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Fight Night

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Lucha Libre, matadors and bullfighting ... oh my! Pero, no te precupes ... no actual bulls will be harmed in Matadors and Luchadors—an art show devoted to the culture, spirit and passion behind traditional Spanish bullfighting and Mexican wrestling held at Candelabra Gallery.

Colleena Hake, who owns the art space, came up with the idea for the show and compiled the work of local artists in varied forms, from performance art to paintings. "I have always found the iconography to be very provocative and intense, and I thought it would make a stunning art show," Hake said.

The show will be a busy mesh of artwork, music and performances. The art will be distributed throughout the wood-floored gallery, with the front room being dedicated to bullfighting and matadors and the second room to luchadors and Lucha Libre wrestling. Music spun by DJ Bombshelter will fill the inner walls of the gallery; within the sandy landscape of the back courtyard, Rita Braga and Chris Carlone will play live music amid the bougainvillea bushes and stucco walls.

Work from eight different local artists including Hake will be shown or performed. Art includes luchador masks, multimedia pieces, nearly life-sized paintings and depictions of both male and female matadors and luchadors. Hake enjoys the fact that despite the machismo in Latin and Spanish culture, female characters are present within the art.

Multidisciplinary artist and UA graduate Paco Velez—who grew up in Nogales, Sonora—has been painting for 12 years and doing performance art for five. His work is usually border-related, and he will be contributing a performance character and paintings to the show. Gabriel Ruiz, also a native of Nogales, created the flyer for the show and is displaying his art. The medium for his work consists almost entirely of found art supplies, from gallons of house paint to acrylic paints and dirt.

"I don't spend that much money on my products," said Ruiz. "I have never bought a canvas at Michaels or any art store before, because I find them. Like in alleys. Two times I found some big ones."

Hake's own art will be displayed inside as well as in the back courtyard alongside the mock performances of bullfighting and Mexican wrestling.

"I had an art car called Car-delabra; it's not running anymore but I actually have the trunk decorated to be like a matador and luchador sign. ... So my friend helped me cut the trunk off so I can bring that down and put it out back," said Hake.

The performance pieces and the artists who perform them are a little more mysterious. Guests can expect to see such characters as "El Toro Blanco" and "El Matador" facing off in the courtyard, as well as "El Perro Espectacular."

This is not the first eccentric and colorful show at Candelabra Gallery. You might recognize the space from The Totally Rad PhotoRadar Show where submissions were compiled from those poor souls who had the misfortune of being nabbed by photo radar for speeding or red-light running. Hake also hosted a Michael Jackson art show on what would have been the singer's 51st birthday. The show featured Jackson-themed art from 15 artists. Candelabra also spent some of its past life as a seedy dive bar.

Matadors and Luchadors is intended to convey the color and la fuerza of both Mexican and Spanish culture.

"They risk death for their art. I don't condone bullfighting per se, but I think the fashion and the culture are beautiful," said Hake.

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