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VOLUME 10 NO. 1 FALL 2012

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VOLUME 10 N0.1 FALL 2012



9 Interview with

E. Carmen Ramos

Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Curator for Latino Art


El Museo del Barrio’s September 25, 2012 - January 27, 2013 Permanent Collection Estampas de la Raza: By Rocio Aranda Alvarado

Contemporary Prints from the Romo Collection at the McNay Art Museum in San Antonio, Texas.

COVER: Luis Manuel Ruiz, The Mess and the Magic, 2005. Screenprint. Collection of the McNay Art Museum, Gift of Harriett and Ricardo Romo.

19 Spaceport Americas: National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago By Paloma Martinez-Cruz

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Thank you! The National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures extends our appreciation to the 8th NALAC National Conference funders for their generous support and commitment to the Latino arts community. Gracias!

VOLUME 10 N0.1 FALL 2012

STAFF Executive Director María López De León Deputy Director Adriana Gallego Operations Manager Frances Guajardo Marketing & Community Outreach Rosa María Saldaña-Bayram National Conference Coordinator Ruth Buentello Development & National Gabriel Magraner Conference Intern

BOARD OF DIRECTORS Chairperson Charles Rice-González

B.A.A.D. Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance - Bronx, NY

Vice Chairperson Maribel Alvarez, Ph.D.

The Southwest Center University of Arizona - Tucson, AZ

Treasurer Ernest Bromley

Bromley Communications - San Antonio, TX

Executive Director María López De León NALAC - San Antonio, TX

Carmen Castellano

Castellano Family Foundation - Saratoga, CA

Evonne Gallardo

Self Help Graphics - Los Angeles, CA

Abel López

GALA Hispanic Theatre - Washington, D.C.

Jennifer Mendez

Mattie Rhodes Center - Kansas City, MO

Christine Ortega

Southwest Airlines - San Antonio, TX

Rosalba Rolón

Pregones Theater - Bronx, NY

Anthony Garcia

El Centro Su Teatro - Denver, CO

F. Javier Torres

The Boston Foundation - Boston, MA


Consultant, Former Executive Director, Bronx Council on The Arts - Bronx, NY

Tomas Ybarra Frausto, PhD.

Arts Scholar and Consultant - San Antonio, TX

Alma Martinez

Assistant Professor, UCSC - Santa Cruz, CA

Richard Cheech Marin

Hollywood Actor and Art Collector - Los Angeles, CA

Gilberto Cardenas, PhD.

Inter-University Program for Latino Research, University of Notre Dame - Notre Dame, IN

Jesse Borrego

Hollywood Actor - Venice, CA

Danny Rivera

Musician/Composer - Cayey, Puerto Rico

Janet Rodriguez

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Consultant, Former Director Global Philanthropy, JPMorgan Chase - New York, NY

Kathleen Pavlick

Consultant - New York, NY el AVISO Publication Design

Adriana M. Garcia & Rigoberto Luna


Reflecting on NALAC’s 23 years of advocacy and support for the national Latino arts and cultures community, l took a bird’s eye view at some of our achievements by the numbers. • Eight National Conferences • 12 Leadership Institutes • 26 Regional Arts Training Workshops • 200 Institute Alumni • 300 Grants to the Latino arts field • 1.2 Million Distributed via NALAC grants Our commitment to Latino arts and to our communities is what continues to drive NALAC to carry out programs and services that strengthen artistic production, increase access to resources and opportunities, and propel Latino leadership in the arts. This issue of El Aviso highlights two Latino museums, an interview with Dr. E. Carmen Ramos about the Latino Collection at the Smithsonian American Art Museum and a glimpse of the Latino print collection at the McNay Museum. Rocio Aranda guides us through El Museo del Barrio’s permanent collection of approximately 6,500 objects of Caribbean, Latino and Latin American art and she provides insights on creating and maintaining a collection. Educator and writer Paloma Cruz Martinez tells us about the establishment of the National Museum of Mexican Art as a ‘launch pad for exploration of new space’ to not only house works of art but promotes social transformation. Dr. E. Carmen Ramos, curator for Latino art at the Smithsonian American Museum, tells us about the broad collection that reflects the life of Latinos across the Americas and talks about the exhibition planned for 2013. The Estampas de la Raza exhibit currently on view at the McNay Museum in San Antonio, features contemporary prints from the collection donated to the Museum by Drs. Ricardo and Harriett Romo. The collection features 60 prints by 44 artists ranging from the 1960’s to the 2000’s. NALAC takes great pride in the creativity and diversity of the Latino arts field and this issue of El Aviso provides a survey of some of this work.

vision statement:

The National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures (NALAC) envisions a cultural landscape that fully values and integrates the essential contributions of an expanding Latino arts field and its dynamic workforce.

mission statement:

The National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures (NALAC) is the nation’s leading nonprofit organization exclusively dedicated to the promotion, advancement, development, and cultivation of the Latino arts field. In this capacity, NALAC stimulates and facilitates intergenerational dialogues among disciplines, languages, and traditional and contemporary expressions.

