, it was as if a door had been unlocked. He would zone out of everything and all he knew was the picture he was creating right in front of him,” Diana Rivera said. “He became more social and open and started allowing people to touch him without panicking.”
These hobbies and talents not only help them cope with the outside world, but transform their energy into a more easy-going state, which helps with their social interaction. Anthony Rivera found his therapy in the form of painting.
When Rivera showed his painting talent, his mother was inspired to start ARTS. The organization works to make the community more aware of its efforts, as well as to allow the members of the group to freely express themselves in peace alongside others who can relate to them.
As the president of ARTS, but also as a mother of an autistic child, Rivera said she hopes to bring children happiness as well as pull together families of autistic patients.
The symbol for autism is a blue puzzle piece, which means there is still a mystery to be solved behind the disease. Rivera also hopes to lend a hand to families in completing their own little mystery puzzle.
“A lot of families feel like they’re isolated and alone, like no one understands. Then they start talking to each other and they say, ‘Wow and so how do you handle that?’ and it is therapeutic for them,” she said. “We want to be a clearinghouse of resources.”
Categories: Arts & Life
May 4th, 2013
There’s never a dull moment throughout the weekends for five girls who spend their time exploring the Rio Grande Valley with cameras by their side.
Attending concerts, festivals and hanging out at clubs is part of the job description for the stars of Spanish travel show Las Turistas, or The Tourists, which stars three UTPA students.
The show has been airing on Spanish TV channel Telemundo 40 since early March 2013 and follows five young women from around the country and South America as they explore the Valley. They discover local hot spots like clubs and restaurants and events such as concert performances in McAllen’s Entertainment District and the State Farm Arena.
“People are always complaining that there’s nothing to do in the Valley and it’s really boring here,” said UTPA student and cast member Fernanda Talavera. “If you watch the show, you’ll see that there’s actually a lot of events going on here.”
Although each woman plays a tourist, three of them are actually Valley residents but are allowed to make up back stories for themselves since the show does not revolve around their lives.
On the show, Talavera plays a Mexican tourist, Yesenia Velis plays a girl from Los Angeles and Kimmi Suchil plays a Miami native. Velis and Suchil are also students at UTPA that call the Valley their home.
The other two girls, Vianney Palma, the Venezuelan tourist, and Sindy Buezo, the girl from Guatemala, are actually from their foreign countries.
Talavera explained that the cameras do not follow them at school or at their homes, and filming is usually on Fridays and Saturdays where the events they cover take place.
PAGEANTS TO PRODUCTIONS
Velis smiled as she reminisced about how the women came across the opportunity to star in the show, saying that its producer was looking for talent at a pageant they were competing in.
“It was for a store that was looking for a face. In all, there were about 25 girls competing,” the 18-year-old Edinburg native said. “We had to do interviews for the pageant and the producer of the show was there, looking for good candidates.”
She explained that the producer was searching for women who could speak Spanish well and naturally in front of a camera, both of which were involved in the pageant interviews. From there, Velis said each woman received a call from the producer proposing a role on the program.
“I like that I’m in a TV show. That’s pretty exciting,” the pre-med Biology student said with a smile. “And also that people actually believe that I’m from California. That’s the funniest part. Oh, and I have a twin sister in the show.”
Although Talavera chose not to create a fictional family for herself on the show, she said that the producers inject fictional conflicts between the characters for the cameras. Velis agreed and elaborated on the claim.
“It’s horrible because in one of the scenes, Fernanda and I had to have an argument. And I’m thinking, ‘Really, you’re making us fight?’ because we’re best friends,” Velis said. “So when we finished filming, I’d be like, ‘Fer, I love you,’ and she’d be like, ‘I love you too!’”
BEHIND THE SCENES
Two or more of the girls usually travel together to the hot spots in the show, and Velis said that their destinations are always interesting, using Brew-seum, an international beer and art festival held at the International Museum of Art and Science in McAllen March 19, as an example.
