Stephen Alarid, Patricio Córdova and Cel Ruibal

Pirate Contemporary Art

April 8 - 24, 2011

  • Opening Reception: Friday April 8th from 6-10pm
  • In the associates gallery: Jeff Hersch
dot painting (untitled) by Patricio Córdova

Jeff Hirsch at Pirate - photo by Ken Hamel/

Pirate Contemporary Art
3659 Navajo St
Denver, CO 80211
Fri: 6:00 - 10:00 PM
Sat/Sun: Noon - 5:00 PM

photos by Ken Hamel/

(from the press release)

About Stephen Alarid: Stephen Alarid seems to have had art in his blood since birth, constantly drawing figures and designs as a child. His high school art teacher encouraged him to pursue art and those efforts succeeded in Alarid winning a scholarship to the Rocky Mountain College of Art & Design where he graduated in 1987. Alarid is the recipient of the “Innovation of the Arts” award from the Colorado Federation for the Arts and the prestigious Pollock-Krasner Foundation award in 1997.

Alarid has been a member of Pirate, A Contemporary Art Oasis since 1987. At Pirate Alarid became a close friend with Dale Chisman who also served as his mentor, encouraging Alarid to do less figurative work in favor of an abstract approach.

Now Alarid’s abstract works are known for their brilliance of color, incredible variation in design elements and an energy and movement reflective of the way he approaches putting paint on canvas. His art works are conceived intuitively with subjective forms, shapes and lines resulting in dynamic images that draw the viewer in.

In addition to new works created for this show Alarid will also exhibit paintings and drawings from his long career of twenty-four years of exhibiting as a Denver artist.

To contact Stephen Alarid for more information, please call 970-904-1279 or e-mail Alarid at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

About Celestino “Cel” (Sal) Ruibal: Celestino “Cel” Ruibal has been making art ever since he was a kid, drawing and making things out of wood and metal. He has been creating images in stained glass since 1970, having completed well over a thousand pieces.

For the show at Pirate Ruibal has created six windows ranging from abstract to ornithology, to Egyptian scenes, a woman by a window looking out at the Eiffel Tower, and Joan of Arc. Ruibal will also show a kaleidoscope of his own design.

Ruibal first became interested in stained glass in college where he studied medieval history. Later he traveled to Europe where he lived for a year-and-a half, visiting numerous cathedrals and a glass works in Holland. On his return to Denver Ruibal saw an ad in the paper for a beveler and began working in a studio for a summer fabricating stained glass windows. He worked for Wild Rose Studio in 1974 and for a time at Cherry Creek Enterprises on 10th and Santa Fe. Ruibal says he always had a regular job and did stained glass as a hobby rather than as a business. He gave away most of the pieces he made. However, Ruibal started making stained glass full-time two years ago after getting into an automobile accident.

Ruibal’s style is a mixture of Victorian and contemporary. People in Denver know Ruibal’s style simply from so many years of making windows. Drive around Denver with Sal and he’ll point out a window here and there along the way saying, “I did that window in such-and-such a year”, filling in details about the piece, the owner of the house, etc.

Ruibal is also somewhat of a “fixture” of the Día de los muertos (Day of the Dead) tradition at Pirate, showing at least one window per year ever since the inception of the event in 1983. The calaveras (skeletons) incorporated in the work are noted for their anatomical accuracy in addition to a flair for design and play on themes having to do with death, with some images having hands or other parts of the body showing each bone and joint in detail. To recognize Ruibal’s dedication to Día de los muertos and the excellence and quality of work, Pirate awarded Ruibal the “Lifetime Achievement Award for Día de los Muertos” in 1998.

Ruibal has also won other awards for stained glass including the Design Award for Stained Glass at the Botanic Gardens in 1984.

Ruibal’s fascination with medieval history has resulted in an interest in medieval armor. He has made over twenty jousting helmets and two complete suits of armor.

To contact Sal Ruibal for more information, please call 720-763-0976.

About Patricio Córdova: Patricio Córdova is an artist, musician, writer, photographer, educator, cultural advocate, native of Colorado and brain-injury survivor.

