The thought-provoking nature of “Faded Manners”

Hamline’s Soeffker Gallery announces a new artist residency with Alonzo Pantoja.

Reagan Clark, Life Reporter

The Soeffker Gallery in Drew Fine Arts Center features a temporary exhibit by artist Alonzo Pantoja. (Chetha Ny)

If you happen to enter Soeffker Gallery between now and Nov. 18 you will be greeted with Alonzo Pantoja’s “Faded Manners.” 

The exhibit includes a few thoughtfully placed installations with beautifully dynamic color schemes. 

A queer and brown artist and educator, Alonzo Pantoja, created these colorful pieces. Alonzo earned his MFA in Fiber and Installation from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design and his BFA in Painting and Drawing from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. 

He has participated in shows in spaces such as the Arrowmont Gallery in Tennessee, Yours Truly in Wisconsin, the Minneapolis Institute of Art in Minnesota and various others. He currently lives in Minneapolis where he teaches at Augsburg University, Minneapolis College of Art and Design and the Textile Center.

As you walk into Soeffker Gallery you are greeted by a few pieces meticulously placed around the room. Viewed from a distance, these pieces appear to be melted wax that has dried into layers of complementary colors. 

A walk through the gallery quickly reveals that yarn and strings are the primary materials of these works. Yarn and string consist of several various fibers both natural and synthetic. This leads you to reflect on how intricate each of Alonzo’s works truly is. 

There is something so simple about these fabrics, yet they contribute so much depth and complexity to the exhibit. What is it he is trying to tell us? There are several perspectives to which he can link his artwork. 

One of the things that each of the art pieces evokes is the beauty of a sunrise. The vibrant colors, including pinks and oranges, are similar to those you’d see in the early morning sky. Several blues and greens are also used, representing the earth just starting to be touched by the rising sun. This  sunset-like color scheme is emphasized by each strand.

It is a visually harmonious arrangement of materials that appear out of place yet remain cohesive. As if it is the art that makes beauty by falling apart, each piece of material encapsulates a sense of calm even as it appears barely held together. 

A different perspective, one of life, is also provoked. 

Chetha Ny

In its entirety, life is a work of art. The journey is filled with heartache, joy and everything in between. The diversification of each piece is representative of all the strands, stitches and patterns of life. Like life itself, each strand varies in size, color and texture.

The artwork of Alonzo can easily express the journey of life. This causes viewers to wonder whether this journey is Alonzo’s own, maybe his journey of establishing himself as queer. Perhaps it is an expression of feeling out of place, as if you’re made of scraps or barely holding on to yourself. It’s just like the different types of yarn are held together by a virtually invisible thread. 

As you weave this journey through the various strands of life, you create a stunning work of art that others will admire. Now, we have that opportunity through the beautiful and profound “Faded Manners” exhibition at the Soeffker Gallery.

The Soeffker Gallery is located in Drew Fine Arts Center and Alonzo Pantoja’s work will be exhibited there until Nov. 18. You can also find more of Alonzo’s work through his Instagram @cilantro.cutie.