“We would chase wild burros and ostriches for sport. They were experts at running through sand dunes, so we would chase them until my father sensed they were tired. Then he would look at me to signal to move in and lasso them. I was also expert at the slingshot. (Partridges) would fly in straight lines so we would chase them to the river, then line up to take shots where our dogs could retrieve them,” he recalled.
Rios left the Andes to attend the Academia Nacional de Bellas Artes in Buenos Aires and to teach at the National University of Buenos Aires. Then the mountains called him home to a job at the National University of Tucuman until, at age 30, he had an epiphany.
“I realized I wanted to be an artist, not an art professor. I had to leave the Andes to do that. So I moved to New York City,” he confessed.
Artistically, Rios never left. All his work, from early collages about colonialism to his latest videos have been rooted in Andean wistfulness.
“Because of where I come from, I work with wide open spaces, not walled in spaces like Europeans. That makes sense - Catamarca is larger than Spain,” Rios explained.
Curator Gilbert Vicario titled Rios’ current Des Moines Art Center exhibition “Walkabout,” after Nicolas Roeg’s film.
“In that film, Australian school children become lost in the desert and are rescued by an aborigine boy on his walkabout. Miguel’s work provides similar guidance, to cultures that have been spiritually lost since 9-11,” Vicario explained.
In “Ni me busques…No me encuentras” (Don’t look for me, you won’t find me), Rios and his cinematographer take an hallucinogenic voyage on peyote through a Mexican desert. After observing a seven piece band and escaping a train, the artist enters an adode house like the one he grew up in. He hears “the sound of my mother baking bread” before the house divides itself elusively.
Michael Watson’s “Familiar Faces,” at Fluxx Gallery, includes 100 portraits… Yoshitomo Nara’s “White Ghost” in Pappajohn Sculpture Park was named a “Top 20 Acquisition of 2011” in Antiques and Fine Arts… Dario Robleto’s exhibition at Des Moines Art Center was named “Top 2011 Exhibition New Yorkers Won’t See” by Guernica.