“It was tons of beer from different countries or something,” Velis said. “I mean, I couldn’t drink, but there was a lot of food and restaurants. I had never heard of that and it was really cool.”
She also reminisced about one particular night of filming in February in Weslaco that wasn’t so pleasant.
“There was this pool that we had to film some stuff in and it was so cold. We had to be in there and pretend that we weren’t freezing,” Velis said, her body shuddering at the memory. “I would be shaking then they’d say that we were gonna start filming so I’d be telling myself, ‘Don’t shake, don’t shake!’”
Talavera said she has had some enjoyable experiences on the show and has learned a few things, like how to cook at a taco restaurant and how to mix drinks at bars.
Although both girls agree that the places they’ve visited so far are great, they look forward to doing more fun things and sharing their findings with the public.
Talavera has benefitted from the program, saying that starring in a TV show could greatly help her reach her dream career in broadcasting, which is her concentration at the University.
“I feel blessed. I feel really happy. It’s a dream come true to me,” she said. “I mean, this is my first opportunity and I’m pretty sure other doors will open after this.”
Las Turistas airs every Saturday afternoon at 5 p.m. on Telemundo channel 40. Episodes of the show can also be found on its YouTube channel.
Categories: Arts & Life
April 27th, 2013
Si es que no te has dado cuento, tenemos nuevas bloguers.
Lento pero seguro los amantes de la moda y sus seguidores excéntricos están conquistando los pasillos de tu propia universidad y permitiendo que diferentes estilos de vestir llenen el internet.
Sara Castillo, Debora Dueñas, Alicia Holt y Tere Cortes ahora están en la búsqueda de los mejores vestidos alrededor de la escuela.
Estas cuatro fashionistas toman parte de un internado national, “College Fahionista”, en donde todos los días se toman fotos de personas con estilo y se publican en el internet con comentarios y concejos para vestir.
Asique si estas buscando inspiración local o nacional para vestir “College Fashionista” vale la pena.
Abre los ojos y estate en la búsqueda de estas chicas. Y si es que se te acercan y te preguntan por una foto sienten absolutamente honrada/o.
Tuve la oportunidad de charlar con ellas y obtuve un poco de información de quienes son.
Aquí te va un pequeña biografía en de ellas.
Asegúrate de darle un vistazo a sus blogs en Collegefashionista.com.
In case you haven’t seen them around campus, we have new bloggers.
Slowly but surely fashion lovers and eccentric followers are conquering the hallways of your very own university and letting styles around you fill the internet.
Sara Castillo, Debora Dueñas, Alicia Holt and Tere Cortes are now in search of the best dressed around school.
These four fashionistas take part in a national internship, “College Fashionista,” where every day pictures of stylish individuals get taken, uploaded and commented and advised on.
So, if you’re looking for local or national style and outfit inspiration “College Fashionista” is worth looking at.
Be on the lookout for these girls and if you’re approached by them and asked for a picture, feel absolutely honored.
I had the opportunity to chat with them and got a bit of info.
Here’s all a small bio of them.
Make sure to check out their blogs at CollegeFashionista.com.
Déjame te las presento,/ Let me introduce them to you,
April 25th, 2013
April is National Poetry Month and the Valley International Poetry Festival is set to take place April 25 – 28. This is the sixth year for the festival.
According to founders Daniel Garcia Ordaz and Brenda Nettles Riojas, the festival is a series of events consisting of readings, workshops and socialization events for the poets registered. Several readings at schools and workshops are set up for the poets all over the Valley and Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico during the festival.
The opening reception will be held April 25 at 7 p.m. at the Edinburg City Auditorium. The poets will be visiting schools such as McAllen Memorial High School and Med High to speak with kids about poetry and writing.
The Poetry Pachanga, one of the main events of the festival, started with Mission native Ordaz, the author of the poetry book You Know What I’m Saying? He was invited to UTPA by Associate Professor of English Emmy Perez, who is part of the Creative Writing program, to do a reading of his works in 2007 for one of her classes. Ordaz wanted more poets to share their work as well, and the pair found themselves with 14 poets and about 170 people in the audience the day of the reading.
