Heart & Soul at Tempe Public Library

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Tempe artists Mary Ann Rodriguez-Veatch and Gina Santi were strangers when they were paired up to collaborate on an exhibit at the Tempe Public Library.

The two women come from different mediums -- Santi, a photographer, and Rodriguez-Veatch, a painter. After seeing their exhibit "Heart & Soul," the pairing seems obvious.

The collection features photography Santi -- also a cultural anthropologist from Caracas, Venezuela -- has taken while traveling around the world with images of women in the Yucatán selling hipiles in the streets and of the sun rising at the House of Seven Dolls.

The vivid paintings by Rodriguez-Veatch, from Phoenix, project her feelings of family and culture through bold watercolors embellished with gold leafing. Her twist on classic images such as the famous photograph "The Kiss" is an attempt to show the audience the world as she sees it, she says.

We caught up with both artists, whose combined show opened last week at the Tempe Public Library...

Q: So you two met after you'd been paired up at the "Call to Artists" in Tempe?

courtesy of Mary Ann Rodriguez-Veatch

We'd never known each other, but we have hit it off. We've become really good friends, like sisters.

Q: Were you surprised when you two were matched?

Rodriguez-Veatch: She was surprised! I wasn't. I said, both of us are really focused on color and focus on things that are intimate -- festivities and family gatherings. We might be from different parts of the world, but we still have the same eyes and your heart is the same. We have the same passion for family. Even though we are totally different, we're both the same.

Q: How did you choose the pieces?

Rodriguez-Veatch: We thought of the time of the year, we have the Day of the Dead [in November], in September we have El Grito and then the other holidays coming up. In the Mexican and Latino culture, they focus a lot on the religious and we wanted to frame our inspiration.

courtesy of Mary Ann Rodriguez-Veatch

It was very difficult to put the exhibit together because she is painting and I'm photography. They ended up arranged like a roller coaster. It starts with the Virgen de Guadalupe and goes through religion and life and people and goes back to death, then back to the Virgen de Guadalupe. We chose churches and the Mayan culture in the Yucatán peninsula. [With] one of the pictures, the House of the Seven Dolls, we wanted to do something about the souls of the people. It's magical because the sun rises in that spot and the tribes that are around all start their drums at the same time. It's amazing.

Q: What inspired your love of photography?

Santi: I like to see how people behave their cultural manifestations, their dresses, their foods, their dances and we can combine all of these things in a melting pot. I'm inspired by what people do and what people say and this is my way of communicating the beauty of different cultures to the world and this community.

Q: What do you look for when you are traveling and you're trying to say, "This image would be a great embodiment of this culture."

Santi: I love markets because they are a place where people go to get their daily food and supplies and to discuss politics. You see the community rules and the ideal culture versus the real culture. I look at the people and the colors. In hispanic cultures, we are very loud and that loudness transfers to everything we do. The clothing, the music, the language and my colors.

The Tempe Public Library is at 3500 S Rural Rd. in Tempe. For more information, visit the Library's website or call (480) 350-5500. "Heart & Soul" will be viewable to the public until February, 2011.

courtesy of Mary Ann Rodriguez-Veatch

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