value statement:

NALAC is led by a dedicated group of individuals who share a core set of values. This group includes a national board of directors, national office staff and national advisory council, all committed to:

advocacy - providing a strong voice for arts and culture in all its forms and manifestations for Latinos regardless of ethnicity, religion, age, gender, sexual orientation and physical abilities

empowerment - improving the severe under

capitalization of the artistic communities of color in general, and the Latino arts community in particular.

equality - voicing our repudiation to all forms

of discrimination, including but not limited to: racism, sexism, ageism and discrimination against gay, lesbian, transgender, physically challenged and undocumented populations; • promoting the importance of multilingual and multi-ethnic environments that incubate the creation of art • promoting and disseminating cultural initiatives by Latino artists, arts organizations, cultural workers, scholars and other sectors engaging the broad arc of artistic and cultural contributions to the creative cultural economy by Latino artists

María López De León Executive Director

ethics - guiding our business practices by

a strict set of principles that reflect fairness, inclusivity, collectivity, and transparency in all endeavors

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engagement - promoting, valuing and critically


Préfète Du_aut, (b. Cyvadier, Haiti 1923; lives and works in Jacmel, Haiti), Harbor/Vue de Jacmel avec le pont de Noël/ Puerto/Vista de Jacmel con el puente de Noël/, Harbor/View of Jacmel with the Noël Bridge, 1968, Oil on canvas. Gift of Gale Simmons, Craig Duncan and Lynn Tarbox in memory of Barbara Duncan, 2007.6.41

El Museo del Barrio’s Permanent Collection By Rocio Aranda Alvarado

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At El Museo, we organize exhibitions that feature the work of Puerto Rican, Latin American, Caribbean, and Latino artists, though not necessarily all in the same show. Our permanent collection consists of about 6,500-objects of Caribbean, Latino and Latin American art, which is unique in the United States.

We divide the holdings divide into four main areas: Modern and Contemporary art, with particular strengths in Post War (1950 - the present) works, including paintings (over 400), photographs (over 700), and other contemporary, mixed-media and three-dimensional and time-based forms, such as video, primarily created by New York-based Latino artists. Graphics, which includes an excellent representation of Puerto Rican, Nuyorican, Mexican, and Chicano fine prints through the 20th and 21st centuries; Taíno/ Pre-Columbian, pan-Caribbean archeological objects, primarily from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, as well as fine photographs, graphics and contemporary works that have been influenced by the Taíno legacy; and Popular Traditions, including Santos de palo (primarily from Puerto Rico), and other devotional arts from the Santería, Candomblé and Orisha-worship traditions, masks (primarily from Mexico and Guatemala), and objects related to the celebration of Día de los Muertos. With this diverse body of works, El Museo organizes permanent collection exhibitions that explore

Beatriz González, (b. Bucaramanga, Colombia 1938; lives in Bogotá, Colombia), La isla del conejo de la suerte/The Island of the Good-Luck Rabbit, 1993, Oil and acrylic on canvas. Gift of the artist, P98.9

Malika, (b. Santurce, Puerto Rico, 1968; lives and works in New York, New York), Untitled from The Dream series, 2000, Chromogenic print. Gift of the artist, 2007.4.3 Emilio Sánchez, (b. Camagüey, Cuba 1921; d. New York, New York, 1999), Untitled (storefront, “Smoke,” West Village)/Sín título, (fachada, “Smoke,” West Village), late 1980s, Oil on canvas. Gift of the Emilio Sánchez Foundation, 2010, 2010.13.5

El Museo seeks to develop focused holdings in areas that are overlooked or underrepresented in museums of Latin American art, or encyclopedic institutions that have Latin American collections. We strategically plan to develop these holdings through the scholarly research, outreach, and presentation of exhibitions and related publications and programming which bring us into active contact with stakeholder in these areas. Successful examples of this strategy include our focused holdings of contemporary work by Dominican artists, as well as photography, video, and other materials that document actions by artists of the Americas. Many younger people often wonder how to begin the process of collecting art. If you are interested in contemporary art, seeing as many gallery shows as possible, especially group shows where the work of many different artists is featured is the best way to begin. By seeing a number of exhibitions, viewers will become familiar with artists’ names and their work and will begin

Rossana Martínez, (b. Mayagüez, Puerto Rico 1969; lives in Brooklyn, NY), Golden Islands/Islas doradas, 2000, Threaded hand-colored collagraph prints on paper. Gift of Rossana Martínez, 2001.6

to notice an affinity for some kinds of work more than others. In terms of beginning a new collection, the best resources for affordable art by emerging, and even some more established artists, are benefit auctions. There are a number of auctions (live and silent) at various non-profits throughout most major metropolitan areas during the year. In New York, for example, every year, VisualAIDS does their “Postcards from the Edge” benefit, in which very well known and emerging artists create postcardsized works (no artist names are revealed until after purchase) and they are each sold for $75. This is a bargain no matter who made the work. There are numerous benefits for small non-profit groups and alternative exhibition spaces all over the country and many great artists donate works to support these smaller art organizations, CONTINUED ON PAGE 8

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each of these areas. Since our re-opening in 2009, we have had two permanent collection exhibitions in our Voces y Visiones series, one that looked at the history of the collection from the time of the museum’s founding in 1969 and a second which explored the themes of signs, systems and the city. In December 2011, the permanent collection exhibition focused on Caribbean works which relates to our current 2012 blockbuster Caribbean: Crossroads of the World.


