I needed one more artist who had a dog (and if possible his/her partner) for a Village Voice shoot to accompany a piece for the paper’s 1998 gay pride supplement (which ran headlined “Doggie Style: Queer Poets and Artists Salute Their Significant Canines”).
Babette suggested her friend, painter Manuel Pardo, and he and his partner, Medardo Clavijo, and “the girls” (four chihuahuas: Daisy, Lily, Rosie and Chiqui) agreed to join the group. I’ve only had a handful (pawful?) of shoots since then that have come (sit, stay) close to being as much fun. It was a joyful day.
After the shoot, I often ran into Manuel, Medardo and their pups in our neighborhood. And then I didn’t (although I was often reading about and seeing Manuel’s work) and then in the way that it is with the hubbub and whirl that’s New York, time passed and when I got a postcard in May announcing a show this summer in Provincetown, I realized that I hadn’t seen them in years.
Checking out the website for the gallery–Gary Marotta Fine Art–and clicking through to the shows section, I had trouble making sense of “memorial exhibition” and a link to an obituary by David Frankel which ran in the Huffington Post in May. Manuel had died last November, after a brief illness, survived by Medardo and (as Gary, Manuel’s long-time dealer and close friend, said when we met in the gallery last week) lots of chihuahuas.
Manuel’s work looks beautiful, all but taking over the front room of Gary’s bright, calm space. Included are his portraits of glamorous women with their bee-stung lips and sultry almond eyes (often recalling his beloved mother Gladys), urns, roses (which his mother had grown) and landscapes of his native Cuba (which he had left with his older sister in 1962, during Operation Peter Pan, an unsanctioned emigration from the country, organized by the United States and the Catholic church).
David (an art writer and editor–I’m not and don’t even play one on this blog) describes Manuel’s work: figurative painting “in bright but subtle colors that he saw as culturally related to his Latino background…he embraced a flowery decorativeness in his work, which at the same time looked back to a decorative history in modernist art in which the primary figure was Henri Matisse…and all of Pardo’s work was informed by his gay sexuality.”
“The Solstice of Manuel Pardo” at Gary Marotta Fine Art, 162 Commercial Street, Provincetown, MA, continues throughout the season. Another show of Manuel’s recent work will open at the gallery on August 30 and 31 and run through September 13.