efren alvarez // "efrenave"
ABOUT THE ARTIST
EfrenAve, was born in Michoacan Mexico. He immigrated to California in 1990 where he started a new life. In 2000 he started to take art classes at Foothill College, since that day EfrenAve has painted non-stop. He uses traditional oil and water based mediums to convey highly satirical and comical imagery surrounding issues of the borderland between the US and Mexico, as well as everyday experiences. His figurative paintings have captured the attention of many Bay Area collectors in recent years, for his ability to filter away the morass surrounding border politics to arrive at distilled images of humanity and truth. He has exhibited at MACLA, San Jose, Sanchez Art Center, Pacifica, Gallery 2902 in San Jose, and other local and national venues. He is part of the We Are You Project, traveling show.
When EfrenAve noticed that each mango had a stamp he thought about making something with them. The mangoes are been used to make a Mexican dessert call Mangoneada, in his brother’s business “Paleteria Los Manguitos.” One day while playing with the stamps EfrenAve realized that his father was interested in playing with them too, perhaps as a distraction from his recent leg amputation that condemn him to a wheelchair, a very rude reality for a men who spend all his life on the mountains. At that time EfrenAve saw the opportunity of making something creative and sharing quality time with his father. He picked the Mandela design for its spiritual healing qualities, very appropriate for the moment. While working with the stickers EfrenAve noticed how each one had a story to tell. There were some stamps telling passages of his father life, others were telling the stories of the mango orchards around their town, or of the mangoes that grew in their own property, of all the mangos that they ate and the ones that they never got to, because they where uneatable.
EfrenAve also noticed that each stamp was telling the story of each customer that was consuming Mangoneadas, daily stories that go from the nostalgic to the comparison, the nostalgic of the chili hot and sweet flavor able to transport them to their roots. Stories of comparing which place make the best Mangoneadas in the area. But more than anything else Efrenave realized stamps also told the story of all those working in the mangoes’ orchards. The mangoes are hand pick one by one so each label tells the story of a working hand and perhaps tired hands. Those hands living under the poverty line earning minimum wages, since most mangoes come from Mexico, Central, and South America where many times the minimum wage would not be enough to buy a Mangoneada.
Each stamp tells the story of a proud artist for his artwork, of a successful entrepreneur, of a tradition of wide quantity of flavors that is still alive, and of a satisfied palate. But it also tells the story of a hungry child, of a young man without much future, of a tired old man, and of a family struggling to survive in marginalized communities. A stamp really tells the story of many.