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Carmelo Sobrino, (b. Manat铆, Puerto Rico 1948; lives in Bayam贸n, Puerto Rico), Los Limpia botas/The Shoe Shiners, n.d., Oil on masonite. Gift of George Aguirre, 1992.60

CONTINUED FROM PAGE 6 making it a wonderful way to start a collection on a budget. The best way to get a better understanding of contemporary art is to do a little homework. When visiting a gallery, pick up press releases, brochures. There is often a binder at the front desk with the artist’s resume, press clippings and sometimes an “artist statement,” which often tells more about the artist’s process and ideas. These are very useful for understanding the work better on various levels. Finally, most artists now have a website, featuring more images of entire bodies of work, a resume, and some writings about the ideas behind them.

The most important thing to know about collecting art is that art requires a lot of care. Works of art should never be placed in direct sunlight. Sunlight will destroy virtually any work of art. This is particularly true for works on paper, like drawings, prints, photographs, which are often the most affordable works of art. The best place to keep art is in a darkened, temperature and humidity controlled environment (68-72°F, 50% relative humidity). But since this is only readily available in museums, the best thing to do is to keep shades drawn in order to maintain as low a level of light as possible.

Emilio Sánchez, (b. Camagüey, Cuba 1921; d. New York, New York, 1999), Untitled, Le Select Restaurant, St. Bart’s/Sín título, Restaurante Le Select), St. Bart’s, 1970s, Oil on canvas. Gift of the Emilio Sánchez Foundation, 2010, 2010.13.2

The most important attribute for creating and caring for a collection is passion. I consider myself to be very lucky in my work. I love that art allows me to do my job, which allows me to bring attention to artists and to support their work. The most important attribute for creating and caring for a collection is passion. I consider myself to Gerard Valcin, (b. Port-au-Prince, Haiti, 1925-d.1988), Untitle (Marriage Ceremony) n.d. be very lucky in my work. I love (mid 20th Century), Oil on Canvas. Gift of Margery Nathanson, P96.26.25 that art allows me to do my job, which allows me to bring attention to artists and to support their work. I love that art inspires people and makes them see various aspects of life in a different light. I love that it sparks heated discussions and debates. I love the cycles that exist in the world of art and that an artist can take an ordinary object and make it into something transcendental. el AVISO

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There are a lot of trends in contemporary art that have origins in historical movements, even more recent decades, like the 1970s and 1980s are providing inspiration to artists today. There is a lot of interest in comic book imagery, animation, and in the influence of video games, which also reflects some of the same kinds of interests of the American pop artists of the late 1950s. There is also an interest in massproduced objects because they reflect so much about our consumer culture as well as an interest in issues relating to the environment (reuse, recycling of objects, “green” materials, etc.).


Interview with

E. Carmen Ramos Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Curator for Latino Art

by Charles Rice Gonzalez

In October 2010, E. Carmen Ramos became the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s curator for Latino art. Born and raised in New York City, Ramos earned her bachelor’s degree from New York University and her Masters and PhD in Art History from the University of Chicago. Before joining the Smithsonian some of her projects included “BLACKOUT: A Centennial Commission by Paul Henry Ramirez,” a site-specific exhibition at The Newark Museum and the 2007 “S-Files Bienal” at El Museo del Barrio in New York City, which she co-curated with Elvis Fuentes. During her five year tenure at the Newark Museum she organized exhibitions about Mexican popular arts (2007), and solo exhibitions devoted to Franco Mondini-Ruiz (2007) and Freddy Rodríguez (2005), among others. Now in Washington D.C., Ramos is charged with expanding the Museum’s pioneering collection of Latino art and organizing a major exhibition for 2013.

The Smithsonian American Art Museum owns close to 600 works by Latino artists, a hundred of which are currently on display. From 2000-2002, the museum toured 66 rarely lent paintings, sculptures and photographs in “Arte Latino: Treasure from the Smithsonian American Art Museum,” which traveled to seven cities across the United States. The artworks included in the exhibition ranged from 18th-century colonial Puerto Rico works by José Campeche and The Caban Group to contemporary works by Carlos Alfonzo, Carmen Lomas Garza, Luis Jiménez, Ana Mendieta, Amalia Mesa-Bains and Pepón Osorio. El Aviso caught up with Ms. Ramos to ask about her interests and plans to expand the Museum’s important collection of Latino art.

