The Total Sum of Solitudes:
Thirty years of Photography by Don Gregorio Antón
Humboldt State University First Street Gallery is pleased to present The Total Sum of Solitudes : Thirty years of Photography by Don Gregorio Antón. Adjacent to the exhibit will be a show of photographs by Antón's current and former students, titled From Whom I've Studied, From Whom I've Learned: Photographs by Humboldt State University Students and Alumni . Produced and curated by the students in the Museum and Gallery Practices Program at Humboldt State University, the exhibitions will run Tuesday, February 3rd through Sunday, March 7th .
Throughout his career, Humboldt State Professor Don Gregorio Antón's photographs have explored the theme of his personal journey in search of meaning and spiritual insight. Antón is a highly respected photographer who above all devotes time, knowledge and heart to his love of teaching. Antón's devotion to his students stems from his experience as a Chicano in the Los Angeles school system during the 1960's and the misguided education he received as a result of racial stereotyping and bigotry. It wasn't until a summer class with an inspirational photography teacher that he found a sense of self-worth and a future beyond the stereotypical roles suggested by teachers to young Chicanos of his generation.
He claims fear is often what keeps his students from moving forward in life and in their own art; a fear that comes from being part of a system of institutions they move through without ever finding an individual voice. Antón attempts to break down institutional barriers and create a classroom environment that is unlike that, which he experienced in his youth. He strives to create an environment where each student is encouraged to find his or her own voice and freely express it.
Antón's photography is a blend of spiritually and culturally charged images, imbued with dramatic atmospheric undertones. His imagery is rich in both implied and clearly stated religious themes inflected by his Catholic background.
The Total Sum of Solitudes is a retrospective of Antón's work throughout his photographic career. From the very early photographs made when he was 18 to his latest retablos, the viewer is invited to explore the passage of his career, a career that has been filled with personal discovery and exploration. Antón's current works in retablos, consist of an exploration of and variation on the Latino tradition of making religious imagery.
Retablos are a traditional form of painted prayer, rooted in Antón's Latino inflected Catholic background. Traditional retablos are painted on panels (often tin or wood) as invocations to the Saints, the Virgin, or the Trinity to intercede on behalf of the believer in such matters ranging from the sacred to the mundane. One might make a retablo dedicated to the Virgin in the quest for the cure to a health problem. Another might be made to the Holy Spirit seeking redemption for a grievous sin. And yet another may be created to simply ask for money to pay off a debt. In Antón's handling of the tradition, he makes mixed media pieces with photography and paint in order to chart his personal journey through life.
Antón's life's work can be defined by one word, hope. Antón's purpose is to present the possibility of hope for his viewers. He doesn't aim to inspire his audience, yet he hopes to move them enough to walk away from his photography with meaning. His purpose is to highlight the viewer, make it their position to reflect on the piece and draw from it whatever content and meaning they connect with. Antón doesn't try to convey a message through the work; he trusts in the ability of the viewer to define the photograph.
Don Antón will give a gallery talk at First Street Gallery on Saturday, February 7, at 4 p.m., free to the public. There will be Portfolio Reviews by Don Antón on Saturdays, February 14 th and 21 st from 2-5 p.m. Bring your artwork to the gallery and meet the artist.- free to the public. First Street Gallery is open to the public Tuesday through Sunday, from noon to 5 p.m. It is located at 422 First Street, Eureka, California. Admission is always free. School groups are encouraged to call ahead for tours. For more information, please call 707-443-6363 A public reception for the artist will be held during Eureka Main Street's Arts Alive! on Saturday, February 7, from 6 to 9 p.m.