The work of two artists born in Mexico is being celebrated at the Gallery at Chandler Center for the Arts in honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month.

“Ida y Vuelta: There and Back,” an exhibition featuring prints from Diana Calderon and photographs and paintings created by Oliverio Balcells, will be on display through Oct. 6 at the gallery, 250 N. Arizona Ave.

A public reception for the artists will take place from 6 to 8:30 p.m. on Sept. 8, also at the gallery.

National Hispanic Heritage Month, from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, brings awareness of the contributions of Hispanic and Latino Americans to the United States and celebrates their culture and heritage.

Balcells, 47, of Tempe, was born and raised in Guadalajara, Mexico, and he said his paintings and photos at the Chandler exhibit use “contrasting bold colors and things like nature and a little bit of history, ancient cultures, symbols.”

“It’s a mix, integration of the images and the colors, the mix of the many cultures that we have in Mexico,” he said. “I’m from Guadalajara, Jalisco, so I used to paint a lot of agaves.

“It’s the state that produces tequila. I go every other year with my family when I have a chance. I always carry a camera. I love taking photographs of the trips and bring it back and share.”

Balcells moved to the United States in 2000, first to Mesa and then to Tempe. He is heavily involved with arts in the City of Tempe.

Balcells was previously chosen by the City of Tempe’s Public Art Program to paint and design a utility box on Mill Avenue. That image was then converted into a library card for the Tempe Public Library.

Balcells also created a garden mural with Free Arts of Arizona and he was a chosen artist for the IN FLUX – Cycle 6 with the City of Tempe, painting a mural on Apache Boulevard. He also teaches children including with Chandler’s Vision Gallery’s VISION KIDZ Programs, Free Arts of Arizona and Childsplay.

“I like teaching,” Balcells said. “I like it because one of the reasons I create art is to inspire people. I do it because I like to inspire students, young kids through art. There’s no mistakes in art.

“You just want to be involved in the moment when you are creating. The kids are the perfect example of that because they just jump and do it.”

He received a bachelor’s degree in graphic design from Universidad del Valle de Atemajac in Guadalajara. Balcells said he takes workshops and classes to keep current with technology.

He is happy his work will be featured with Calderon’s at the Chandler exhibit.

“It’s an honor for me to have the invitation,” Balcells said. “I think she’s (Diana) a great artist. We complement each other.”

Calderon, 36, of central Phoenix, was born in Chihuahua City, Chihuahua, Mexico, and raised in El Paso, Texas. She earned a bachelor’s degree of fine arts from Arizona State University and has taken master’s of fine arts level classes in printmaking at the University of Dallas.

Like Balcells, Calderon also likes to give back to the community and help children.

She has taught at Mesa Arts Center and now teaches art at a south Phoenix charter high school and works as an elective curriculum coordinator for the same charter school system. Calderon recently finished an art residency in Guadalajara.

She said her printmaking is “mostly pattern and texture and I get inspired by my Mexican heritage and the pattern and texture that I see in the streets by traveling.”

“It’s been always very easy for me to create anything that was taught to me,” Calderon said. “I was always on to the next challenge.”

She said the prints she has created for the Chandler Center for the Arts exhibit are a combination of cloth, paper, thread and printmaking.

“I love going to Mexico every chance I get,” Calderon said. “We love our culture. We love culture and its conversations that Oliverio and I have had. We would love to take people to Mexico to experience all these wonderful, amazing things that Mexico offers. It’s just so rich in a lot of ways.”

She is also co-coordinating an exhibition called “Migrant Stories: Art Benefit for Kino Border Initiative” on Sept. 20 at The Sagrado, 6437 South Central Ave. in Phoenix.

The group show’s aim is to depict migrant stories in a dignified manner, with the goal of raising money for continued care of deported migrants and refugees.

“I love the community and I love helping people,” Calderon said. “I love using art as a tool.”

The Gallery at the Chandler Center for the Arts is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and from noon to 5 p.m. Saturdays. Admission is free. Information:

Article originally published by the East Valley Tribune