Sam Frésquez: Second Place is the First Loser

29 November - 17 December 2022

Calderón is pleased to present Sam Frésquez: Second Place is the First Loser. This solo exhibition showcases new work produced during the artist's residency at CALA Alliance as the 2022 Regional Artist in Residence. This is the artist’s first solo show in New York City and will be on view from November 29 through December 17, 2022.

At its core, Frésquez’s practice is linked to the dichotomy of public versus private. Their work interrogates the social arrangements that structure gender, sexuality, and the intimacies of private life. Frésquez asks us to consider the ways that we present ourselves to the outside world and how this public presentation might differ from our private experiences.

In Second Place is the First Loser Frésquez responds to issues of vulnerability and resilience through the lens of gender, themes that have recurred in the artist’s work. The exhibition examines the rigid  and hyper-masculine culture surrounding NASCAR through performance and sculptural installation. Frésquez first began working with this subject in a previous series in which she introduced the fictional character, “the first Latina NASCAR driver.” In past performances the character is seen in iconic postures of celebration, such as spraying champagne or waving a flag. 

This exhibition is focalized around five new beaded artworks: two driving fire suits and three racing flags. These fire suits—sturdy, thick, and rigid—are employed by drivers for protection. The racing suits seen here, hung on the wall until the next race, are scaled to fit the artist yet represent the fictional “first Latina NASCAR driver.” Frésquez has adorned each suit with colored glass beads. These have been methodically placed to create familiar patterns such as flames or surprising slogans like “YASCAR”—drawn from a corporate branding campaign by NASCAR to celebrate Pride Month. 

The exhibition’s title is taken from a quote popularized by racecar driver Dale Earnhardt. Embracing a sense of contradiction, Frésquez takes on this divide between winners and losers to explore ideas of durability and vulnerability. The beaded artworks are at once strong and fragile, functional and decorative. Taken as a whole, Second Place is the First Loser complicates the rigidity of such binaries and asks the viewer to imagine new societal arrangements that might structure our lives.

―Alana Hernandez