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16 Feb 2017

Art Honoring History: Marconi Calindas Shows His Series Honoring the Delano Grape Strike at His Eponymous Gallery

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"Faces of Difference" by Marconi Calindas. "Faces of Difference" by Marconi Calindas.

Marconi Calindas shows the works of many different artists in his gallery, but for now, he’s shining the spotlight on some of his own colorful work.

Calindas is excited to share Welga (Huelga): A Tribute to the Great Grape Strike with the desert art scene. The works, featuring beautiful, vibrant colors typical of Calindas’ original home in the Philippines, were originally shown in Northern California.

“It was showcased at the EastSide Cultural Center in Oakland during the 50th anniversary of the strike,” Calindas said. ”The exhibition ran for at least a month in the center, and then the organizers brought it with them to other venues in Northern California.”

Calindas—whose list of art exhibitions and awards is beyond impressive—said he was honored to be chosen to create works representing the historic 1965 strike of Filipino grape-pickers. He explained how he came to create the Welga series. (“Welga” is the Tagalog word for strike, while “huelga” is the Spanish word.)

“An organization led by a Filipino professor for Asian American studies from UC Davis (Robyn Rodriguez) knew about my success as a Filipino artist in San Francisco and invited me to participate in their commemoration of the Delano Grape Strike,” Calindas said.

As a Filipino immigrant himself, Calindas said he felt a personal connection to the history of the strike.

Marconi’s expressive and colorful pieces are made from acrylic and ink on canvas, as well as mixed media such as papier-mâché masks. One of the most striking works in the show is “Faces of Difference,” which features nine brightly colored masks—seemingly the same in every way but their vibrant colors.

“This is generally a depiction of my take on people of different colors trying to make a stand and a mark in this country and the world,” he said. “We are different but still the same.”

“A Plant at a Time” (below) depicts a hand placing a plant in the green ground.

“To harvest a better future, we need to plant good deeds and visions one day at a time,” he said about the work.

Galleria Marconi is an upbeat place with positive vibes and spirited art. Calindas considers his gallery a place of social relevance and commentary.

“I grew up in the Philippines and was part of this progressive visual and theater group, Teatro Umalohokan, back in my university years, and being part of the group has molded me to be the artist that I am right now,” he said. “(I want) to convey messages about what’s going on around our community. For me, as an art ambassador, we should also be ambassadors for peace, equality and the change we need for a better life.”

On March 1—during the Backstreet Art District’s First Wednesday Art Walk from 6 to 9 p.m.—Calindas will present a special one-night showing of the works of students participating in local nonprofit arts organization Tools for Tomorrow.

“Kids’ artworks will be mounted on our walls for a night of showcase and celebration for these kids’ talents,” he said.

Welga (Huelga): A Tribute to the Great Grape Strike is on display through Friday, March 31, at Galleria Marconi Palm Springs, 2668 S. Cherokee Way, in Palm Springs. For more information, call 415-418-9546, or visit www.galleriamarconips.com.

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