El Aviso: How do you define Latino art? E. Carmen Ramos: That is a good, basic question, el AVISO Fall 2012 | 9

which ironically is hard to answer. Latino art is an imperfect umbrella category that refers to artworks created by what I like to call American artists of Latin American descent. Artists from diverse generations, backgrounds, and experiences can fall into the category: Puerto Ricans, Mexican-American and Chicanos, Cuban-Americans, Dominican-Americans, and the list goes on. While it would seem that the term encompasses art works by immigrant artists

from Latin America, it’s a lot more complicated than that. Historically speaking, not all Latino groups have immigrant roots. Many Mexican-American communities trace their origins to the Southwest when this part of the United States was Mexico. Therefore, they did not migrate, but rather became Americans overnight when the border was redrawn as a result of the Mexican American War of 1848. Puerto Ricans are another group who are not immigrants. The island became incorporated into the United States after the so-called Spanish-American War of 1898, and since

Aviso: Tell me something about Latino art in the Smithsonian’s collection of American Art and what are some of the gaps that you are hoping to fill? ECR: The Latino collection is very broad in terms

of chronological span and media. It includes important examples of colonial paintings and sculpture from the southwest and Puerto Rico that speak to the Hispanic origins of life on this continent and in the Americas. Actually, the oldest work in all of American Art’s collections is a small religious painting, Santa Barbara, created sometime between 1680 and 1690 by an unidentified Puerto Rican artist, which was given to us by Teodoro Vidal. Thanks to a gift from the Chicano scholar Tomás Ybarra-Frausto, we have an excellent collection of Chicano graphics from the 1960s and on. The collection is also strong in work by artists who rose to prominence before and during 1980s and 1990s such as Carlos Almaraz, Frank Romero, Pepón Osorio, Ana Mendieta, Carlos Alfonso, Amalia Mesa-Bains, and Luis Jiménez.

As I consider new works for the collection, I’m eager to challenge audience expectations of what is considered Latino art. Along these lines, we recently acquired works by three exciting East Coast-based artists: several film-based works from the late 1950s by Rafael Montañez Ortiz, who was a key member of the international avant-garde movement known as Destructivism, and several paintings by Freddy Rodríguez and Paul Henry Ramirez, two artists from different generations that both engage notions of the body through hard-edged, geometric and abstract

imagery. What I’m seeking to do is to capture the diverse vitality of Latino art.

Aviso: Are there any artists or pieces not in the collection that you would like to be a part of the collection? ECR: Oh yes. Owning a work by Felix Gonzalez-Torres would

be a dream come true. And there are many others. Overall, I’m trying to balance our collection. Latino art does not begin in 1968 and is not solely about civil rights. Over the past year, I perused works by pioneering artists that have not received their due and established mid-career artists who are tackling questions that reverberate with our existing collections of Latino and American art broadly defined. I believe we have made some impressive headway. We acquired a major painting by Carmen Herrera, the pioneering Cuban-born abstractionist who was part of the New York avant-garde at mid-century, Western landscape photographs by Ken Gonzalez-Day and Delilah Montoya, as well as monumental portraits of everyday people by Sophie Rivera.

Aviso: How do you identify a work that you want to acquire? ECR: It’s a long process that starts with following and studying an artist’s career and thinking about how their work relates CONTINUED ON PAGE 11

(continued on page 8)

Amalia Mesa-Bains, An Ofrenda for Dolores del Rio.

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1917, Puerto Ricans have been citizens of the United States. And this is the tip of the iceberg; every group encompassed by the category “Latino” has its own nuanced history. And we haven’t fully broached the art part of your question.



Delilah Montoya, Los Jovenes, collotype, 1993.

to our existing collections. For example, we acquired a wonderful installation by Christina Fernandez that creatively tells the story of her great-grandmother’s migration from Morelia, Mexico to San Diego, California. In part, the project touches on themes of Western expansion—a major theme in nineteenth-century American art—told from the perspective of a Mexican migrant. Given its subject and powerful execution, I felt this project needed to be represented in our national collection.

This history—which speaks to how Latino art has been marginalized from the category of American art—has placed Latino art in a kind of bubble, separated from the aesthetic and national context in which it was born. What does it mean to seriously consider Latino art as what it is, American art? How does this work complicate, or shift our understanding of American art and culture?

Aviso: Can you share some information about the exhibition you’re putting together for the museum for 2013? ECR: I’ve started to plan our 2013 exhibition,

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which will be drawn entirely from our permanent collection and will frame Latino art from a different perspective. I’m fascinated with how the history of Latino art has been largely told in culturally-specific exhibitions, most of which have been presented at culturally-specific institutions. This history—which speaks to how Latino art has been marginalized from the category of American art—has placed Latino art

Pedro Antonio Fresquís, Our Lady of Guadalupe, water-based paint on wood, ca. 1780-1830

in a kind of bubble, separated from the aesthetic and national context in which it was born. What does it mean to seriously consider Latino art as what it is, American art? How does this work complicate, or shift our understanding of American art and culture? The exhibition will consider some of these questions and explore how Latino artists tackled classic American themes and actively participated in the artistic movements of their day. I encourage your readers to periodically visit our

