TAFA: The Textile and Fiber Art List

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Aynex Mercado: Puerto Rican Sunshine in Paducah

If you are coming to Paducah for the quilt show this year, you might end up at the Texaco Station (7th and Madison) in the heart of Lowertown, the City's Artist Relocation Program.

Inside, you just might find Paducah's piece of Puerto Rican sunshine, Aynex Mercado, who can give you all the ins and outs of what to see in Lowertown. Aynex was so good at bringing people together, organizing events, making things happen, that the City made her official and hired her to help visitors find their way around.

Aynex was the first person I met when I came to Paducah. She's this tiny little thing with a giant spirit. She suffered an accident several years ago which affected her mobility. She moves slowly and carefully, but with determination. She welcomed me and introduced me to several of the artists in Lowertown, walking with deliberation from house to house. I grew up in Brazil and lived in a Puerto Rican neighborhood in Chicago for twenty years, so I was thrilled to have another Latino representative here in Paducah. (There are not many of us...)

A couple of months after I moved here in 2005, Aynex started a fiber art group, which I joined. We meet monthly, a highlight and source of great support for me. Aynex is a quilter, just one of her many talents:

It's been said that great gifts come in small packages. Well, this little Puerto Rican got more than her share of talent! Aynex has also become a graphic designer, a film maker and an actress. Her blog, Que Es Lo Que Pasa Aqui? has a video log of work, including an invaluable collection of interviews with Lowertown artists and life in Paducah. Here is a short where she interviews Caryl Bryer Fallert of Bryerpatch Studio, world renowned quilter and a must visit stop during the quilt show:

My favorite, though, is "A Stroll in the Park", a silent movie made in collaboration with other LowerTown artists. This movie was made for Aynex's 29th birthday where she truly became a star! The viewing and blessed event (Aynex's birth) was celebrated at the Maiden Alley Cinema where LowerTown artists and friends turned up in 1930's costume.

The party was captured on film as well:

Aynex has a gift. She brings people together, bosses them around, gets them to do things that they will remember later as a time when they really lived. She is a ray of sunshine. Sadly, though, Aynex is leaving Paducah in May to go back to live with her family. She states in her blog:

"Yes, you heard correctly. I'm leaving Paducah. I need a new hip and a new life which could be a hipper life. I have mixed feelings about the move. I am sad and excited and nervous all at the same time. But change is always a good thing. I have met some great people here and this place will always have a special place in my heart. Everyone has given me so much and I'm a better person than the person that came here four years ago. Has it only been four years? I am a much better artist, I know a lot more about design and have many things to add to my portfolio and hopefully get a job somewhere. I started making videos and did some funny things. I am the class clown. I had my first real job. I almost got my license. Still working on that. But most of all what Paducah has given me is confidence in myself. We'll see what that confidence does in the real world..."

Paducah can be a challenging place to live. There are not many jobs and it's hard for a diva to find a good man. Mary Thorsby of IList Paducah, interviewed Aynex when she was featured as hot date of the week:

IL: So Aynex, what’s the dating scene like in Paducah?
AM: I don’t know. You’re my first date in 10 years. And who would have thought that my first date would be with a woman?

IL: Yeah, sorry about that. A married woman, too. Maybe this column will help you attract more suitable suitors.
AM: I hope so. I’m ready.

IL: What are you doing to get yourself out there?
AM: I’m thinking about going to the Twenty Thirty Group. I just need someone to go with.

IL: I’ll go with you! Except that I’m more like 20 plus 30. Minus seven. Are you only interested in dating other artists?
AM: No, he doesn’t have to be an artist. Just someone with a job.

Sorry, Aynex... Mary did try...

Aynex will have a good-by show, "Adios Paducah" at Aspire Arts Gallery in May. Meanwhile, don't forget to make a stop at that Texaco Station... it will be a grey day in Paducah soon, so get the sunshine while you can!

Aynex's Etsy Shop

1 comment:

  1. Oh wow Rachel! That was so nice of you. We have to get together some time soon.


“Sing like no one's listening, love like you've never been hurt, dance like nobody's watching, and live like it's heaven on earth.”

“Whatever you say, say it with conviction.”

(Both by the master, Mark Twain)

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