Puerto Rican Art in ´´Something Beautiful: Reframing The Collection´´ at El Museo del Barrio

Augusto Marín, 1873-1973, 1973. Collection of El Museo del Barrio.

Image courtesy of El Museo del Barrio.

Something Beautiful: Reframing La Colección

On View from May 19, 2023 – March 10, 2024

El Museo del Barrio is pleased to present Something Beautiful: Reframing La Colección, the Museum's most ambitious presentation of its unique, complex, and culturally diverse Permanent Collection in over two decades. Organized by Rodrigo Moura, Chief Curator; Susanna V. Temkin, Curator; and Lee Sessions, Permanent Collection Associate Curator, the exhibition will present approximately 500 artworks, including new acquisitions and artist commissions, through rotating displays over the course of one year. Something Beautiful cuts across traditional chronological, geographic, and media-specific categories, reconsidering the Collection through new interdisciplinary approaches rooted in El Museo del Barrio’s foundational history and legacy. This forward-thinking model focuses on the contribution of Amerindian, African, and European cultures as the basis of visual production in the Americas and the Caribbean. 

Artists Commissions: Glendale’s Medina b. 1979, Ponce, Puerto Rico.

Image courtesy of El Museo del Barrio.

The first rotation of Something Beautiful is organized in eight sections plus seven artist spotlights. Sections include: Ocama Aracoel: Taíno spirits and forms and their influence on the Nuyorican art movement; Cosmic Visions: Indigenous and non-indigenous artists evoking Amerindian languages, landscapes, and other cultural references; First Impressions: Focusing on early acquisitions and the graphic portfolio in Puerto Rican printmaking; El Barrio: Different facets of life in East Harlem and other Barrios in New York, especially around the stoop, the sidewalk, and the bodega; The Street Transforms: Artists’ and activists’ interventions in public space; Pathos, Hope, Glory: Transhistorical portraits and self portraits of artists reflecting the diversity of the Latinx experience; Clothed/Unclothed: Artworks that explore, exaggerate, and deconstruct what it means to be male, female, neither, or both; and Abstraccionistas: The protagonism of women in abstract art, matrilinear traditions, opticalities and the framing of reality through abstraction.

Rafael Tufiño, Cortador de Caña, 1951. Linoleum block print. Gift of Susan Sollins in memory of Sonya Peretz Sollins and Irving V. Sollins. Collection of El Museo del Barrio. Image courtesy El Museo del Barrio.

Some of the participating Puerto Rican artists are:ADÁL (1947, Utuado, Puerto Rico – 2020, San Juan, Puerto Rico); José R. Alicea (1928, Ponce, Puerto Rico; lives in Río Piedras, Puerto Rico); Rubén Rivera Aponte (1931, Bayamón, Puerto Rico); Félix Rodríguez Báez (1929, Cayey, Puerto Rico – 2013, San Juan, Puerto Rico); Myrna Báez (1931, Santurce, Puerto Rico – 2018, Hato Rey, Puerto Rico); Eloy Blanco (1933, Aguadilla, Puerto Rico – 1984, New York, NY); Roger Cabán (1942, Isabela, Puerto Rico – 2017, New York, NY); José Caraballo (1930, Santurce, Puerto Rico – 1992, Collegedale, TN); Héctor Méndez Caratini (1949, San Juan, Puerto Rico; lives in San Juan); Luis Carle (1962, San Juan, Puerto Rico; lives in New York, NY); José A. Rosa Castellanos (1939, San Juan, Puerto Rico; lives in San Juan); Papo Colo (1947, Puerta de Tierra, Puerto Rico; lives between New York, NY and El Yunque, Puerto Rico); Gisela Colón (1966, Vancouver, Canadá; lives in Los Angeles, CA); Máximo Colón (1950, Arecibo, Puerto Rico; lives in New York, NY); David Antonio Cruz (1974, Philadelphia, PA; lives in New York, NY); Perla de León (1952, New York, NY; lives in New York); Pablo Delano (1954, San Juan, Puerto Rico; lives in Hartford, CT); Marcos Dimas (1943, Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico; lives in Bronx, NY); Jorge González (1981, San Juan, Puerto Rico; lives in San Juan); ; Lorenzo Homar (1913–2004, San Juan, Puerto Rico); Antonio Lopez (1943, Utuado, Puerto Rico – 1987, Rafael López del Campo (1936, Barranquitas, Puerto Rico – 2009, San Juan, Puerto Rico); Antonio Maldonado (1920, Manatí, Puerto Rico – 2006, San Juan, Puerto Rico); Carlos Marichal (1923, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain – 1969, San Juan, Puerto Rico); Augusto Marín (1921, Puerto Rico – 2011, San Juan, Puerto Rico); Hiram Maristany (1945, New York, NY – 2022, St. Petersburg, FL); Antonio Martorell (1939, San Juan, Puerto Rico; lives in Playa de Ponce, Puerto Rico); Glendalys Medina (1979, Ponce, Puerto Rico; lives in New York, NY); Raphael Montañez Ortiz (1934, Brooklyn, NY; lives in Highland Park, NJ); Rafael Colón Morales (1941, Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico – 2021, Arecibo, Puerto Rico); Carlos Osorio (1927 – 1984, Caguas, Puerto Rico); Nick Quijano (1953, New York, NY; lives in San Juan, Puerto Rico); Jorge Rechany (1914–1990, San Juan, Puerto Rico); Carlos Raquel Rivera (1923, Yauco, Puerto Rico – 1999, San Juan, Puerto Rico); Jaime Romano (1942, San Juan, Puerto Rico; lives in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico); Juan Sánchez (1954, Brooklyn, NY; lives in Brooklyn); Samuel Sánchez Herrera (1929, Corozal, Puerto Rico – 2014, Chicago, IL); Carmelo Sobrino (1948, Manatí, Puerto Rico; lives in Bayamón, Puerto Rico); Jorge Soto Sánchez (1947, New York, NY – 1987, White River Junction, VT); José Antonio Torres Martinó (1916 – 2011, Ponce, Puerto Rico); Nitza Tufiño (1949, Mexico City, Mexico; lives in South Orange, NJ); Rafael Tufiño (1922, Brooklyn, NY – 2008, San Juan, Puerto Rico); Rafael Tufiño II (1951, Río Piedras, Puerto Rico; lives in New York, NY); Manuel Vega (1956, New York, NY; lives in New York); Edgar Ruiz Zapata (1951, Mayaguez, Puerto Rico). In addition, artists Maria Gaspar and Glendalys Medina were commissioned to create new artworks reflecting and responding to the exhibition.

Myrna Báez, Noviembre 1976, 1976. Acrylic on canvas. Museo Purchase Fund and a matching Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (purchased on or prior to 1982).

Collection of El Museo del Barrio. Image courtesy of El Museo del Barrio.

On the occasion of Something Beautiful, an accompanying publication drawing from the contributions of 45 invited speakers introduces new expertise about the Collection and its future. Published as a dialogic mosaic, the publication includes excerpted reflections about El Museo’s role in institutional ecosystems. Select contributors include: Beverly Adams, Cecilia Fajardo-Hill, Marcela Guerrero, Gala Kim, Yasmin Ramírez, Taína Traverso, Adriana Zavala, and Julian Zugazagoitia, among others.

Something Beautiful: Reframing La Colección is made possible by the Terra Foundation for the Arts and The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Foundation, with additional support provided by Tony Bechara. Public support provided by the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs. Additional permanent collection funding provided by The Mellon Foundation.