Our Lady of Guadalupe, ca. 1780-1830, Pedro Antonio Fresquís


Aviso: There’s a lot of talk about Latino population shifts. How do you think that will impact visual art? ECR: There are always new groups

that are in the process of becoming “American,” in the narrow sense of the word as it is used in the United States. For instance, I am beginning to see more artists with ties to the Salvadoran community, who settled in great numbers in California and Washington DC starting in the 1980s. In the years ahead, artists from this community will likely begin to engage the particularities of their historical and hybrid experience. In this respect, I’m reminded of the recent book The Other Latinos, edited by Jose Falconi of Harvard University, which looks at new immigrant Latino groups. How will these groups— which include Brazilian-Americans who speak Portuguese rather than Spanish—redefine the category of Latino?

Aviso: I read that you completed a dissertation on Victor Patricio de Landaluze , the nineteenthcentury Spanish artist who lived in Cuba and whose AfroCuban-themed works appear to anticipate those of the afrocubanismo vanguard of the 1920s and 1930s [Castellanos 1990, 13])? What attracted you to his work? ECR: I was perplexed, angered and

Aviso: There are several Latino art initiatives related to the Smithsonian like the Latino Center. What is your relationship to the Center and the National Museum of the American Latino? ECR: The Latino Center has been vital to promoting Latino art and culture at the Smithsonian. They directly supported my position. Eduardo Díaz and his staff have been extremely helpful as I meet with artists, collectors and leaders nationwide in an effort to build our collection and strengthen our CONTINUED ON PAGE 13

Unidentified Puerto Rican Artist, Santa Bárbara, oil on wood panel, ca. 1680-1690.


Martina Lopez, Heirs Come To Pass, cibachrome print, 1991.

fascinated with how his works—which often caricatured Afro-Cubans— could be seen as celebrating Cuban national culture. How could that be? That propelled my research, which sought to analyze his works against nineteenth-century Cuban debates over the emancipation of slavery and independence from Spain. I think my perspective on Landaluze was undoubtedly informed having been raised and educated in the United States. In the United States there is a long and nuanced tradition of analyzing racialized imagery. This is less so in Latin America.

Patssi Valdez, The Magic Room, acrylic on canvas, 1994.

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website and blog to learn more about how the exhibition is unfolding.


CONTINUED FROM PAGE 12 network of supporters. The fate of the National Museum of the American Latino is now in the hands of Congress. Should it become a reality, I am sure the relationship would be one of mutual support and collaboration.

Aviso: You come the Smithsonian with a great deal of experience in both curating and writing about art. Any parting thoughts on where you think Latino art is heading? ECR: I am always amazed by the expansive nature of the

field—it simply can’t be confined or boxed in. I hope that Latino artists will be embraced in their full complexity. By birth, tradition and residence, Latino artists are American, or better yet, estadounidense. Many maintain transnational ties to a host of Latin American nations. Latino artists are photographers, conceptual artists, printmakers, and beyond. I’d like to see Latino art meaningfully represented in all of these national and artistic contexts.

Pepon Osorio, La Bicicleta-The Bicycle. 1985.

Aviso: Thanks so much for taking time to do this interview. I know you are very busy. ECR: Thank you for offering me the opportunity to share news of my work with your readers. On a symbolic and practical level, it’s an enormous job to expand the Museum’s collection and through the process, broaden what we understand to be the cultural patrimony of the United States. I feel privileged and honored to be here.

LEFT: Angel Rodriguez Diaz, The Protagonist of an Endless Story, 1993.

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RIGHT: Freddy Rodriguez, Amor Africano, 1974.



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Vincent Valdez, Suspect: Dark Clothes, Dark Hair, Dark Eyes, Dark Skin, 2002. Screenprint. Collection of the McNay Art Museum, Gift of Harriett and Ricardo Romo.

September 25, 2012 - January 27, 2013

Estampas de la Raza: Contemporary Prints from the Romo Collection at the McNay Art Museum in San Antonio, Texas.

prints from the renowned collaborative print shop. After their return to Texas, they continued supporting Latino artists and became patrons of another highly important print shop, Coronado Studio in Austin.

Harriett and Ricardo Romo began acquiring art while teaching in Southern California at the height of the Chicano Movement in the late 1960s. As educators, they saw collecting as a means of supporting the artists as well as the movement’s goal of equal educational opportunity in Los Angeles’s school system. Intensely involved with Self Help Graphics & Art, a nexus of Chicano culture in East LA, the Romos bought many

Additional sponsors are the McCombs Foundation in honor of Connie McCombs McNab and Charline McCombs; the William and Salomé Scanlan Foundation; Frost Bank; the Dan and Gloria Oppenheimer Fund of the San Antonio Area Foundation; Ford, Powell & Carson Architects and Planners, Inc.; Gloria Galt; the Director’s Circle; and the Host Committee.

