DIY local exhibition ‘Problem Gallery’ debuts this weekend

Work by Elena Hernandez-Peña and other Marfa artists will debut this weekend at Problem Gallery. Photo courtesy of Brenden Cicoria.

MARFA — This Friday, local DIY project “Problem Gallery” will debut at 718 West Waco Street from 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. with an accompanying pizza party by Cloudy’s Desert Bistro. The project brings together nine local artists, some of whom are Marfa household names and others who have never shown work before. 

Curator Brenden Cicoria is currently hard at work installing the show and getting the space ready for friends and neighbors to celebrate local work. “It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a long time after visiting DIY galleries — small, hole-in-the-wall kinds of places where people were bringing together people from the community,” they explained. 

Cicoria found it especially important to showcase pieces by folks who have to work hard to scrape together a living in Marfa. “A lot of people I know work their asses off 12 hours a day and then somehow find two hours more to work on some sort of practice,” they said. “I really love that and I find it super inspiring. I wanted to lend my skills to my friends and help them show these amazing things that they’ve been working on — I feel like we’ve all been laboring so long at the will of others.”

The ephemeral gallery will be hosted in a residential home — a living room, to be exact. The space is a work-in-progress, but Cicoria has been putting the finishing touches and cosmetic repairs to make it a truly magical and polished event. “It seemed like the perfect little intimate space on my favorite side of town — over by the Chinati Castle — around all of these Marfa lifers,” they explained. 

Highlights of the show include a debut by Cicoria’s partner Elena Hernandez-Peña — who has “never shown work, ever ever,” by her telling — as well as work by more established Marfa makers like Cody Barber. Adam Stacey, Harry Crofton, Jacquelin Zazueta, Mackenzie Goodman, Mortiz Landgrebe, Tina Rivera and Zak Ziebell round out the lineup. “There’s so much work here in Marfa that’s tucked away in studios or in peoples’ closets and it’s really special to see all that and to see stuff that’s breaking the mold,” Cicoria said. 

Though Cicoria is putting in a lot of the legwork to open the space up to the public — juggling the gallery install with a demanding freelance schedule — they insist that the project is collaborative, one that each featured artist has influenced in their own way. “I just wanted to have a space where we could all come together as a community and celebrate these contributions to the world,” they said. “I don’t want to be corny, but it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy — to be able to support these people that I love and care about very much feels really special and memorable and rewarding.” 

Problem Gallery’s opening pizza party will be held from 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Friday. The gallery will also be open through the weekend from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.