Enrique 1 - need captionEnrique Martínez Celaya: Small Paintings

January 20, 2016 | View on Facebook

Even within the boundaries of a small canvas, a true artist can paint a story larger than life.

The latest exhibit at the UAB’s Abroms-Engel Institute for the Visual Arts, AEIVA does just that: from January 22 to March 19, Birmingham can behold 45 small, yet visually striking paintings by artist Enrique Martínez Celaya.

“In my view, Martínez Celaya is among the most powerful and prolific American artists working today,” says Lisa Tamiris Becker, director of the AEIVA and curator of this exhibit. “His work is both mysterious and enigmatic.”

Becker describes Martínez Celaya’s small painting format as “intimate,” for it compels the viewer to move in close in order to engage with each piece of art. From this close perspective, the artist’s focus on topics like memory, loss, coming of age, and love can emerge.

What makes this exhibit particularly interesting is how it depicts Martínez Celaya’s own journey as an artist, showcasing rare paintings he created as a young boy all the way to his current works. The Cuban-born artist has lived a storied life—from studying quantum mechanics in the 1980s and visual art in California in the 1990s—and his art serves as a visual timeline for his unique experiences.

Enrique 2 - need captionFor Becker, the opportunity to host the renowned artist’s work for the next few months is an exciting achievement for the Magic City.

“Martínez Celaya has becoming increasingly nationally and internationally known and is having exhibitions in major museums and galleries across the world,” she explains. “It is a huge honor to have AEIVA in Birmingham host this important survey of his small paintings.”

The exhibit “Enrique Martínez Celaya: Small Paintings 1974-2015” will be on display at the AEIVA from January 22 – March 19, beginning with an opening reception on Friday, 1/22 from 6-8 p.m. In addition to the two galleries featuring Martínez Celaya’s small paintings, the third gallery will feature five major large paintings by the artist.

The AEIVA is located at 1221 10th Avenue South and is open weekdays from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. and Saturday from noon – 6 p.m. Preview some of Martínez Celaya’s work in the photos below, and learn more about the exhibit at

Art credits:
1 – Enrique Martínez Celaya / The Fourth Angel, 2010 / Oil and wax on canvas / 30 x 24 inches / Private Collection, Ocean Ridge, FL
2 – Enrique Martínez Celaya  / The House (from the Sea) / Oil and wax on canvas, 2015  / 19 1/2 x 15 1/2 x 1 1/2 inches (framed) / Collection of Lydia Cheney and Jim Sokol, Birmingham, AL

Wk 2 - AEIVA exteriorIntroducing the AEIVA

November 9, 2015 | View on Facebook

Birmingham’s newest artistic hub is located right in the heart of the city: UAB’s Abroms-Engel Institute for the Visual Arts, AEIVA. Open since January 2014, the AEIVA has housed exhibits from internationally-known artists like Andy Warhol, David Maisel, and Willie Cole, as well as numerous local and regional artists.

“For some time, both community members and UAB faculty had a vision for a state-of-the-art facility in which to exhibit art on campus,” explains Lisa Tamiris Becker, AEIVA director. “This vision was exquisitely realized with the opening of the AEIVA.”

The AEIVA was designed by architect Randall Stout, a protégé of Frank Gehry. With its unique, post-modern exterior and open gallery space, the artistic nature of the building itself makes for a perfect canvas for showcasing global exhibits.

Lisa Tamiris Becker

Lisa Tamiris Becker

Becker explains that the AEIVA extends beyond its gallery showings to celebrate all things art and culture.

“The AEIVA presents lectures by featured artists, art history and curatorial lectures, and our Chamber Music@AEIVA series, which features live musical performances inspired by works in the galleries,” she says.

For Becker, the AEIVA is all about celebrating the arts, and it does so by presenting around ten exhibitions each year. Currently on display is David Maisel’s photography exhibit “Black Maps” and international poster invitational “The Right to Decide,” with even more unique exhibits on the schedule for next year.

“In 2016, the AEIVA will present three separate solo exhibits of Cuban and Cuban-American artists,” she says. “Together, this series will explore the diversity of cultural and aesthetic approaches to making art.”

With a dedication to providing Birmingham a mecca for exploring the best in local and global art, the AEIVA is poised for a brilliant future.

The AEIVA is open Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. and Saturday from noon – 6 p.m. Learn more about the AEIVA’s rotating art schedule and its current exhibitions by visiting its website:

David Maisel, American (b. 1961) Terminal Mirage 2, 2003 pigment print, 2012 48 x 48 inches A/P Image courtesy of the artist © David Maisel David Maisel’s Black Maps Exhibit

October 29, 2015 | View on Facebook

At first glance, you may think David Maisel’s vivid, oversized artwork is a collection of imaginative paintings. But Maisel’s work isn’t created with brushstrokes—in fact, each piece in his “Black Maps” exhibition is an aerial photograph of a U.S. landscape forever transformed by human and environmental impact.

“The haunting beauty of these photographs creates an aesthetic experience for viewers that is unparalleled,” says Lisa Tamiris Becker, director of UAB’s Abroms-Engel Institute for the Visual Arts, AEIVA. “These mesmerizing photographs are often mistaken for paintings due to their intense color and large scale.”

From mineral extraction to industrial water projects to urban sprawl, the effects on the landscapes Maisel photographs evoke both beauty and destruction. To capture each image, Maisel has flown in a small Cessna airplane over these locations to photograph their natural state.

Becker and her team are thrilled to host Maisel’s groundbreaking exhibit—which was featured as part of the evocative opening sequence to Season 2 of True Detective—at the AEIVA, where it is currently on display through November 14.

David Maisel 3“The exhibition has been on national tour, and we are excited to be able to include AEIVA as the final venue in the tour,” Becker explains. “David Maisel is an internationally-renowned photographer, and now Birmingham audiences have the opportunity to view his work.”

Showcasing Maisel’s “Black Maps” exhibition reinforces the AEIVA’s dedication to bringing regional, national, and international artists to Birmingham, giving our city greater opportunities to explore and appreciate global art.

Viewing the exhibit is free and open to the public, and the AEIVA is open weekdays from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. and Saturday from noon – 6 p.m. Learn more about his exhibit and the AEIVA at

Image credits:
(Top R):
David Maisel, American (b. 1961) | Terminal Mirage 2, 2003 | pigment print, 2012 | 48 x 48 inches | A/P | Image courtesy of the artist | © David Maisel
(Top L):
David Maisel, American (b. 1961) | Terminal Mirage 5, 2003 | pigment print, 2012 | 48 x 48 inches | A/P | Image courtesy of the artist | © David Maisel

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