Spooky Art Season: Lore Art Exhibit at &gallery features creatures from diverse cultures

The Third Annual Lore Art Exhibition at &Gallery on 4th Avenue is now open to the public. As one of the most popular shows of the year, it offers artists a way to express their culture through their art. This year’s theme was “Creatures” and the artists understood the duty.

Curator and owner of &gallery Cynthia Naugle talked about the origins of the show and its importance to artists.

“The first year we did [the Lore Art Show] we really saw how big it was. The idea came about wanting to do a Halloween show, like something spooky themed,” Naugle said. “My cultural background is Chicana, and I grew up with scary stories and folklore; it’s built into me and my culture. I thought it would be a cool way to show the diversity in Tucson and with the artists because each artist does a piece based on their own personal culture.

Including Naugle, there are three employees who help put the shows together with outside help.


“We made sure to curate it very carefully to show diversity and do it with respect,” Naugle said. “We anticipated it was going to be crazy and very busy because it’s probably our biggest show of the year… It’s cool that Tucson is showing up and supporting artists.”

Kayla Ballesteros’ play entitled “El Cucuy” is inspired by the folklore that was told to her when she was a child.

Kayla Ballesteros was one of the artists who had his piece on display. His piece was a rendition of the Mexican boogeyman known as Cucuy. Ballesteros was inspired by Spanish folk stories her father and uncle told her about the creature.

“What my Tata told me [the Cucuy] is it either a man that has been turned into a demon or a demon that looks like a man,” Ballesteros said.

Ballesteros’ support for his piece was digital. This allowed her to encompass the beauty and creepiness of the story in her eyes, as she had shapeshifting qualities based on the stories she was told.

“I’m half-white, half-Mexican, so I feel like a lot of my pieces are inspired by the duality of my culture. I’m influenced by both American culture and Mexican culture,” said Ballesteros.


Melissa Yee’s piece titled “Remember Me” was a tribute to her ancestors.

Melissa Yee was another artist who exhibited her work with an altar piece attached, as her piece was a tribute to her ancestors. Yee was inspired by the trips she took to the cemetery as a child to visit relatives.

“My dad is Chinese and I grew up with my grandmother who used to go to the cemetery all the time to do family traditions,” Yee said. “There’s something called ancestor worship where you go to the graveyard, leave offerings for your ancestors, and nurture them in the afterlife.”

Yee’s medium was Indian ink and acrylic for her piece as it is a portrait of her grandmother when she was in her mid-twenties.

“I’ve been in art since I was little. I had a studio art program when I was in high school, then I went to [UA] in their visual communication program. I ended up doing graphic design, but my first love was painting. So I’ve always been active in art,” Yee said.


Jason Pederson’s piece titled “Eelissa, The White Lady” was inspired by a myth of a lake near his hometown.

Jason Pedersen was one of the rare artists to have used wood as a support to exhibit his work. Pedersen’s play was based on a myth he had been told growing up.

“It’s the story of a woman who lost her child by drowning in a nearby lake where I grew up. She was forever haunting this lake looking for her daughter,” Pedersen said. “Depending on who’s telling the story, sometimes she was really spooky and sometimes she was really terrifying.”

Pedersen is a tattoo artist by day, and when he created this piece he found a way to make it more interactive for the viewer by using white graphite on wood.

The Lore Art exhibition is open to the public until October 30 and the gallery is open every day of the week from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.

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James C. Tibbs