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Dallas artist Giovanni Valderas pays tribute to his mother and the working class at the Nasher

‘Grit/Grind,’ his piñata-like re-creation of a childhood car, is on display 24/7.

Dallas artist Giovanni Valderas stands next to one of the pieces of his project called Casitas Tristas on Fort Worth Drive in Dallas in 2018.  He creates small houses to call attention to the lack of affordable housing in Oak Cliff, the neighborhood he grew up in.
Dallas artist Giovanni Valderas stands next to one of the pieces of his project called Casitas Tristas on Fort Worth Drive in Dallas in 2018. He creates small houses to call attention to the lack of affordable housing in Oak Cliff, the neighborhood he grew up in. (Nathan Hunsinger / Staff Photographer)

Dallas artist Giovanni Valderas planned to continue exploring the theme of gentrification after drawing attention to Dallas’ affordable housing crisis with his sad piñata houses in 2018. He was going to use the same fringe and cardboard techniques for a used car dealership installation. The ambitious project never came to fruition, but it morphed into something more personal.

“Grit/Grind” is on view 24/7 through Dec. 6 at the Nasher Sculpture Center’s “store gallery,” the store space currently repurposed as a window display for local artists. Valderas re-created the first car his mother bought when he was a child, a 1986 Nissan Sentra.

“We went everywhere in that thing,” Valderas says. “It was a freedom, but not a traditional 1950s nostalgia freedom. It was freedom from public transportation and dependency on rides from people.”

“This work is a tribute to my mother,” he adds. “Without her struggles, this car would never have been made and put in a museum.”

At first glance, Valderas' new work looks humorous and celebratory, like a piñata. But it has a missing wheel and temporary tags. He says it also addresses “Dallas' inability to do anything substantial for the working class.” The title references the toll of the daily grind on people who sat in their cars for several hours waiting to be tested for the coronavirus and spend a significant amount of their lives commuting to work, if not driving for a living.

“People ask me if there is candy in the car,” Valderas says. “But it’s just filled with empty promises from this city. Dallas isn’t being developed for working-class people, but we’ve been holding down this city and doing the jobs that need to be done for quite some time.”

Details

Artist Giovanni Valderas’ “Grit/Grind” is on display 24 hours a day through Dec. 6 at the Nasher Sculpture Center’s “store gallery,” the store space currently repurposed as a window display for local artists. 2001 Flora St., Dallas. For details, call 214-242-5100 or visit nashersculpturecenter.org.

At first glance, Giovanni Valderas' new work looks humorous and celebratory, like a piñata. But it has a missing wheel and temporary tags.
At first glance, Giovanni Valderas' new work looks humorous and celebratory, like a piñata. But it has a missing wheel and temporary tags.(Kevin Todora)

Jeremy Hallock, Special Contributor. Jeremy Hallock is a Dallas freelance writer.

artslife@dallasnews.com
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