In May, 2001 Patricio was involved in an automobile accident and sustained a brain injury (PTSD Post-Traumatic Symptoms Disorder; concussion, brain lash, closed head injury, etc.). Córdova says his life was “turned upside down”. He suffered through an array of symptoms including memory loss, dizziness, headaches, nausea, sleep disorders and blackouts, disorientation, panic attacks, emotional overwhelm, aphasia and difficulties with hearing and vision, among other things. As a result of the accident Patricio was unable to hold the kinds high-profile administrative positions he had been previously accustomed to. He eventually had to sell the house in west Highlands he had lived in for over twenty-one years, then bought, renovated and sold a house in Pueblo, moved for a short time to Spokane, Washington and then returned to Denver.

This show is Patricio’s first major exhibition since his brain injury. “It’s part of my recovery process,” Córdova says. “I felt I had to produce a major body of artwork to demonstrate that I can still do some of the things I used to do. I’ve had a few shows since the accident and each show has been a stepping stone, but the work for this show is not only the best work I’ve done in my life, it’s also the greatest number of pieces I’ve completed for any show, prior to my injury or not, and I’ve also done work in oil, acrylic, watercolor, gouache and tempera and in an array of styles just to demonstrate what I’m capable of.”

For this show Córdova has created a series of abstract paintings he calls “dot paintings”. The “dot paintings” grew out of: an interest in Australian aboriginal art after producing a show of Australian aboriginal art from Alice Springs, Australia for Charlie Winter of Walcha, Australia in 1995; an art workshop with Michelle Cassou at Palomas de Taos in New Mexico where he first worked flat on the floor because of the crowded conditions in the work space and first began incorporating dots into the design, mostly because of the drips and dots that resulted from the media and cramped working situation; Córdova’s interest in physics and mathematics; and influences of people like Jackson Pollock, Stephen Alarid and others who have pursued unorthodox means of applying paint.

Córdova has executed these pieces “in the round”, laying them flat on a table and rotating them or walking around them as he worked. They are abstract, reminding some people of macro images such as those from the Hubble Space Telescope or photographs taken from the air, or micro such as what might be seen through a miscroscope or through various types of spectrometry which enable one to see at molecular and subatomic levels. Córdova says, “Since the pieces were not created from any one orientation they are intended to be viewed from any perspective; so each piece has two wires in the back, one horizontal and one vertical, which can be easily adjusted by sliding the wires after loosening the screws, so each piece can be hung four different ways. When you buy one piece you’re actually getting four, i.e., by one get three free. If you want a change, just hang the piece differently.” Córdova will change the orientation of some pieces during the run of the show but not on opening night. Córdova says these works are “ . . . probably the best work I’ve ever done. The colors, movement, depth and intensity are incredible. People find all sorts of different images in the pieces depending on their own perspectives or experiences. I think they’re mesmerizing. People who have seen the pieces so far have called them dazzling, amazing and incredible or have used superlatives to describe them. To me, the best thing about the pieces is that you can look at them forever and not get tired of them.”

Córdova emphasizes that these works have nothing to do with Vance Kirkland. “People say that all the time,” says Córdova, “but when they first brought it up I had to confess ignorance since I didn’t even know who Kirkland was. After that I visited the museum and enjoyed the work but Kirkland’s work comes from a different conception and utilizes a completely different approach in applying the paint and executing a painting.”

Córdova has also created a series of oil pastels, the medium for which he was best known prior to the accident, and works on canvas based on memories from his childhood and other catalytic moments in his life or aspects of his familial and cultural history, including aspects of his experience with a brain injury.

In addition, Córdova has produced a series of “makeovers” in which he laughingly says he “. . . bought pieces at yard sales, ARC, Goodwill or wherever . . . “ and went about “ . . . improving or desecrating them depending on your perspective . . .” by painting directly over them. “It seemed to me, for example,” Córdova says, “that in some cases the artists painted in watercolor and I couldn’t figure out why. The colors were muted or maybe the image suffered during the printing process so I figured I could help the piece out. It seemed like the piece cried out for more color, a different palette. So I tried to improve the piece at the risk of offending the original artist. Who knows? Maybe somebody will sue me and I’ll get a lot of publicity for my trouble.” Córdova wryly added, “And believe me, I know how much trouble a lawsuit is. Especially when you’re a brain injury survivor. Please don’t sue me although I could use the publicity!” Córdova credits Alarid for originally introducing him to the idea although Alarid usually left much of the original “as is” for the viewer to see. Córdova says, “I’m somewhat compulsive/obsessive so I started out with the intent of saving some of the original as Steve did, but I always ended up obliterating the whole thing.” He adds, “You ought to try it! It’s great. It’s not quite paint-by-number but it’s a good study. I learned so much by seeing in some small way how other artists work and the pieces were relatively fast so I can sell them for a song!”

