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Major exhibition to explore modern and contemporary Latino art opens at the Smithsonian American Art Museum
Oscar R. Castillo, ‘47 Chevy in Wilmington, California, 1972, printed 2012, inkjet print, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase through the Luisita L. and Franz H. Denghausen Endowment. © 2012, Oscar R. Castillo.
WASHINGTON, DC.- “Our America: The Latino Presence in American Art” presents the rich and varied contributions of Latino artists in the United States since the mid-20th century, when the concept of a collective Latino identity began to emerge. The exhibition is drawn entirely from the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s pioneering collection of Latino art. It explores how Latino artists shaped the artistic movements of their day and recalibrated key themes in American art and culture.

The exhibition presents works in all media by 72 leading modern and contemporary artists. Of the 92 artworks featured in the exhibition, 63 have been acquired by the museum since 2011, representing its deep and continuing commitment to collecting Latino art. “Our America” will be on view from Oct. 25 through March 2, 2014. Following its presentation in Washington, D.C., the exhibition will travel to six cities across the United States. The exhibition is organized by E. Carmen Ramos, curator of Latino art at the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

“The exhibition ‘Our America’ is the culmination of a major collecting initiative, still underway at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, to build a significant collection of Latino art in the nation’s capital,” said Elizabeth Broun, The Margaret and Terry Stent Director of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. “It is particularly exciting to debut so many artworks newly acquired for the museum’s permanent collection.”

The exhibition includes works by artists who participated in all the various artistic styles and movements, including abstract expressionism; activist, conceptual and performance art; and classic American genres such as landscape, portraiture and scenes of everyday life. Latino artists across the United States were galvanized by the civil rights movement of the 1960s and 1970s. They created new images of their communities and examined bicultural experiences. Many critically probed American history and popular culture, revealing the possibilities and tensions of expansionism, migration and settlement. Other Latino artists in the exhibition devoted themselves to experimentation, pushing the limits of their chosen medium. “Our America” presents a picture of an evolving national culture that challenges expectations of what is meant by “American” and “Latino.”

“The relationship between Latino art and the larger world of American art in the post War period is not simple or clear cut,” said Ramos. “Some artists, influenced by the activism of Latino civil rights movements, turned away from pure formalist discourse to tackle the pressing issues of the day. Others artists wholeheartedly embraced abstraction. An even larger group inhabited multiple worlds, infusing avant-garde modes with politically and culturally engaged themes.”

Artists featured in the exhibition reflect the rich diversity of Latino communities in the United States. “Our America” showcases artists of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban and Dominican descent, as well as other Latin American groups with deep roots in the United States. By presenting works by artists of different generations and regions, the exhibition reveals recurring themes among artists working across the country.

Artists featured in the exhibition are ADÁL, Manuel Acevedo, Elia Alba, Olga Albizu, Carlos Almaraz, Jesse Amado, Asco (Harry Gamboa Jr., Gronk, Willie Herrón and Patssi Valdez), Luis Cruz Azaceta, Myrna Báez, Guillermo Bejarano, Charles “Chaz” Bojórquez, María Brito, Margarita Cabrera, María Magdalena Campos-Pons, Melesio “Mel” Casas, Leonard Castellanos, Oscar R. Castillo, José Cervantes, Enrique Chagoya, Roberto Chavez, Carlos A. Cortéz, Marcos Dimas, Ricardo Favela, Christina Fernandez, Teresita Fernández, iliana emilia garcía, Rupert García, Scherezade García, Carmen Lomas Garza, Ignacio Gomez, Ken Gonzales-Day, Hector González, Luis C. “Louie the Foot” González, Muriel Hasbun, Ester Hernandez, Judithe Hernández, Carmen Herrera, Carlos Irizarry, Luis Jiménez, Miguel Luciano, Emanuel Martinez, María Martínez-Cañas, Antonio Martorell, Ana Mendieta, Amalia Mesa-Bains, Franco Mondini-Ruiz, Delilah Montoya, Malaquias Montoya, Abelardo Morell, Jesús Moroles, Raphael Montañez Ortiz, Pepón Osorio, Amado M. Peña Jr., Chuck Ramirez, Paul Henry Ramirez, Sophie Rivera, Arturo Rodríguez, Freddy Rodríguez, Joseph Rodríguez, Frank Romero, Emilio Sánchez, Juan Sánchez, Jorge Soto Sánchez, Rafael Soriano, Ruben Trejo, Jesse Treviño, John M. Valadez, Alberto Valdés and Xavier Viramontes.





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