“One of the poets even had his son fly in from Dallas just to see him read for 10 minutes,” 42-year-old Ordaz said. “That’s when we knew the Valley was ready for its own festival.”
Ordaz asked Riojas, a poet and public relations professional, to join him in founding VIPF.
“She handles some of the logistics, such as ordering T-shirts, catering and getting us security from the U.S. and Mexican Consulates to protect poets traveling into Mexico to read,” Ordaz explained. “We’re truly international, perhaps the only festival in the world with concurrent readings in two countries.”
Amalia Ortiz, Lupe Mendez and Edward Vidaurre will be featured and running some of the events. Mendez will be reading at several venues, including Robert Vela High School in Edinburg April 26.
“I have selected a variety of pieces based on connections to education, banned books, cultural identity and the unifying feeling of struggle and success,” Mendez said.
The Houston native will also read at UTPA that afternoon in the Albert J. Jeffers Theatre in the Arts and Humanities building for the Poets in The Schools project. The PITS project aims to teach public school students that poetry is a living language that is accessible. The project provides students the opportunity to interact with working poets, according to Ordaz.
“We want young people to know that poetry is everywhere, not just in nursery rhymes,” Ordaz said. “Poetry is in our Facebook posts, it’s in our bathroom stalls, it’s in our booty calls, it’s in our DNA.”
Vidaurre is hosting two of the festival’s 27 events. One is the Slam poetry competition available to youth and adults at Schneider’s Beer Garden in McAllen April 26. The other is the lunchtime reading at the Rio Grande Grill in Harlingen April 27 at 12:30 p.m. The poets will wrap up the festival with a visit to the grave of Gloria Anzaldua. Anzaldua was an artist, teacher and scholar who was mainly known for her writing of her book, Borderlands/La Frontera and This Bridge Called My Back.
“I always look forward to the visiting poets. Also, to buying poetry books from the poets in the festival,” 39-year-old Vidaurre said. “But more than anything, the fellowship with my peers.”
Categories: Arts & Life
April 25th, 2013
A Windows Surface tablet, Xbox 360 system and PC games are just a few of the grand prizes available at UTPA’s first ‘Windows Hackathon’, a weekend-long competition where as many as 30 people are expected to participate and create apps for the Windows 8 system.
The apps will be for Windows mobile and computer devices and must be made under a 48-hour deadline. Competitors will use Visual Studio 2012, a compiler that allows users to develop applications for software supported by Microsoft Windows, to create the apps.
The Hackathon is is hosted by the Association for Computing Machinery, a national organization that promotes computer science. Miguel Garcia is the leader of the UTPA student chapter.
“Everyone can participate in the Hackathon,” the 23-year-old Tamaulipas, Mexico native said. “The only requirement is that you need to know some basic computer science.”
For some participants, such as senior Mark Lagunas, the Hackathon is the first time in a computer competition of this sort. Lagunas sees it as a way to advance his computer science degree.
“A representative from Windows (Ryan Joy, a developer at Microsoft Corp.) is coming down,” the Dallas native said. “They’ll bring several career opportunities for us. It’s pretty exciting.”
ACM adviser David Egle, a computer science professor who has been teaching at UTPA for 30 years, looks forward to seeing what his students come up with.
“This is a great opportunity for students to use what they’ve learned in class in an applied setting,” the Texas A&M graduate said. “It also gives them ideas (for) what they want to do for their senior project.”
Even though this will be the first Hackathon held at UTPA, this isn’t the first competition for the ACM.
Members of the student chapter previously competed at a Windows Hackathon in Austin in November 2012. Garcia said he believes their performance there was what caused Microsoft Corp. to come to UTPA.
“I think we impressed the judges and Microsoft with what we did,” he said. “I don’t think they expected a lot from us, but we definitely surprised them.”
The Hackathon is from April 27 at 10 a.m. to April 28 at 4 p.m. in ASB room 1.104. Students have the option of staying there for the entire duration of the competition, or leaving for breaks. Registration can register at acmutpa.com, the ACM website.
