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El Museo del Barrio announces summer exhibitions
Roger Gaitan, RGB (Monitor), 2013. Wood, acrylic, museum board, paper, and vynil paint, 20 x 32 x 32 in. Courtesy of the artist.

NEW YORK, NY.- El Museo del Barrio is presenting Rodriguez Calero: Urban Martyrs and Latter Day Santos - the first museum survey of the Nuyorican artist Rodríguez Calero and the second in a new annual series of women-artist retrospectives at El Museo. The exhibition is shown in conjunction with two additional shows: CUT N’ MIX: Contemporary Collage, which examines the work of artists experimenting with collage techniques in ways that expand the gestures of cutting paper and mixing various mediums together; and İPRESENTE! The Young Lords in New York, which explores the legacy of the Young Lords in East Harlem, the Bronx and the Lower East Side, focusing on political events that the Young Lords organized in these locations. All three exhibitions are on view July 22 – October 17, 2015.

“It’s going to be a Nuyorican summer at El Museo,” said Jorge Daniel Veneciano, Executive Director, El Museo del Barrio, “especially with exhibitions on Rodríguez Calero and the Young Lords. Greater recognition for the hip-hop and Byzantine work of Rodríguez Calero is long overdue. No one in contemporary art makes a clearer case for collage as the natural medium for hip-hop culture than she does. Cut N’ Mix shows us how other Latino artists advance the hip-hop aesthetic of layering in collage work.

Rodriguez Calero: Urban Martyrs and Latter Day Santos The exhibition, curated by Alejandro Anreus, is a 30-year survey, focusing on Rodriguez Calero’s figurative work in the mediums of painting, collage, and photography. Rodríguez Calero’s aesthetic vision fuses figures of popular urban (hip hop) culture with Renaissance and mannerist religious motifs and iconography, and frames them in a visual tension that transcends their contemporary moment. Rodríguez Calero has devised a means of presenting these figures symbolically, but without sentimentality, taking sometimes harsh perspectives of Latino life and culture and transforming them into statements of realities, charged with beauty and grace.

“The approach and foresight of El Museo’s director has been groundbreaking. To be chosen to exhibit my work within the context of the five-part women artists’ series is a great privilege. In this significant period of El Museo’s development, my survey exhibit will contribute to further showcasing the diverse points of view of the institution. This exhibit is for me an unparalleled opportunity to document a lifelong career in the arts,” said Rodriguez Calero of her upcoming exhibition.

With the title reflective of a Latino syncretic aesthetics, the exhibition features works that oscillate between, on one hand, depictions of saints and Holy Family members by European masters and, on the other, the anonymous faces we encounter every day on the streets of our urban centers. The survey includes portrayals of men and women of color, bearing the urban experience in the pose of their bodies, while giving witness to the sacredness of life, sometimes in the midst of trial and alienation. 36 large acrollage canvases, 47 smaller collages, 13 fotacrolés (altered photography) on canvas board, and 3 works of mixed media on paper are featured.

Rodríguez Calero has received awards, honors, and fellowships from Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, and the New York Foundation for the Arts. She was awarded residencies from the National Endowment for the Arts and The New York State Council on the Arts. In 2008–2009, she received the prestigious Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant in painting. In 2006, she was featured in New Jersey Networks Public Television’s State of the Arts Series, “Sign Of The Times.” She has exhibited in galleries and museums across the USA, in the Caribbean and China and her works are in many private and public collections.

CUT N’ MIX: Contemporary Collage
This exhibition complements the Rodríguez Calero survey by exploring the work of artists who experiment with collage and collage techniques in ways that expand the gestures of cutting paper and mixing various mediums together. It takes as its point of departure some concepts in Dick Hebdidge’s series of essays collected in a book of the same title, especially his attention to the creation of multiple versions of a song—remixes, a kind of sound collage made from the original melody.

“I found the idea of making several versions of a song by laying new sounds over older ones and mixing them up was an interesting metaphor for the process of collage. It seems particularly malleable, allowing artists working in all mediums to explore collage’s vast possibilities.” said exhibition curator, Rocio Aranda-Alvarado.

This original form of working in paper collage has been changed in some way by the artists in the show through radical processes: from so-called traditional collages to “extreme” versions such as layered linoleum, plastic or wood, to pop-style drawings collaged into a GIF.

The artists included in the exhibition range from established artists who are veterans of collage to new generations of artists experimenting with this malleable medium. Participating Artists include: Elia Alba, Jesse Amado, Blanka Amezkua, Javier Barrera, Maria Berrio, Cecilia Biagini, Michael Paul Britto, José Camacho, Karlos Carcamo, Nat Castañeda, Gaby Collins-Fernandez, Matias Cuevas, Rafael Ferrer, Roger Gaitan, Carolina Gomez, Javier Ramirez/NADIE, Carlos Gutierrez Solana, Hector Madera, Glendalys Medina, Alex Nuñez, Catalina Parra, Carlos Rigau, Hernan Rivera Luque, Linda Vallejo, Rafael Vega and Eduardo Velázquez.

İPRESENTE! The Young Lords in New York
İPresente! The Young Lords in New York explores the legacy of the Young Lords in East Harlem, the Bronx and the Lower East Side, focusing on specific political events that the Young Lords organized in these locations.

El Museo’s exhibition draws from works in the museum’s own collection including copies of the Young Lords weekly newspaper, Palante. It also explores the legacy of the Young Lords and the relationship between art and activism. Images by photographer Hiram Maristany that feature the Young Lords’ Garbage Offensive, their takeover of the First Spanish Methodist Church of East Harlem (later renamed by the Young Lords as The People’s Church), their free morning breakfast program, the rerouting of a TB-testing truck and the funeral of Julio Roldán all are highlighted in the exhibition.

Paintings and political prints (Antonio Martorell, Domingo García, and Marcos Dimas) from El Museo’s permanent collection are on display. Works commissioned specifically for this exhibition by Coco Lopez, JC lenochan, Miguel Luciano, and Shelleyne Rodriguez are also featured.

Founded in Chicago in September 1968, the Young Lords Organization later developed a chapter in New York City in July 1969 when various groups came together in the interest of neighborhood improvement and Puerto Rican self-determination. The New York chapter was led by a group of students and young people working together, including Felipe Luciano, Pablo “Yoruba” Guzman, Juan González, Juan “Fi” Ortiz, David Pérez and Miguel Melendez.

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