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ALL ABOUT MY MOTHER: Those who didn’t make it down to Miami last week still have a chance to fit some art viewing into their social calendar. On Wednesday in New York’s SoHo, Alex Kramer and Daniel Baker are hosting cocktails to celebrate “The Life and Works of Manuel Pardo.” Born in Cuba and raised in New York City since the age of 10, Manuel Pardo’s color-saturated works have been shown everywhere from the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York to the K.O. Gallery in Mexico City. Next year, Pardo, 57, will be the subject of a retrospective at the Main Art Gallery at Cal State Fullerton in California. Growing up, his single mother, Gladys, worked as a factory laborer to support his family. When Pardo turned 40, he decided to immortalize her in his art with an ongoing series called “Mother and I.” His canvases show glamorous women in late Fifties- and early Sixties-style clothes, surrounded by decadent objects and sumptuous decor.
“Financially, I couldn’t get her a great gift, so I decided to bring her into history with me because she was responsible for me being who I was. The work itself is about her time period. I give her in the work everything she did not have in real life: the gowns, the hairdos, the lavish surroundings, the shoes, everything,” explained Pardo, who has known Baker since he interned for him at age 16 (Baker’s father collected Pardo’s paintings).
The pieces on display Wednesday are from his last year and a half of toil, including “Stardust Drawings” made with layer upon layer of Sakura glitter pens and a recent chartreuse-hued collection called “The Envy Works.” And if any of the patterned, curve-hugging dresses his women wear seem appealing, good luck hunting them down. “I don’t research anything — it’s all from my imagination,” said Pardo.
“Truthfully, I’m a frustrated fashion designer. But I fell in love with painting.”