Patricio’s ancestry goes back through southern Colorado and northern New Mexico dating to the early 1700’s and reaching Mexico City, New Spain in the 16th century. Patricio’s grandparents (both maternal and paternal) were among the first settlers of southern Colorado; his great grandparents were among the earliest settlers of Taos, New Mexico. Among his forebears are: Lucía de Montoya who owned the land in Albuquerque that is known as “Old Town” today; Juan Páez Hurtado, personal aid to Don Diego de Vargas, lieutenant general and governor of Nuevo Mexico and founder of the Fiestas deSanta Fe in 1711; great grandmothers, Maria Martinez (paternal) and Dolores Lujan (maternal), both of Pueblo Indian lineage from northern New Mexico.

Patricio attended Holy Family elementary school and graduated from Holy Family High School in 1967. Patricio attended the University of Notre Dame, the University of Colorado at Denver and the University of Colorado at Boulder, receiving his B.A. with a major in music from Colorado College in 1977. As a recipient of the Thomas J. Watson Fellowship for Independent Study, he traveled to Spain, studying guitar construction and performance as well as art and architecture. After returning to the United States, Patricio attended the University of Michigan where he received the degree Master of Musicology with an emphasis in Ethnomusicology. Following completion of these studies, he attended graduate school at the University of Texas at Austin, studying art and architecture.

Patricio worked in Denver and Colorado for over thirty years to promote Latino arts and culture. He received the Denver Mayor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts in 1985 for his work as Executive Director of CHAC (The Chicano Humanities and Arts Council) and produced numerous institutes and workshops for teacher training, as well as many special events and cultural celebrations, most notably inaugurating the first and longest running Día de los muertos (Day of the Dead) celebration at Pirate, A Contemporary Art Oasis in 1983, an event he produced for fifteen years. (Día de los muertos is now widely celebrated throughout Denver and Colorado by schools and educational, art and religious institutions.) In 1985, Patricio worked with Michael Crane, Dolores Atencio and Jerry de la Cruz to curate and produce Imagenes: A Survey of Chicano Artists in the State of Colorado at the Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities, the first major art exhibition in Colorado at a major venue to feature works by Chicano artists. (The event, sponsored by KUVO Radio, broke all records at the Arvada Center for opening night attendance, educational tours and publicity garnered.)

Patricio has exhibited and performed throughout Colorado. He was formerly Instructor of Music in the College of Music at the University of Colorado at Denver where he taught the first World Music course offered in institutions of higher education in Colorado. Patricio was also Project Director for SUMMIT (Scholars United for Multicultural Inquiry In Teaching) at the Public Education Coalition where he worked with 14 schools in five school districts in the Denver metro area to infuse multicultural arts and humanities into the curricula; the three summer institutes in object-oriented learning and cultural immersion which Patricio produced in cooperation with the Denver Art Museum, the Denver Public Library, the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, the Colorado Historical Society, the Children’s Museum, the Black American West Museum, The San Luis Museum and Cultural Center, the Ft. Garland Museum and the Sangre de Cristo Parish in San Luis, were lauded as models for teacher training. Patricio was also formerly Manager of the Hispanic Education Advisory Council of the Denver Public Schools where he worked on development of a variety of programs to improve academic achievement among Latino students, authoring the grant for creation of “Alma de la Raza” (Soul of the People), a Latino studies curriculum and professional development project for grades ECE-12 adopted and now being implemented by the Denver Public Schools.

Patricio has designed and built musical instruments for his own performances, and has produced numerous art exhibitions, concerts, conferences, institutes, workshops and other cultural celebrations in the Denver metropolitan area and across the state.


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