San Juan, Puerto Rico

El Museo de Art de Puerto Rico. The fish was in the museum’s pond, not part of an exhibit.

The Programa de Navidad was created by Isabel Bernal, a painter and graphic artist in 1958. She studied design, drawing and silkscreen at Mount Mary College in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1952, and painting at the University of Puerto Rico under Professor Osiris Delgado. After graduating in 1957, she started working as a graphic artist at the Division of Community Education (DIVEDCO) until her retirement in 1987. She’s had several solo exhibitions and has participated in several group exhibitions in Puerto Rico, Mexico, Spain and the United States. The subjects of her work are the urban and rural landscape, and portraits.  

The view of San Juan Bay was created by Ángel Botello-Barros, a in 1946, Painter, printmaker and sculptor. Botello first studied in 1930 under François Maurice Roganeaux at the Êcole des Beaux Arts in Bordeaux, France. In 1935, he returned to Spain to study at the Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando in Madrid. The Spanish Civil War interrupted his education, and in 1940, he moved to the Dominican Republic and later Haiti. In 1953, he came to Puerto Rico and opened Las Antillas Gallery (later Botello Gallery), one of the first art galleries on the island. From that time on, he devoted himself entirely to his artistic work, and although he often worked in landscape and still life, he made the portrayal of the human figure, especially children, the main subject of his work. His pictorial language is simple, based on geometric simplification of the figures and large areas of strongly outlined flat color.

Papo Colo, Performance Artist:
“Aro Head: La huella de los campeones—Imprint of the Champions (Puerto Rico Nat. Basketball Team)—2004

Manuel Hernández Acevedo’s “San José Plaza” (1963): Acevedo was a painter and printmaker who came from a very humble family, left school after the fourth grade, and worked as a shoemaker, assistant sign maker, and cook. In 1947, he entered the Graphic Arts Workshop of Division de Educación a la Comunidad (DivEdCo) and under the encouragement of American graphic artist Irene Delano, who was then the director of the Workshop, he learned silk-screening and began to paint, for which he had a natural talent. A simple, honest man, in his paintings Hernández Acevedo favored scenes of streets and houses in Old San Juan, in which such characteristic features of the old city as light posts, power lines and kites are frequent images. He also illustrated historical events such as the inauguration of Luis Muñoz Marín in 1948. His placement of pictorial elements in the composition, his keen eye for detail, the simplicity of subjects and shapes, and the variety of light and color have made him one of the main representatives of Art Naïf in Puerto Rico.

Rolando López Dirube’s “The Wall V ” (1973): Dirube was a sculptor, graphic artist, painter, teacher who studied at the University of Havana in 1947 and later, in 1949 and 1950, at the Art Students League of New York and the Brooklyn Museum Arts School. He came to Puerto Rico in 1961. As his own work evolved, he taught in several academic institutions, from the University of Puerto Rico to the Art Students League of San Juan. Among the prizes and awards he won throughout his career is the gold medal at the First Hispano-American Biennial in Madrid, in 1951. He worked in wood, stone, concrete, and metal, often combining them. Several of his sculptures were produced as a result of private or institutional commissions, and he also produced sculptural reliefs over architectural facades. He set up a studio in Santo Domingo, where he had greater access to various types of wood. His wood sculptures, which he is best known for, are generally abstract, and they are distinguished by the geometry of their forms and the sophistication of their polished surfaces.

María Elena Perales’s “Espacio OM *” (1999): Perales was a sculptor and photographer who attended the Puerto Rico School of Visual Arts, graduating with a degree in sculpture and painting in 1973, and earned a master’s degree at the Academia de San Carlos from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Méxio in Mexico City in 1978. She also took a course in cement sculpture at the Montoya Studios in West Palm Beach, Florida, in 1989, and at the Art Students League of San Juan in 1991. In the eighties, she belonged to the Puerto Rico Association of Women Artists and the Puerto Rico Sculptors Association, which she chaired in 1987. Her works have been shown in events such as the First Ibero-American Biennial in Lima, Peru, where she was the only artist who donated her work to the city government of Lima for its permanent collection, and the Havana Biennial in 2006. She was head of the Puerto Rican Association of Visual Artist affiliated with UNESCO, Paris. She has devoted herself to monumental sculpture in metal, although she also produces smaller work in several sculptural media, and in the nineties incorporated non-conventional materials such as wire and fluorescent lighting.

