First Things First

Lately, it's been hard to throw a rock through a plate-glass gallery window or museum front door without having it bounce off the canvas of some stellar example of a painting by a native Mexican artist. Noted Latino art has seeped into the Dallas Museum of Art and Adani Gallery, among others, with a parade of textbook-quality paintings and sculpture by noteworthy artists including Diego Rivera, Frieda Kahlo, Francisco Zuñiga and Nicolas Moreno. Now the Bath House Cultural Center is opening "Primera Luz" or "First Light," featuring a small survey show of the career of 71-year-old photographer Mariana Yampolsky. Funny, she doesn't "sound" Mexican.

She is and she isn't, and that's Bath House's twist on the Mexican art parade. Yampolsky is a Chicago-born, non-Hispanic woman who fell in love with the art of Mexico in the 1940s, traveling there to study a decade or so after Rivera's and Kahlo's heyday, when Mexico City's art scene was still celebrating. Today, she is a Mexican citizen whose oeuvre captures the people--women, children and families mainly--of her adopted country with a decidedly smitten sensibility.

Yampolsky won't be attending the Dallas opening of her show for health reasons, but curator and Bath House visual arts coordinator Enrique Fernández Cervantes will be there to discuss the artist's work. Cervantes' moving essay on Yampolsky is included in the "Primera Luz" catalog. "I am from Mexico, too, and I had seen her work in museums there," Cervantes says. "Her work really captures the everyday man and woman, the country people. That essence of wanting to connect with them in her work was very attractive."


"Primera Luz"

Bath House Cultural Center, 521 E. Lawther Drive

Through May 26. (214) 670-8749

If you make it to the opening Friday, May 11 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., take note of the classically composed, aching "La Ciega" (The Blind Woman) and Yampolsky's tender use of light in "Caricia" (Caress). All photos are gelatin silver prints.


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