Tony Ortega, La Marcha de Lupe Liberty, 2006. Screenprint. Collection of the McNay Art Museum, Gift of Harriett and Ricardo Romo.

Gifts since 2008 from Harriett Romo, a sociology professor at the University of Texas at San Antonio, and Ricardo Romo, UTSA’s president, now constitute one of the most abundant donations in the history of the McNay’s print collection, at present totaling 200 works that survey the best Chicano and Latino art produced in Southern California and Texas in the last four decades. This exhibition celebrates the Romos’ generosity and the unique character, diversity, and richness these images bring to the museum’s American print collection. This exhibition was organized by the McNay Art Museum. The Elizabeth Huth Coates Charitable Foundation of 1992 is generously providing lead sponsorship.

The San Antonio Express-News is contributing media sponsorship.

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his survey of Mexican American and Latino printmakers chronicles the late 1960s at the outset of the Chicano Movement to the confident expressions of the 2000s. Estampas de la Raza introduces recent gifts to the McNay from San Antonio collectors Harriett and Ricardo Romo. More than 60 prints by 44 artists reveal the richness of a mixed cultural heritage, with depictions of Frida Kahlo, lowriders, the Statue of Liberty, tattoos, and the Virgin of Guadalupe. Organized thematically in five sections, both the catalogue and the exhibition focus on aspects of the Latino experience in the United States: the identity of individuals striving to define themselves; the Chicano Movement’s struggle to achieve economic, political, and personal equality; tradition, memory, and culture in the everyday lives of Latinos; icons that serve as guideposts; and other voices revealing the complex and everchanging directions Latinos choose. Many images are larger than life, serving up a colorful, visual feast.


Sonia Romero, Bee Pile (Found ‘Em), 2010. Screenprint. Collection of the McNay Art Museum, Gift of Harriett and Ricardo Romo.

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Rolando Briseño, Bicultural Tablesetting, 1998. Screenprint. Collection of the McNay Art Museum, Gift of Harriett and Ricardo Romo.

Sam Coronado, Quince, 2008. Screenprint. Collection of the McNay Art Museum, Gift of Harriett and Ricardo Romo.

Lalo Alcaraz, Che, 1997. Screenprint. Collection of the McNay Art Museum, Gift of Harriett and Ricardo Romo.

Raul Caracoza, Young Frida (Pink), 2006. Screenprint. Collection of the McNay Art Museum, Gift of Harriett and Ricardo Romo.

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Ester Hernandez, Sun Raid, 2008. Screenprint. Collection of the McNay Art Museum, Gift of Harriett and Ricardo Romo..



By Paloma Martinez-Cruz

in Chicago

As an educator, writer, and community member,

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my deepest gratitude is due to the hard work, vision, and love that gave birth to the National Museum of Mexican Art (NMMA) and its programs. It would not be an exaggeration to say that the NMMA is what gives the predominantly Mexican neighborhood of Pilsen on Chicago’s Lower West Side its sense of cohesion. On your stroll through the heart of Pilsen, you can’t go far without running into one of the murals painted by students of Yollacalli Arts Reach, a youth initiative of the museum that offers instruction on digital media, printing, puppet making, radio journalism, and more. The splash of colors and the uncompromising social engagement of Yollcalli murals and the free admission to the museum’s galleries color the identity experience of life in this corner of Chicago. In celebration of the museum’s first quarter century of art, culture and community, there is no doubt that it has fulfilled its original intent to be a leader in shaping public knowledge about Mexican arts and the role of expressive cultures in creating an enlightened society.

Mural by students of the Yollocalli Arts Reach. Copyright of Yollocalli Arts Reach, All rights reserved. Image courtesy of Yollocalli.

In 1987, the NMMA opened its doors thanks to the vision and determination of Carlos Tortolero and fellow educators. Originally it was called the Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum and from

and I know that I’m not Chicagoland’s only educator who considers the museum to be one of their greatest allies in the effort to increase cultural understanding. “Me gusta el color azul aquí. Me gusta los

it was conceived as a location that would not just house works of art, but also serve as a catalyst for social transformation.

To showcase the beauty and richness of Mexican culture by sponsoring events and presenting exhibitions that exemplify the majestic variety of visual and performing arts in the Mexican culture; to develop, conserve and preserve a significant permanent collection of Mexican art; to encourage the professional development of Mexican artists; and, to offer arts-education programs. The facility has provided much more than a showcase for my students and me. It has served as a launch pad for exploration of new space, and also has acted as my own spacewalk: a vehicle that allows me to invent, expand, become. The museum offers valuable opportunities for students to celebrate Mexican and Chicano/a contributions to the arts, and to dissolve ethnic bias. I have sent Spanish students from a small college in the predominantly White, western suburbs to explore Chicago’s mostly Mexican neighborhood in order to film their “Búsqueda de Tesoros” (“Scavenger Hunt”). I’ve had my students make their way in groups of four of five into a working class, Spanish-dominant neighborhood, and record their attempts to seek out images, objects, locations, and monuments, as well as to make certain requests in Spanish. I require them to begin their hunt at the National Museum of Mexican Art,

