Activate: Market Street Featured Artist Gladys Barker Grauer

Gallery Aferro recently announced a new role as curatorial liaison for Gladys Barker Grauer’s work at large, and we hope to keep sharing her work with the public for many years to come. This mixed media sculpture celebrates inventiveness both through the artist’s use of materials and the subject matter that inspired her to create this work in this manner.

In Grauer’s own words, “Artists are recorders of events, society, and the culture in which they live. My art expresses my reaction to and interaction with the struggle of all people for survival. This struggle is motivated by the optimism of beautiful people for their intellectual, financial, social, political, individual, and physical survival. I was inspired by the ingenuity of the urban homeless to convert corrugated boxes into mattresses, blankets, and insulation. Plastic bags became luggage, rain coats, rain hats, waterproof boots and grocery carts became treasure chests of accumulated wealth.”

Our own decision to pair Grauer’s piece with Alice Walker’s poem “We Alone” was done to inspire reflection and introspection as the end of the year draws near. Walker wrote “to love what is plentiful — as much as — what’s scarce” and at Gallery Aferro we know pushing forward that we need not look further than to the community around us.

At the time of exhibiting this artwork at the close of 2018, a homeless man could be found making home of a bench just down the block near the intersection of Market & Washington. The irony is not lost on us that he presents and maintains his belongings in a way that closely mirrors Grauer’s piece displayed in our window. He kept his things in plastic bags stuffed inside a shopping cart, he used cardboard to make a bed to sleep on during the day and covered himself with a plastic tarp like a blanket to break the chilly winter air at night. Grauer’s piece and Walker’s poem together are strong reminders for us to not become apathetic to the struggles of individuals we don’t know.

-Juno Zago, Registrar at Gallery Aferro

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