Victor Maldonado's "Mad Mex" photo series finds him exploring his community in the guise of his luchadore-masked alter ego.

Victor Maldonado’s “Mad Mex” photo series finds him exploring his community in the guise of his luchadore-masked alter ego.

Courtesy of Victor Maldonado

This week we’re listening to a guest-curated episode with multi-disciplinary artist Victor Maldonado. He’s has been making art, curating, and helping younger artists in Portland for close to two decades.

This summer is a busy one for Maldonado — he’s in the process of collaborating with Tariqa Waters (of Seattle’s Martyr Sauce Gallery) to curate the NW Art Now biennial for the Tacoma Art Museum. He’s getting new work ready for a solo show at Froelick Gallery in November and continuing the MadMex series that plasters his masked alter ego all over Instagram and Facebook.

For this August 2014 episode, we turned our show over to Maldonado. He suggested stories, places and people for us to check out. We loved our time with him and the things we talked about have only grown in relevance. Given the news of the week, it felt right to ask him to come back into the studio to reflect on what’s changed in four years.


"Before I make anything, let me make a self." Multi-disciplinary artist Victor Maldonado.

“Before I make anything, let me make a self.” Multi-disciplinary artist Victor Maldonado.

Dave Blanchard

Guest Curator Victor Maldonado — 1:17

Maldonado’s parents were migrant workers and he crossed the U.S.-Mexico border many times as a kid. He told us how that upbringing set his path as an artist. We also visit Maldonado at home with his to kids and wife, Anna Joyce, a designer and textile artist with her own vibrant practice (ready to kickstart your summer project plans? Try her book “STAMP STENCIL PAINT”). Galleries Charles Froelick tells us what attracted him to Maldonado’s work and what he’s observed developing on Maldonado’s canvases, and in other media.


Master printer Frank Janzen finishing up several prints for the artist James Lavadour at the Crow's Shadow Institute of the Arts.

Master printer Frank Janzen finishing up several prints for the artist James Lavadour at the Crow’s Shadow Institute of the Arts.

Aaron Scott/OPB

A Visit to Crow’s Shadow — 5:22

Maldonado is one of the hundreds of artists who’ve expanded their practice at Crow’s Shadow Institute of the Arts, the printmaking facility just outside Pendleton on the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation. Founded by painter James Lavadour in 1992, it’s a place where artists learn to make prints that can help subsidize their practice and offer new creative outlets for their ideas.

We tagged along as Maldonado spent time with then-master printmaker Frank Janzen. At that time, the Institute had just hired a new executive director, Karl Davis. Since we first made this story, Davis has made good on promises of new directions, including a pop-up gallery during Pendleton’s Round-Up, hiring Judith Baumann as the Institute’s new master printer, and overseeing a touring exhibition representing 25 years of art-making at Crow’s Shadow.


The Invisible College — 16:22

Maldonado turned us onto an idea he says has been fundamental to his work: an Invisible College of peers, allies, and friends. We pick up the thread with some of the people who make up his creative cloud.

  • Artist and poet Lisa Radon explains the concept for us.
  • Namita Gupta Wiggers was, at the time we talked to her, director of the Museum of Contemporary Craft in Portland. PNCA has since closed the Museum. But she continues to lead the influential Critical Craft Forum, and now directs the MA of Critical and Historical Craft Studies at Warren Wilson College in Asheville, North Carolina.
  • Jen De Los Reyes, a leader in social practice, has left Portland to become Associate Director at the School of Art & Art History University of Illinois at Chicago.

 Sean Joseph Patrick Carney with this week's guest curator, Victor Maldonado. Sean was Victor's TA for a time at PNCA.

 Sean Joseph Patrick Carney with this week’s guest curator, Victor Maldonado. Sean was Victor’s TA for a time at PNCA.

April Baer/Oregon Public Broadcasting

Sean J Patrick Carney — 24:07

Victor Maldonado has worked with hundreds of students over the years, including the explosively-creative Sean Patrick Carney. A contributor to publications like “Art in America” and Vice, his podcast, “Humor and the Abject,” is hands-down our favorite contemporary art podcast. As artists explore ways to make relevant, sustainable work that doesn’t necessarily live on gallery walls, Carney runs miles ahead of the curve. Old hands on the Portland art scene might remember the time a Carney character panned a Victor Maldonado show. We got the two of them talking about what followed.


Andrea Telles (left) Elizabeth Leon (center), and Blanca "Stacey" Villlalobos.

Andrea Telles (left) Elizabeth Leon (center), and Blanca “Stacey” Villlalobos.

Courtesy of Pochas Radicales.

Elizabeth Léon — 35:25

Underestimate Elizabeth Léon at your own risk. When we first talked to her, we knew she’d turned to Victor for advice on an art world that didn’t seem to have a place for brown girls. What we didn’t know was that she was on the verge of finding new gears of engagement with the collective Pochas Radicales. She and Andrea Telles are still working together on community-scale projects.


Surviving the Times — 42:17

What’s an artist to do in times when audiences are in a perpetual state of shock? We finish the show with a conversation we recorded with Victor this week to talk about the forms his own work is taking.