Categories: Arts & Life
April 25th, 2013
South Padre Island’s normally tranquil surroundings gave way to the roaring sound of solid power once the 10th annual Beach-N-Biker Fest geared up to a start. The festival went from April 19 to 21.
Motorcycles of every kind were in attendance: sport bikes, motorcycles, made for performance and speed, and cruisers, which are often low and wide but do not lack in performance. Then there are trikes, three wheeled motorcycles that have every type of accessory imaginable everything from chromed out motors to l.e.d lighting. Finally, there were custom bikes galore. These creations roared across the small island all weekend long.
Rows of painted steel and chrome sat outside the South Padre Island Convention Center. Bikers, motorcycle clubs and people from all over the Valley gathered to inspect and admire motorcycles left and right.
This year the events ranged from poker runs, which are events that participants ride to seven different checkpoints and draw a playing card at each, the rider who has the best hand at the end wins. There were also burnout contests which a rider will keep a their motorcycle stationary (or close to) and spin its wheels, causing the tires to heat up and smoke due to friction, the rider with the biggest and best burnout wins.
Not only were there motorcycle centered events, regular nightly entertainment also took place, bands such as Pelican West Unplugged, Mars Overdrive and Whiskey D played nights outside the convention center.
“I’ve been coming to Biker Fest for a couple of years now,” Janie Zapata from Edinburg said. “I come because it’s close to home and it’s just fun. You get to ride around, cruise the beach, have a few beers and just be around bikes and bikers in general.”
Zapata who is 37-years-old, rode passenger with her boyfriend, Mark Cedillo, on her customized 2009 Harley Nightrain.
Despite the massive presence of patrol cars and SPI police, bikes and trikes alike prowled the streets from sunrise to sunset. Most headed towards the convention center where, for the price of $15 dollars, one can enjoy the company of bikers and enthusiasts as well as a variety of vendors.
“I like to go because I enjoy myself and I like to be around other bikers,” Ruben Leal said. Leal is a seven year veteran of both fests and has been riding motorcycles for over 20 years.
The sellers at the convention had everything from motorcycle parts to riding attire, snacks, food and beer. Booths were filled with biker merchandise including motorcycle patches, which often have meaning or simply fit the personal taste of the rider. Patches come in all shapes and sizes. Some memorialize loved ones while others proudly display military pride and service.
This year the weather was a bit cold and many were unprepared for the sudden drop in temperature. Though this did little to affect Biker Fest and its events.
“We rode over here only wearing T-shirts and jeans,” Cedillo said, “We ended up spending $100 dollars on jackets that we didn’t even like ‘cause the temperature just suddenly dropped, so we gave in and spent the money.”
Cedillo, who has been riding bikes since the age of 13, rode with Zapata out to Biker Fest from Edinburg but the pair spent the night on the Island.
“It was just too cold to bear the ride back,” Zapata quipped.
Beach-N-Biker Fest is one of two bike festivals that take place on the Island. The other is known as the Corpus Christi Bike Fest. This year is the last year that two will be occurring on the Island, as of 2013, the tradition of SPI Bike Fest will come to an end. After 20 consecutive years of being hosted on the Island, Bike Fest will be held in Corpus Christi as of 2013, However since both bike fests are separate entities the move of Bike Fest to Corpus will have no effect on Beach-N-Biker Fest. Although some bikers looking forward to the change.
“I think that it moving to Corpus is a good thing, I have been to many bike fests and rallies and I can tell you that having it at the Island is not as fun as some that I’ve been to,” Cedillo said. “Pretty much all you do is ride out from one side of the Island to the other then head out to the bars, drink and then do it all over again.”
Like Cedillo others also believe that this bike fest though fun does not have much to offer its patrons.
“Its true they don’t have too much going on but its something to get away,” said Leal, who would follow wherever the fest goes. “If it goes to Corpus I would go but I would prefer if it stayed in South Padre.”