Nick Quijano’s “La Milagrosa Botánica Shop” (1990): Quijano was a painter, printmaker, assemblage artist, and designer. Of Puerto Rican parents, Quijano came to the island in 1967, at the age of thirteen. He first studied architecture at the University of Puerto Rico, but his experience with printmaking under José A. Torres Martinó pushed him instead toward painting and the graphic arts. In the late eighties, Quijano was a visiting professor at the Art Students League in San Juan. During this same period he did several large-scale still lifes and flowers and became interested in the design of furniture and decorative accessories. In the early nineties he completed his degree in architecture and obtained a bachelor’s degree in environmental design from the University of Puerto Rico School of Architecture. Among the distinctions he has received are the Award in Drawing in the UPR’s Plastic Arts Competition in 1979 and the first and second prizes at the American National Miniature Show in Wyoming in 1983. His paintings and constructions are very colorful and have a certain naïf air; they portray Quijano’s childhood memories of Puerto Rican life with humor and a certain tongue-in-cheek quality.

José Rosa Castellanos’: “Centennial of the Abolition of Slavery” (1973): Castellanos was a printmaker and painter who first studied art under Rafael Tufiño; his training in the graphic arts took place in DIVEDCO, at the Campeche Studio and Gallery run by Domingo García in San Juan, and under Lorenzo Homar at the Graphic Arts Workshop of the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture. From 1973 to 1986, Rosa was director of that Workshop, where he became a master of silkscreen technique. In his work, he captures images and subjects associated with the popular culture of Puerto Rico, such as bar life, politics, and the religiosity of the island’s people, generally in a humorous, amusing manner. In the seventies, he developed a novel style characterized by the integration of text into his compositions, using the text as a graphic element. In 1998, he was honored at the Twelfth San Juan Biennial of Latin American and Caribbean Prints. His paintings have visual parallels with his graphic art, and are characterized by an emphasis on the underlying drawing and by the sharpness of the lines and the figures’ outlines. 

Pablo Rubio’s “Flamboyán*” (1999) (Flamboyant Tree)

José Ruíz’s “Untitled (County fair scene)” (1979): Ruiz was a painter who studied drawing, watercolor, caricature and printmaking at the Industrial Arts School in New York City. Back to the island, he created his paintings with furniture enamels on cardboard and sold them to tourists near the Caribe Hilton and Normandie Hotels, managing to create more than 900 works. He is one of the representatives of Naive and popular painting in Puerto Rico. Since the 1960’s he has made a consistent body of work. His paintings are characterized by the spontaneity with which the artist brings to canvas everyday scenes of life in Puerto Rico and in places like amusement fairs, plazas, beaches and markets.

Jorge Zeno’s “El Yunque” (2009): Zeno was a printer, draftsman, painter, and sculptor who came to live in Puerto Rico at the age of three. He earned his BFA from the Puerto Rico School of Plastic Arts in 1979. That same year, the Fourth San Juan Biennial of Latin American and Caribbean Prints awarded him a prize for his woodcut La profecía (The Prophecy). He completed his training with visits to New York (where he joined the Printmaking Workshop), Mexico City (where he worked in the studio of Leo Acosta), and, in 1991, Paris. Since the late eighties, his work has been widely received and recognized on the island. In 1999, three of his sculptures were installed in public squares in Old San Juan as part of the Arte Urbano (Urban Art) municipal project. Zeno employs the Surrealist idiom of such artists as Marc Chagall, Joan Miró, and Remedios Varo, and his work is characterized by its depiction of enchanted, magical settings that he invites us to enter. He is also interested in landscape, which he has worked in throughout his career, especially, most recently, in his series of oil paintings depicting the El Yunque rain forest.

Grade: A

REFERENCES: Google Earth and the museum’s website

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