Being walked through artist Loretta Gonzalez's new series of paintings is like exchanging introductions at a dinner party for savages. "This is Dena Schlosser from Plano. She cut the arms off her baby," says Gonzalez, expanding a photo of the painting on her iPad. Next we meet Gilberta from Hudson Oaks, who hanged her four children in a trailer park closet. Then Deanna Laney, from New Chapel Hill, who stoned her two sons. And Angela Camacho, from Brownsville, who opted to decapitate her offspring.
Loretta Gonzalez "Otty Sanchez"
This gritty lesson in filicide would be unbearable if Gonzalez's paintings weren't so damn charming. Frosted full of pastel tones and well-appointed dollhouse interiors, these are still shots of playful, domestic moments. Each stars a young girl, clad in mary janes, hair bows and fluffy, crinolined dresses, and aside from the harm she's doing to her collection of teddy bears, everything here seems to be in order. Go ahead and chalk those misdeeds up to precocious innocence. Never mind the girls' vacant eyes.
Those haunting tells are made clearer through each picture's back story. As you read it, the mood shifts. Told primarily through oils, Gonzalez uses her pigtailed protagonists to recount actual homicide cases -- many out of Texas -- in which mothers snapped and murdered their kids. It's called I Love You to Death, and it opens this Friday at ATAMA.More »