Picasso was known to scribble on napkins and sell them to clients in the various restaurants and pubs he would frequent. Arthur Laffer, professor of business economics at USC, wrote the key points of Reaganomics on a cocktail napkin while talking to Donald Rumsfeld. Intellectual and artistic experiences that have helped shape the world around us can be born onto the most mundane and utilitarian grounds.
Crumbs aside, napkins are a cherished material for one of San Antonio’s premier minimalist painters, Louis Vega Trevino. His floor-to-ceiling hanging of 1,816 paper napkin ink drawings at Fl!ght Gallery, titled IT SCARES ME TOO: Louis Vega Trevino’s Napkin Obsession 1995-2013, pulls from 37 shoe boxes full of drawings, draping them over a series of near-invisible fishing lines affixed to the wall by white pushpins, with napkins waving rhythmically in the air like Tibetan prayer flags.
Trevino renders meditative, seductive line drawings; amoebic shapes mix with eclectic contemporary designs. Some are colored-in, others remain pigmentless. Some are whimsical; others are more hard-edged. He mixes soft, colored pieces with bright designs that seem to vibrate with color convulsions.
The sheer girth of the exhibition makes it a battalion of strength, but the floor-to-ceiling exhibition simultaneously deters and strengthens the individual drawings. The intricate details of certain designs lend themselves to a more intimate environment, and they need more space for viewing, not blocked in by rank-and-file neighbors.
Armed with a background in design and architecture, Trevino’s pattern-friendly motifs on napkins have been the initial stages of carpet designs for the new Convention Center in San Antonio, and a tile design for a high-end home tile company. Six of his designs were enlarged tenfold and used as building facades in San Antonio’s Main Square Plaza.
Although the exhibition references the last 18 years, Trevino admits that most of the drawings are from the last 3 or 4 months. He can do 40 to 50 in one sitting.
It Scares Me Too will be on view at San Antonio’s Fl!ght Gallery through September 9.