caballos. ” A student in the class’ final video project points to a swirl of color and explains in her halting, second-semester Spanish why she has chosen Alejandro Romero’s The Battle at Puebla/La Batalla de Puebla (1987) as her favorite painting from the permanent collection housed at the NMMA. The vivid colors and kinetic energy have drawn the eyes of my students for years. Once they leave the museum, they have an easy time of finding “El águila que devora la serpiente en el cielo,” since the City of Chicago has placed the Mexican flag’s emblem of the eagle devouring the serpent on many of the lampposts that line 18th Street, the commercial heart of the community. It is also easy to find a tortillería, and they generally encounter either a clump of painted nopales or a grocer’s fresh stock right away. They have a harder time locating and ordering champurrado, or the monument called “El Zocalito,” – the insider’s nickname for a monument that recalls Mexico’s grand counterpart in its prestigious capital – a trick question. The museum has provided them with a port of entry into a world that was previously unfamiliar and intimidating. By the time they have finished documenting and describing their favorite pieces in the permanent collection, they have taken their first step toward become participants in – rather than mere observers of – a hemispheric and inclusive Americas.

It has served as a launch pad for exploration of new space, and also has acted as my own spacewalk: a vehicle that allows me to invent, expand, become.

The museum has earned plenty of bragging rights over its twenty-five year trajectory. Home to one of the country’s CONTINUED ON PAGE 21

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its inception, it was conceived as a location that would not just house works of art, but also serve as a catalyst for social transformation. From an organization that s 0 square-foot facility that defined Mexican cultural activity at the national level. The scope this transformation was articulated in 2006 with its new name, the National Museum of Mexican Art. The original mission of the museum, however, retains its integrity:



largest Mexican art collections, it includes over 7,000 pieces from Pre-Columbian Mesoamerica to the present. Figuring among its groundbreaking exhibitions were The Art of the Other Mexico (1992), Maria Izquierdo (1996), The African Presence in Mexico (2006), and Frida’s Contemporaries: Women Artists of Modern Mexico (2007). The museum sponsors symposia, theater, concerts, dance performances, music, authors and repertory companies that promote Mexican and Mexican-American cultural achievements. Funded by donations and grants, its art exhibits, performances, and educational programs are enjoyed by more than 200,000 annual visitors, including 60,000 K–12 student – and my groups of giddy college students who have routinely hassled the museum’s unsuspecting docents and staff for clues and inside information that will help them locate the next item on their intrepid hunt. The NMMA puts Chicago on the map as one of the major cities in the U.S. that celebrates the Sor Juana Festival, the

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largest multidisciplinary festival dedicated to Mexican women. Named for one of Mexico’s greatest writers and the author of the first feminist writings of the Americas, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz was a 17th century nun of New Spain. Her intellectual gifts were evident by the age of three, when she followed her sister to the girls’ school and persuaded the instructor to teach her to read. She became an unstoppable force, devouring any source of knowledge within her reach. The viceroys, Antonio Sebastian de Toledo, Marquis de Mancera, and his wife, Leonor Carreto took the sixteen year-old Sor Juana into their court, and she spent five years in the company of the viceregal couple, developing intellectually and socially. Her knowledge in the areas of theology, philosophy, mathematics, history, poetry, and other disciplines were tested by the men of the court. Her vast knowledge convinced her contemporaries of her brilliance, sustained robustly by the many poems and sonnets authored during this period for the court’s funerary and celebratory occasions. Hundreds of years later, we continue to celebrate her role as a gifted artist and philosopher, and creator of the first feminist manifesto of the Americas that defended a woman’s right to be educated. The museum’s annual Sor Juana Festival honors the legacy of Sor Juana in the Americas, and the accomplishments of Mexican women with a broad slate of women’s performances and celebrations. The national festival pays tribute to the rich artistic and intellectual accomplishments of Mexicanas, including the culinary arts, dance, film,

Create and deliver high quality experiential learning opportunities that enable Latino youth to competencies and life skills to pursue careers of their choice, particularly journalism and media. Build a strong national network of Spanish language youth media creators. Support Latino youth as they become resources to the larger community through their involvement in media and civic engagement. Already garnering national awards as a groundbreaking institution, Radio Arte offers bilingual, one-year media-training programs to youth ages 15-21. This training provides an introduction to the basics in radio journalism, analysis of social issues, and the technical aspects of radio production. Students learn to appreciate the medium of radio as a technology with the potential to transform their communities and lives. Along with coverage of local and national issues, community members recognize Radio Arte as a powerhouse in Latino music, going beyond traditional genres to feature emerging contributions to Rock en Español, ska, electronica, and punk. Under the museum’s auspices, Pilsen’s youth elevate their potential and progress over the airwaves as space explorers representing la raza cósmica with deftness and heart.

