Rubio’s Artpace exhibition, El Carreton (The Cart), reflects his interest in collaboration and community effort. Further expanding on the artist’s undulating, vibrant aesthetic, the installation is Rubio’s first exploration in three-dimensional form. This stylized representation of the inner city reflects the personalities of Rubio and his collaborators, as well as Chicanos across the country.
The sculptural focus of El Carreton (The Cart) is a large-scale, customized grocery cart. Created with local metal artist Luis Chispas Guerrero, the bulbous form appears to be melting into its angular wheels. This fantastical representation explores the alternate functions of grocery carts in the urban environment-as a mode of conveyance between grocery stores and homes for those without vehicles, or as a mobile storage unit for the homeless. By treating the cart as one would a prized vehicle, Rubio has inverted the socioeconomic implications of these lifestyles.
The curvaceous wall signatures, painted by San Antonio graffiti artist David “Shek” Vega and accented in brilliant neon by artist Cathy Cunningham, reflect Rubio’s careful study of color. With their graphic-heavy contour work, they depict both the beauty of street art and the vibrancy of muralismo (a style of mural art originating in Mexico). Here, the graffiti signature acts as an indicator of urban culture-suggesting the imagined inhabitants of Rubio’s environment.
The frozen motion of the wall tag is echoed in the physical curves of Rubio’s stylized fence and tire shop. Situated at the far end of the gallery, a structure in striations of vibrant red, yellow, and orange that was a collaborative effort with set designer Rudy Galindo, the building is reminiscent of Latino-owned tire shops found in cities across America. Inside, a video montage composed with Manuel Soliz and Adriana Garcia features images of numerous tire shops from the west side of San Antonio.
The accompanying audio loop composed by Phil Luna and Rubio combines barrio (neighborhood) noises with the sounds of the city at night. It juxtaposes blaring bus horns, the voices of young children, rattling spray cans, and barking dogs, with Dub, Tejano, and Conjunto music-expressing the multiplicity of urban Chicano culture.
El Carreton hums with activity: a colorful celebration of the vitality of the city’s Mexican American communities.
– Emily Morrison, Curatorial Assistant