09242022 MCXT 319 1800x1200 1


ReflectioNNN, 2022

Silk flowers, reclaimed metal pieces, painted paper beads, wooden beads, vintage ribbon, stickers, rotating stripper pole, plywood, paint, colored tape, patterned vinyl, brass 

8' x 12'

ReflectioNNN is a visual recounting of our collective histories on the water. MCXT (Monica Canilao and Xara Thustra), delved into the MAH archives and connected with local artists and historians to illuminate the stories behind the early Venetian Water Carnivals of Santa Cruz. MCXT’s kaleidoscopic visuals and performances recall the grandeur of our region’s past festivals, while paying homage to the ecologies and First Peoples existing along these bodies of water. Their work reflects on and lifts up cultures that thrive along waterways around the world, creating a thought-provoking, visual experience that reflects on our complicated past and celebrates our present moment. The fantastical art vessel on view was performed on and first debuted at Capitola Beach in last year’s Nautical Parade, as a part of the MAH’s new CommonGround Festival.  

The Venetian Water Carnivals of early Santa Cruz were an annual spectacle held along the San Lorenzo River from 1895 to 1927. The event was based on the water carnivals of Venice, Italy to support the image of Santa Cruz as the “Florence of the West.” The carnivals featured elaborate floats and live performances that guests would enjoy from the bank of the river. These festivals drew crowds from all over the West Coast activating the riverfront before the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk opened in 1904. The last Venetian Water Carnival took place on the San Lorenzo River in 1927. Its legacy was later reimagined on the waterways of Soquel Creek in Capitola with the Annual Begonia Festival, which lasted 65 years. However, as climate conditions continue to escalate, these waterways are unreliable venues for such activities as we struggle to steward and salvage their biodiversity. 

In 2016, Monica Canilao & Xara Thustra combined their vision, talents, and activism to form a legendary creative partnership: MCXT. Their work is big in scale and heart. MCXT uses drawing, installation, murals, and other media to cultivate a sense of wonder and mindfulness that can help us see the infinite stories in and between people, objects, and ideas. The artists often sketch and paint over one another, layering their visions to create large scale artwork that challenges the viewer to step back and think about topics like love, self determination, one’s own stories, and others’ possible stories.