September 22 through October 28, 2017
This exhibition features the works of artists printmakers who are members of the ”Consejo Grafico ” (The Graphic Council), a national Latinx organization of ”Talleres” printmaking workshops. The portfolio of prints is by selected artists , who have created original works honoring a master printmaker who has influenced him or her. The featured artists are: Rene Arceo; Pepe Coronado; Francisco X Siqueiros; Marianne Sadowski; Kay Brown; Poli Marichal; Juan R Fuentes; Richard Xavier Serment; Ramiro Rodriguez; Joe Segura; Paul del Bosque; Sandra C Fernandez; Maceo Montoya; Lezlie Salkowitz Montoya; Malaquias Montoya; Loanda Lozano; Nitza Tufiño; Betty Cole; Eliezer Berrios; and Marcos Dimas. In addition, during this event there will be an adjoining exhibit featuring the work from members of the Dominican York Proyecto GRAFICA (DYPG) and Taller Boricua’s Rafael Tufiño Printmaking Workshop.
ARTISTS, TEACHERS, WORKERS: PRINTS FOR LIFE
Since 2000, a group of independent printmaking workshops began to form a coalition, the CONSEJO GRÁFICO, to “advance the capacity and legacy of Latino printmakers in the United States”. This beautiful series of prints constitutes their third Portfolio Exchange. The Portfolio, an edition of 30, gathers 19 participating artists, each contributing on print.
The portfolio’s title, LA HUELLA MAGISTRAL: HOMAGE TO MASTER PRINTMAKERS reveals the generous purpose of the participating artists: to honor their teachers — master printmakers who taught, mentored, or inspired them. These artists share moral values and social ideals with those who inspired them: the defense of poor and oppressed peoples, solidarity with workers, a commitment to public education. They are cultural activists whose work champions ethical principles they have struggled to uphold, individually and collectively, throughout their professional careers.
These artists are also part of a generation that came of age, artistically and politically, in the 1970s — an exciting decade of crafting collective social justice agendas, of acknowledging difference, of raising questions and concerns that broke cultural, ethnic, racial, and gender barriers. Collectively frustrated, angry, and tired of being represented by Anglo-dominated museums and exhibitions, they joined other culturally diverse artists and communities to consciously own their own representation, in order to give a clear voice to their own concerns and identities.
As social activists, these artists have chosen to work collectively, banding together in Talleres, or workshops. They defy the stereotype of artists isolated in their studios and work collaboratively towards solutions to real-world problems. Accessibility to a broad public is a key goal, pursued through educational outreach: workshops, classes, public lectures and lecture-demonstrations. Each of these artists is an artist-educator, a life choice by which they also honor their teachers.
Cheaply printed, widely disseminated broadsides originated the centuries-long tradition of urgent communication through rapid distribution of multiple printed sheets, mostly in urban settings. In the twentieth century, graphic artists, (notably in Latin America, Russia, and the US), made printmaking their preferred medium for advocating urgent social, often revolutionary, causes. This portfolio celebrates printmaking masters who ennoble this tradition of social advocacy through printmaking. They include, from: Mexico: Leopoldo Méndez, Rufino Tamayo, Elena Huerta, USA-Chicano artist: Rupert García, Luis Jiménez, Sam Coronado; Spain: Francisco Goya; Latin America: Antonio Frasconi; Puerto Rico: Carlos Raquel Rivera, Lorenzo Homar, Rafael Tufiño, María Somoza; Cuba: Belkis Ayón; US: Elizabeth Catlett, Rini Templeton, Bob Blackburn.
Latin American and Latino printmakers quickly took on the proud legacy of cultural advocacy for its accessibility, clarity of message, modest cost, and speed of dissemination. As expressed by Chicano artist Rupert García (portrayed in the silkscreen here by Juan Fuentes): I want the viewer to be able to see my pictures with as little outside interference as possible. The capacity to produce multiples of a given visual idea attracted me to silkscreen printing. The democratic idea behind making multiples also made sense to me.
