Pictures and words

Julieta Márquez and Iain Watson

Julieta Márquez and Iain Watson, walkin’ down the tracks.

Julieta Márquez and Iain Watson, walkin’ down the tracks.

Photo By brad bynum

An exhibition of paintings by Julieta Márquez and poetry by Iain Watson will by on display at the Sparks Library, 1125 Twelfth St., Sparks, starting Jan. 5. A reception for the artists will be held at 2 p.m. on Jan. 22.

Sparks Library

1125 12th St.
Sparks, NV 89431

(775) 352-3200

There are painters who sometimes write, singers who are sculptors, and poets who are wonderful chefs. But what if a painter and a poet exchange their artistic works in order to inspire each other and create new pieces? That’s what Julieta Márquez had in mind when she called Iain Watson and proposed the idea of working together. She will paint about his poems, and he will write about her paintings. The result will be a public exhibit in the Sparks Library.

One day, a few years ago, Watson, a local poet and musician, was looking at beautiful painted ladies framed in the foreground of a large canvas. They seemed to evoke subtle movements of their hands, profiles and necks. These muses hung from the walls of the Strega bar in an exposition called Femme Fatale. Iain knew nothing about the artist, just the cause that inspired the exhibition: to raise awareness about female reproductive rights.

Time passed, and one night Márquez connected with Watson’s melodic poetry. From a discrete corner of the crowd, her eyes witnessed the energy of the poetry slam while her ears traveled with the rhythm of Reno’s Status-FLO hip-hop collective. Later, Márquez and Watson met again, dancing in a downtown bar. They recognized each other and sealed their friendship. Ever since that moment, they started sharing their art.

A month before the installation of the library exposition, the temperature was cool, and the air was exceptionally fresh on the Java Jungle patio. There wasn’t any snow, and the sun illuminated the water of the Truckee River. Passersby were taking afternoon strolls, and a woman was singing at the top of her lungs, charging the air with a sort of Sunday madness. At that moment, Márquez appeared dressed simply in blue, carrying only her cell phone. Then Watson arrived, dressed in black with an Andean style bag slung across his torso. Immediately, they started interrogating each other. The data collection phase of their creative process was as follows: She had already shown him two paintings in progress; he took pictures of them with his phone then sent her two poems from his repertoire. They told each other as much as possible about their pieces and then, each in their studio with artwork on the table, they started experimenting.

Later, Márquez called him and asked, “What’s your favorite song?” Watson laughed because he thought Márquez hadn’t understood that in his poem “Remember,” the woman and the song he referenced are the same thing. In fact, Márquez understood perfectly, but it occurred to her that she could actually work with Watson’s favorite song, using the musical staff and literally putting the notes into the canvas.

For his part, Watson was working with a representation of the Virgin of Guadalupe. “It’s an ironic subject because the Virgin is a very potent figure in Mexican culture because she is virginal and pure,” says Márquez. But for her, it represents more. Her depiction of the iconic and sacred image is holding the ribbon that advocates for female reproductive rights. Given this, Watson acknowledges that he wants to sit down and research, confident that during this process he will find the right inspiration to be able to compose the poems that will accompany Márquez’s exposition.

The idea isn’t to create a painting that reflects an entire poem, or write a poem that encompasses everything that the canvas has to say. Besides being impossible, both know that they should look for something that clicks. That’s what Márquez and Watson are doing, creating exclusive pieces to click with anyone who passes through the Sparks Library.