Borderland Stories – A Visual Report from the Texas-Mexico Border

Monday, September 23 more dates through September 30, 2019

Antoinette Hatfield Hall 1111 S.W. Broadway, Portland, OR

Portland artist and Texas native Janie Lowe’s childhood memories of exploring the rugged landscape north of the Big Bend area are a stark contrast to the life, tension and loss there today. Her concern, frustration and curiosity sent her on a 2,000-mile journey along the entire southern Texas border to investigate the landscape for herself.

Borderland Stories – A Visual Report from the U.S./Mexico Border is a series of illustrative paintings that documents Lowe’s interaction with the people and environment as she traveled along the entire Southern Texas border, from Brownsville to El Paso.

The month-long art exhibition, funded in-part by a grant from the Regional Arts & Culture Council, opens in the Antoinette Hatfield Rotunda in Portland’s Newmark Theater Lobby on September 1. The public is invited to an opening reception Thursday, September 5, 5-7 p.m., featuring lively Latino music by Grupo Masato.

The exhibition, curated by Jessica Lagunas, creative director for IdeAL PDX and Arts and Culture coordinator at Latino Network, also celebrates the work of local representational and expressionist artists Arturo Villaseñor, Alex Valle and Alvaro Tarragó.  The collective of paintings will bring multiple perspectives of borderland stories. 

“I set out to share my observations of the landscape, such as water drops, personal items on barbed wire that people would be traveling with and leave behind,” said Lowe. “You get a sense that they’re running; there’s no time to get untangled from the barbed wire, so they just take the shirt off and keep going. Or it could be a sign for people behind them, saying, ‘this is the way’. These remnants of human life are very emotional.”   

Some of Lowe’s paintings are symbolic, like the roadrunners behind concertina wire. Border crossers identify with the Desert Southwestern bird species, whose distinctive X-shaped footprint has toes pointing forward and backwards, disguising the direction they are heading. Other paintings represent things she saw, such as chains wrapped around old tractor tires which border patrols dragged along the landscape in the evening so they can see any fresh footprints the next day.  

Lowe is donating 25 percent of the sales of Borderland Stories artwork to the nonprofits South Texas Human Rights Center, Sacred Heart Respite Center of McAllen and Border Network for Human Rights, El Paso.

Event Type

Art & Design, Exhibition, Free, Cultural Communities

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