Americons

Art to love and hate the U.S. by

Look out for the 22-foot blonde with the boob job!

She's part of Phoenix artist Hector Ruiz's room-size installation Westernization, a tragicomic take on America's image in the world, and part of his "La Realidad (Reality)" show opening Friday, July 1, at the Heard Museum.

"America is so appealing to the rest of the world," Ruiz says, as he puts the finishing touches on the papier-mâché über-blonde in his un-air-conditioned Grand Avenue studio/gallery The Chocolate Factory on a recent 110-degree afternoon. This is a man unafraid of sweating for his art. "But the things that are appealing are so in your face, so harsh."

Hector Ruiz gives us another way to see "Reality."
courtesy of Heard Museum
Hector Ruiz gives us another way to see "Reality."

Details

Opens Friday, July 1, with a free wine-and-chocolate reception from 6 to 8 p.m. Admission is free on opening night, and costs $5 to $10 afterwards. The exhibit runs through March 2006. Call 602-252-8848.
Heard Museum, 2301 North Central Avenue

Like the King Kong blonde, who clutches a tiny, hapless businessman in her manicured hands. Misogyny? Nah, because no one in this tableau comes off as noble. Not the lasso-wielding Dubya-esque cowboy straddling the airplane piloted by Jesus. Nor the Stetson-hatted Hoss who sits behind him, clutching a missile as if it were a spear. Not even the Statue of Liberty gets off Ruiz's hook. In his version, Lady Liberty's foot is raised as if she's about to kick the shit out of the huddled masses yearning to be free.

Ruiz, 34, says his take on his native land comes from spending two years abroad and experiencing a sort of reverse culture shock when he returned home. He says he could suddenly see Americans the way the rest of the world sees us. "There's this arrogant American [persona] that comes across as stubborn and unbending," says Ruiz.

"La Realidad (Reality)" includes 21 pieces of Ruiz's work, including block prints, mixed-media pieces and woodcarvings. There will be some interactive pieces, too, so you'll be able to touch the art, which is always more fun than just looking at it while a museum guard gives you the stink-eye.

 
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