Art Coffee Project #4 set for Thursday

The Art Coffee project continues in Downtown El Paso, this time as a belated birthday and happening for Media Artist Willie Varela. Known as Art Coffee #4 will be on February 18th at 8pm at Joe Dorgan’s new bar called The Press (410 E. San Antonio Ave) next door to The Tap in downtown El Paso.

Varela will screen his collection of films recently produced as a two-DVD set titled “Video Art by Willie Varela, Vol. 9,” by the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center, Chicano Cinema and Media Art Series. He will also be selling his DVDs for $15 and we will raffle two of his signed DVD sets.

Varela is a nationally recognized film and video maker and photographer. His has shown his work at the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Museum of Modern Art and the Anthology Film Archives in New York City.  His archives are housed at Stanford University.

Art Coffee is a Facebook group where art is discussed and debated.  Postings are limited to arts and art making. When possible, the group meets to discuss art face-to-face.  Guests are invited to act as speakers, so they can talk about their work and/or other art issues.

Varela is a prolific and noted Super-8 filmmaker, programmer, and advocate. In the 1970s and early 1980s, Varela’s extensive public programming as founder and director of SWAMP-El Paso (Southwestern Alternative Media Project) became the subject of a bitter censorship struggle, receiving national attention.

Since the mid-1980s, his work has become increasingly political and since 1992 he has turned to Hi-8 video as well as narrative. Throughout his career, Varela’s work has explored social space and cultural identity from the perspective of a deeply historical understanding of both experimental film/video and Chicano culture in South Texas. [Source: Online Archives of California:]

Varela started making Super 8 films and taking 35mm photos in 1971.  Cameras were bought courtesy of the 1970 Census, which he worked. His first major exhibit was held at the San Francisco Cinematheque in the spring of 1976.

Other highlights include a one-person show at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1988; videos in the 1993 and 1995 Whitney Biennials; a full retrospective of his work in film and video at the Whitney Museum of American Art in the Spring of 1994, curated by Dr. Chon Noriega from UCLA; inclusion of several films in a show called “The History of Super 8,” presented at the Museum of Modern Art in the mid-90s; selected as an International Artist in Residence by Artpace in the summer of 2004, which resulted in a multi-media show called “Juxtapositions” ; another major show which included video installations and large photographic prints sponsored by UTEP in 2003 called “Crossing Over” that subsequently traveled to Art Space in Dallas, San Antonio, and Austin.

Varela’s current activities include having five of his Super 8 films being preserved by Anthology Film Archives in New York (, to be followed by a series of lectures and screenings there with the artist in attendance (currently scheduled for late spring 2016).

He is also currently working with Dr. Scott Baugh, Associate Professor of Film Studies at Texas Tech University in Lubbock on a book on his work and career that to be published by the University of Texas Press in Austin, Texas.

Links to Varela’s work:

Art Coffee #4, Thursday, February 18, 2016 at

The Press Bar, 410 E. San Antonio Ave. (next to the Tap), El Paso, Texas  79901