When I first became acquainted with the work of Elsa Riveros, it was through postings of The Moore Gallery and the attention that it had generated. The gallery became an outdoor sidewalk attraction in Alexandria, Virginia where passersby might happen upon it while strolling along. In the pandemic, this pop-up venue featuring original miniature paintings, drawings and sculpture provided a much needed public forum for visual art, and the tiny scale drew people closer together and brought them joy.
I clicked through Riveros' Instagram and was instantly attracted to her gestural portraits of people and animals. Most of her subjects were family members and well-loved pets, and they were captured in a way in which line suggested movement, emotion and viability. Political commentary, drawn out in expressive and often humorous ways, also attracted my attention, reminding me of portrait artists like Alice Neel and Rudy Shepherd. I loved how she employed different angles and compositional arrangement to further compel my interest. Her use of digital implements, Plasticene and Sennelier oil pastel crayons also intrigued me as they were used in innovative ways to represent her subject material either in a two dimensional sense or in a modified sculptural relief.
As I continued my dive into Riveros' pieces, I was blown away to discover her music career that spans almost 40 years. As the lead singer of the new wave band Pasaporte that was popular in the 1980's in Latin America, she is considered to be one of the most influential women of rock and roll in Columbia and South America.
You can watch Elsa on Episode 75 of The Large Glass which originally aired on February 1st, 2022.