Any comment I might muster about the Museum’s significance would remain at the superficial, informational level if I didn’t reflect on how the collection has had a resounding impression on my own creativity. When I prepared my book Women and Knowledge in Mesoamerica: From East L.A. to Anahuac for publication for the University of Arizona Press (2011), I was soon at an impasse with the publisher’s design staff. I had in mind the depiction of a woman representing Mesoamerica on a journey, perhaps a collage work reminiscent of Alma Lopez’ serigraphs that capture a simultaneity of moods and circumstances in a manner that is prophetic, and yet anchored in the traditional plane. What I got was a series of interpretations of the Mayan goddess Ixtab as a sort of “calavera girl”: a gothic looking illustration of a woman with Rasta locks and calavera facial paint pulls back her dreads with a hippie 1970’s headband. Large scalloped brass hoop earrings dangle from her lobes. The painting is done in delicate cream, gray, ochre, and dramatic charcoal. Her seductive face is depicted in full profile; a plate or disc with a floral design, perhaps marigolds, hovers in the background. The pieces were authored by a woman whose online art pages were mostly dedicated to ethereal portraits of European fairies and myths. That’s when I remembered the photograph Mujer Ángel by Graciela Iturbide (1979) that I had seen in the NMMA’s permanent collection. The photograph shows a Seri Indian woman of the Sonoran desert. Her billowing white skirt breaks up the landscape of dry mountains and plains. She walks alone, her back to the lens. The black and white image may have come from the 19th century, but for the large, portable radio that she clutches in her right hand. Iturbide has said about this work, “The photo Mujer Ángel was taken casually and when I saw the contact sheets I didn’t remember the moment in which I had taken the photo. In this case, I feel that it is an image that the desert gave to me.” I hadn’t been looking for an image that could capture over five hundred years of Mesoamerican women’s knowledge traditions, and also convey that we are yet on a journey through space and time, with so much more to explore. I don’t recall the moment in which I stumbled onto the photo: it is an image that the museum gave to me.

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literature, music, theater and visual arts. This past Chicago’s celebration featured the sounds of the Grammy Awardwinning Mariachi Divas, an all-female, international group. Hosted by the National Museum of Mexican Art, this event is free and open to the public of all ages. One of the museum’s programs that bears mention is its own Radio Arte, 90.5 WRTE-FM, a Latino-owned, youthdriven public radio station that “works to advance the voices of our multi-layered society.” The NMMA acquired a Class D radio station in 1996 from the Boys & Girls Club of Chicago. Radio Arte states its guiding principals are to:

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Participa hoy mismo por la oportunidad de ganar una increíble fiesta privada con Poty, el coreógrafo de Mira Quién Baila®, para ti y hasta 30 de tus afortunados invitados. Para más detalles ve a la página de Nescafé Latino en Facebook. Participa y saca el ritmo que hay en ti con Nescafé Clásico. LA COMPRA NO ES NECESARIA. Abierto a residentes legales de los 50 Estados Unidos y D.C., mayores de 18 años. El sorteo comienza el 9/3/12 y termina el 11/25/12. Visita para detalles sobre cómo participar y para las Reglas Oficiales completas. Límite de una (1) entrada por dirección de correo electrónico/sobre por persona por día. 1 Premio Mayor: Una fiesta con Poty y bailarines (valor: $9,750). 500 Primeros Premios:Paquete de Premios NESCAFÉ (valor: $17.97). 4,500 Segundos Premios: set de 4 tazas (valor: $5). Las probabilidades de ganar dependen del número de inscripciones elegibles. No válido donde esté prohibido. Patrocinado por Nestlé USA, Glendale, CA. No es patrocinado ni promocionado por Facebook. Los títulos y logotipos de MQB y Univision son las marcas de Univision Communications Inc. Sintoniza Mira Quién Baila los domingos a las 8pm en Univisión. NESCAFE® and CLASICO® are trademarks of Sociéte des Produits Nestlé S.A., Vevey, Switzerland.

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Philadelphia Conference Host Committee Veronica Castillo-Perez Raices Culturales Latinoamericanas, Inc. Carmen Febo San Miguel Taller Puertorriqueño Magda Martinez Fleisher Art Memorial Emilio Buitrago Casa de Venezuela James Claiborne Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance Andrea Townrow Mexican Cultural Center Alice Santana Artistas y Musicos Latinoamericanas (AMLA) Cynthia Hernandez Taller Puertorriqueño Matilde Duenas Mexican Cultural Center Jasmin Dottin Raices Culturales Latinoamericanos, Inc. Michelle A. Ortiz Stockton Rush Bartol Foundation Tony Rocco Photography Without Borders Edgardo Gonzalez Taller Puertorriqueño Cecilia Bonilla Mexican Cultural Center Eric Cortes WWSI Telemundo Philadelphia Graziella DiNuzzo-D’Amelio 2012 Philadelphia NALAC Conference Coordinator

El Aviso, Volume 10 No. 1  

A Publication of the National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures. Learn more at

El Aviso, Volume 10 No. 1  

A Publication of the National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures. Learn more at