Even though the move is troubling some, not everyone thinks it is such a bad idea.
“It’s not like we don’t have fun, but moving to Corpus, might be a good thing just because there will be more to do and it being closer to the bigger cities, it’s bound to make more money,” Cedillo said.
On the the other hand some folks are not as excited about the change.
“We like it here, it’s become a tradition,” Gilbert Munoz who came out with his wife and son, said.
Even SPI loyalists like Munoz understand why the move is taking place.
“I get it, bigger city, better things, but I don’t know. I prefer South Padre,”Munoz said.
The two bike fests are held at the same location although SPI Biker Fest is hosted in October and the Beach-N-Biker Fest happens in April. Octobers’ Fest was the third largest motorcycle fest in Texas according to G.J. Reyna on the Budweiser Corpus Christi BikeFest`s website.
Categories: Arts & Life
April 23rd, 2013
There’s two fighters on a floor mat, surrounded by cheering onlookers as they compete in the 3rd Annual Rio Grande Valley Jiu-Jitsu Open and no-gi Grappling April 13. Coaches surround them, barking out orders as the two men rock back and forth entangled in a mess of limbs.
“Jiu-jitsu was the most effective form of martial arts for me after boxing. I started competing in boxing for about five years,” said Robert Tamez, a 31-year-old McAllen native.
The tournament consisted of each fighter competing in several fights. From there, the fighters’ scores were tallied up and the winners were chosen. At least four matches went on simultaneously. Referees and time judges were set up at the end of each mat, keeping time and tallying up scores. Coaches were also allowed by the judging table to offer advice and criticism to the fighters as the fight went on.
Jiu-jitsu is a form of martial arts that involves striking and grappling, a form of wrestling without weapons in a close fight. Grappling includes techniques and maneuvers applied to an opponent in order to overpower, submit or to take physical advantage in a match such as placing them in a chokehold to make them tap out.
There are two styles of grappling, Gi and no-gii. The three main differences are the techniques, the style of clothing and the tournament rules. In Gi, the fighters wear a traditional belted kimono, in no-gi, they can wear board shorts and be shirtless. The tournaments rules would be different, and the scoring wouldn’t compare as well.
“Jiu-jitsu for me is an art form of mixed martial arts. It helps me deal with stress, it’s very therapeutic, keeps me in shape, and allows me to remain close to my friends,” Amber Sias said.
Sias and Tamez were two of the fighters who competed in the Jiu-jitsu Open April 20 at the Marine Military Academy in Harlingen.
Sias started practicing jiu-jitsu in 2008, and then in 2011, her trainer re-introduced her to the sport as a form of extra exercise to her boxing.
“I started off practicing boxing for about two years,” Sias said. “My trainer asked me if I wanted to try out grappling. Pretty soon I had started training jiu-jitsu again.”
Sias is part of the Green Ghost Academy, located in Los Fresnos . She had been in a competition before but this was her first time being a part of a larger event. Sias previously won first place in a smaller tournament where she competed against men and women.
“My first tournament competition was against men, I was pretty nervous because you’re in front of a crowd and you can feel everyone watching you. It’s a challenge and they didn’t take it easy on me,” the 23 year old said. “It was definitely very different but very fun. A unique experience that I liked a lot.”
The tournament was divided into weight categories. Children competed first in a different division, and adults were divided into women and men. The tournament began at 11 a.m. sharp and finished around 5 p.m.
This open was the first competition Tamez had ever been in.
“It was awesome, I would love to do it again and definitely look forward to it,” Tamez said.
Fights consisted of grappling for about five or six minutes while referees counted points the grapplers earned. The scoring system depends on who is running the event. For example, if the trainer running the event sets rules for only above the waist submission, then fighters get scored on that. If below the waist submission occurs, the fighters could then lose points. Submission is the act of acknowledging surrender to the hold of one’s opponent.
“Whoever takes down the opponent onto the mat is counted as a point. Being on top also counts as a point yet I lost by one point against one opponent,” Sias said. “There were very talented ladies that I had to go up against.”
