Maria José Arjona's talent is to infuse repetitive tasks with palpable meditative energy, to transform understated, even banal activities into metaphors that only become more touching as she repeats them.
For A Thousand Beautiful Things, she has arranged a variety of objects on a wide rectangle of sand on the floor: a roll of paper, a pair of binoculars, a brass bowl, a pair of high-heeled shoes, a bag of Café Bustelo, a sewing kit, and much more. For one week, she will walk through this rectangle with a ball of red ribbon, unrolling it with her hands and wrapping it around the objects with her feet. When she has wrapped each one, she will unwrap them, roll the ribbon back up into a ball, and start over. Viewers have been invited to add objects of their own to this work that likens life to a walk that must be made with appreciation and conscious balance.
A Thousand Beautiful Things is part of a show titled Art and Earth Enigmas at Damien B. Contemporary Art Center, which also features works by Edgar Carrasco and Ena Marrero. Carrasco's wall-hung sheets of copper have been patined, scratched, tarred, varnished, and burned. Despite the inventive handling of materials, the compositions are not adventurous enough to warrant prolonged attention.
Better are the sculptures of Ena Marrero, such as Charcoal Lotus Heart, which consists of chopped, dried lotus roots that have had their holes stuffed with matches, and a radiating pattern of logs upon which charcoal briquettes have been propped up on little sticks. The shapes are whimsical, even cute, but the materials suggest that the whole shebang could ignite.