On a quiet block of West Jefferson Boulevard lined with bridal boutiques, Quinceañera shops, thrift stores, and beauty parlors, a strange-looking bodega opened up last month. Four chip racks are scattered across a barren wall and half-stocked with oversized bags of Fritos and pork rinds. There are two sheer shopping bags, seemingly forgotten by their owners, destined to hang on the wall forever. There’s also a casual baby shower unfolding.
This is the world of Bronx-based artist Lucia Hierro, whose exhibition Objetos Específicos has made a mercado of the intimate Oak Cliff gallery Sean Horton Presents for the past month. The snacks on display are soft sculptures a la Claes Oldenburg—lumpy pillows mimicking the crumple of chips in aluminum, a two-dimensional tin of Carnation condensed milk. The artwork is a commentary on identity, culture, and the economic structures looming over it all.
The objects are a nod to Hierro’s Dominican roots and New York upbringing, but they’ve found themselves perfectly at home in Texas. Horton opened the gallery with the intention to bring in art that’s both internationally and locally minded, something he feels he’s achieved with the first two exhibitions, which were curated by New York-based Joseph R. Wolin.
“Both of the shows, Leo Gabin and the Lucia Hierro show, I feel like had a relationship both to Oak Cliff and other parts of the world. For example, Leo Gabin’s work, they’re fascinated with American Culture, specifically Miami, even though they’re Belgians,” says Horton. “So, Lucia is living in the Bronx and she’s making these pop art references to her local bodega or mercado, but yet I also felt they had this relevance to Jefferson Boulevard.”
It’s a fitting place to contemplate ideas of privilege and exclusion, in the heart of one of Dallas’ most culturally vibrant neighborhoods, just blocks away from Bishop Arts, where gentrification and development has rewritten its story with posh restaurants and trendy gift shops.
The baby shower at Sean Horton is portrayed through huge vinyl decals on another wall, flat images of a diaper cake, balloons, Coca-Cola, and wicker chairs. This piece is called “Anchoring,” a play on the derogatory term “anchor baby,” referring to children born to illegal immigrant parents in the United States. The two grocery bags hanging on the wall are also for the baby shower–filled with ingredients to make party food, crepe paper streamers, and plastic cups.
Even out of context, the bags are a vague portrait of their owners, a fleeting glimpse into private life. At the same time, there’s something very universal about it.
“She’s really synthesizing Warhol and Oldenburg, and then–bodegas,” says Horton. “To me, that was interesting, and I didn’t see anyone else doing that.”
This week is your last chance to see Lucia Hierro’s Objetos Específicos at Sean Horton Presents. The gallery is open Wednesday through Friday from noon to 5 p.m.