As dictated by the chosen theme, the participating printmakers of LA HUELLA MAGISTRAL: HOMAGE TO MASTER PRINTMAKERS, created mostly traditional portraits to honor their teachers. Yet they deftly customized their sensitive portraits by working in their mentors’ preferred medium or recognizable style. Following a Puerto Rican tradition, for instance, Marcos Dimas’ itaglio of his mentor, Carlos Raquel Rivera, shows him honoring his own colleague, Carlos Osorio, by creating a poster in Osorio’s style.
Each work in this portfolio also displays its author’s evident love of printmaking, their pleasure in the chosen medium. Nitza Tufiño and Kay Brown create masterful woodcut portraits, utilizing the preferred medium of their mentors, respectively, Lorenzo Homar and Antonio Frasconi. Homar was single-handedly responsible for training several generations of Puerto Rican printmakers, while Antonio Frasconi led a renaissance of the woodcut in Latin America. Malaquías Montoya and Juan Fuentes skillfully compose their powerful silkscreen portraits of Rini Templeton and Rupert García with saturated color patches; Sandra Fernández, uses color sparingly to frame Sam Coronado’s commanding face, as does Betty Perez Cole in portraying gentle María Somoza.
In depicting their mentors (Bob Blackburn, Rafael Tufiño and Luis Jiménez, respectively), Luanda Lozano, Eliezer Berríos, and Ramiro Rodríguez chose the starkness of light/dark contrast to convey their subjects’ larger-than-life personalities, who influenced countless young artists. Blackburn trained innumerable artists of Latino and African American backgrounds, welcoming them to his Printmaking Workshop on West 17th street. Rafael Tufiño, born in Brooklyn, became a symbol of Puerto Rican art, a living cultural bridge between the islands of Manhattan and Puerto Rico.
Chicano Luis Jiménez seems afire with creative inspiration as he works on the lithographic stone; author Ramiro Rodriguez comments: The layered history of a lithographic stone being drawn upon by one artist, etched, printed, ground down, and reused by the same or another artist countless times is fascinating to me. I like to think that some of that creative energy continues to reside in the molecules of the stone.
The masterful blending of text and image, an essential quality for effective advocacy in printmaking, is manifest in a number of prints: Poli Marichal and Pepe Coronado’s tributes to Elizabeth Catlett, and Jaime Montiel’s to Rini Templeton; Paul del Bosque’s beautiful cartouche honoring Leopoldo Méndez; and the teasingly camouflaged quote in Fuentes’ striking portrait of Rupert García
Two fine prints take allegorical forms: Rene Arceo’s delicate linocut crafts a lovely tribute to Francisco Goya as a bridge between European and non-Western cultures, just as his own graphic workshop promotes international exchanges through printmaking. Joseph Segura’s homage to Rufino Tamayo, one of Mexico’s most creative practitioners of the graphics arts, proposes cryptic clues to his work. Francesco Siqueiros’ lithograph offers a double portrait in three registers: bottom, a reproduction of an extraordinary monotype by master printmaker, Cuban Belkis Ayón, whose mysterious spiritual world inspired him: middle, a glimpse of his self-portrait; top: a photographic image of two tools, symbols of his trade as an contemporary, experimental printmaker.
Ricardo Serment’s moving linocut honors Elena Huerta as artist- educator engaged in practicing the highest calling: teaching children. It synthesizes the ideal mandate of HUELLA MAGISTRAL’s participating artists and their mentors — imparting artistic strategies to help disseminate essential values of justice and equality to future generations. The indissoluble whole of their life and work embodies the vision of Urugüayan writer Eduardo Galeano:
By culture, we understood the creation of a place of common discovery among people… We wanted to talk to people, to give them once again their voice. Culture is communication or it is nothing.
Susana Torruella Leval New York, September 2017
All programs are made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. Taller Boricua is also funded in part by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the New York City Council, Consejo Gráfico, the Puerto Rican Workshop Inc. and individual contributors.