Sugar Rush is a solo exhibition of paintings on paper by Puerto Rican artist Eduardo Cabrer.
The show includes 18 largescale works featuring nostalgic sweets and treats. Necco Wafers, Blow Pops, Bazooka Bubble Gum and Sugar Daddys hold court throughout the gallery, according to a news release from ATELIER. The opening reception will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday at ATELIER, 104 E. Center St., Warsaw.
In depicting mass-produced commercial candy products, Cabrer uses line, color and hand-lettering to transform the infinitely repeatable into the individual. The result is unique crinkled wrappers and tangible sticky sweetness — what Cabrer terms “visual triggers” designed to engage viewers and their memories, stated the release.
Cabrer’s artistic process begins with subject-dictated control and boundaries but grows looser and less confined as the work progresses.
“At some point in the process, I step back and force myself to let go,” the artist says. “I close my eyes and remember being a kid … we were free back then. It is then and only then that I can let go and make the artwork mine.”
Cabrer’s ties to the sugar industry are geographic and familial. Indeed, the bubblegum-infused “Blow Pop” launched his current work’s direction. The “Blow Pop” originated in Ponce, Puerto Rico, at the Ponce Candy Company, a division of Charms Candy. Jesus Alicea, a Ponce Candy production manager, claims to have invented the lollipop out of necessity in 1947. When other fillings were not available, Alicea instructed his team to put bubblegum in the Blow Pop’s center to maintain their manufacturing schedule.
The Puerto Rican sugar industry is one of the oldest in the Western Hemisphere, begun when Spanish colonists transplanted cane from the Dominican Republic and established a sugar mill in the mid-1500s. A longtime economic engine for Puerto Rico, the island’s sugar industry produced 12.5 million tons of sugarcane from more than 400,000 acres and processed over 1 million tons of raw sugar at its peak in 1952.
“My great-grandfather worked in the sugar industry, and my family has been tied to the development of sugar for four generations,” Cabrer said. “I guess this work is also my way to be involved with sugar. I think it’s interesting that I find myself exporting sugar goods to the northern states.”
ATELIER director Sea Grandon first encountered Cabrer’s work at Aqua Art Fair during Art Basel Miami in December 2022.
“I was immediately drawn to these large-scale, colorful works, with their unique combination of recognizability and hand-drawn virtuosity,” Grandon said. “Cabrer’s booth was spectacular, and he sold out the show during art week. I completely succumbed to the sugar high and knew I had to both collect his work and show it at the gallery.”
Grandon says it is easy to label Cabrer’s work “pop,” but she is reluctant to do so.
“While the linkages to Pop Art are evident, there is something more here,” she said. “These works are evocative, tactile, and emotional. Something like Pop Expressionism seems a more apt description.”
Sugar Rush is open throughout the holiday season, and Grandon says the show will be an idyllic outing for family and friends this winter.
“The fun and nostalgic beauty of this show is undeniable,” she said. “I hope that art and candy lovers of all ages will come see this exhibition. Visiting Sugar Rush at ATELIER is a fantastic excursion to take with guests and relatives and a fun respite from the holiday madness.”
Sugar Rush opens today and runs through Dec. 30. ATELIER’s holiday hours are Wednesdays and Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.