In her first competition, Sias placed first in her division. In this tournament, Sias placed second in her division, winning silver. The main difference for her between both competitions was the lack of female fighters.
“I’d definitely recommend jiu-jitsu to anyone. Everyone should give it a try. Kids especially would love it,” Sias said. “And it would be great to have more females.”
Sias is currently practicing to earn her blue belt. The blue belt is next to be earned after the white beginner’s belt. There are typically four stripes that can be earned from within the next belt. The Green Ghost Academy is under the leadership of the Ohana Academy who then gets to decide if Sias is worthy of her next rank.
“Right at this moment, I find myself practicing so much that in the future, when I compete, I hope I am ready for the next step,” Sias said.
Categories: Arts & Life
April 22nd, 2013
Douglas Clark took 18 months to finish a sculpture that ultimately was created in less than eight hours. It was Clark’s most time-consuming piece.
The Man on Wire is a bronze sculpture of a nude man standing on a wire while holding the wire by his sides, resembling a standing man on a swing. Clark said he intended to convey the image of balance, but the story behind the Man on Wire goes beyond what can be seen.
In the process of making the bronze sculpture, Clark went through an artistic recession period due to his 13-year-old son’s car accident in 1988.
Clark’s son, David, was run over by a car, which caused him to become blind and suffer brain damage.
“My whole world just stopped. I couldn’t do art.” Clark said. “I thought it was the end of the supply where art comes from.”
The accident unleashed a period of hospital visits and surgeries for Clark and David, leaving the Man on Wire on hold.
“I didn’t have anything. It wasn’t there anymore, it was just gone,” Clark said of his artistic inspiration.
Tim Haley, a friend of Clark’s, tried motivating the artist every week during his artistic cease to finish the piece. Haley showed his unconditional support during those months, helping Clark and his son as they were adjusting to David’s new lifestyle.
“That guy was special, he was a great support,” Clark said about Haley. “You know who your friends are when things get really, really bad, and that was as dark as my days got.”
Eighteen months after the accident, David, then 14 years old, called Clark making him realize something that would mark the start of his art making once again.
“He calls me and says ‘Dad this sympathy thing is working out great, the girls fight over to see who is going to walk me to class,’” Clark said. “I knew he was gonna be okay. That one phone call, it switched back on; I went back and finished the piece and I never slow down since.”
Clark finished the piece in 1990 and gave it to Haley, who died of AIDS four years later.
After his friend’s death, Clark decided to make the sculpture part of his friend by submitting it as a panel in the AIDS Memorial Quilt. The AIDS Memorial Quilt, Clark explained, is a project dedicated to people who have passed away because of AIDS. Friends of the individual gather to make a panel to be added to the quilt that is put on display in the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
Clark drew a replica of the Man on Wire and sent it to the Names Project Foundation, which is a non-governmental organization dedicated to the management and preservation of the AIDS Memorial Quilt.
“It is so big that it can never be seen in one place because it takes acres and acres and acres to lay it and show it,” Clark said.
Clark’s drawing faced some controversy between the members of the foundation board in Beaumont, Texas, due to the nudity of the drawing.
“I sent it in to Beaumont, he was from Beaumont,” Clark explained. “There was a lot of young ladies with the daughters of the American Revolution or something like that, ‘Oh no, it is full frontal nudity. We can’t have that. Tell the artist to draw some clothes on it.’”
The board would not release the panel until a group of ladies, according to Clark, pointed out the similarities between Italian painter Michelangelo’s nude arts and Clark’s piece. The opposed were then convinced to get on board with the drawing and sent it to the AIDS Memorial Quilt.
The Man on Wire has been a successful piece since the day the first sculpture was released, as Clark has made countless replicas. Each one of the replicas captures a small piece of the story that makes the Man on Wire a unique piece of art.
The bronze sculpture may have taken over a year to be completed, but when Clark finally finished it, he felt nothing but relieved.
“I was back at work again.”
Categories: Arts & Life