Nuestro Andar Florece by artist, muralist, arts educator and filmmaker Michelle Angela Ortiz, is located on the wall of Mixteca Organization in Brooklyn, NY. Mixteca is a community-based organization established by “a group of concerned community members to address critical needs in health, education, social and legal issues facing the burgeoning Mexican and Latin American immigrant community in Brooklyn”.
About the mural from the artist’s website-
Nuestro Andar Florece (Our Journey Blooms), celebrates the stories of Mexican immigrant women that have planted their roots in Brooklyn, New York. As part of the Barrio Roots Festival that took place in late October 2016, I led this mural project along with artist Federico Zuvire. The project was supported by Habitajes. They offered a series of creative workshops at Mixteca Organization with women that shared their immigration stories. The women are mothers, students, educators, and some survivors of domestic violence that found a new home in New York. The women decided on the messages that are conveyed in the mural. For three weeks, the artists, workshop participants, local Brooklyn artists, and neighbors participated in the creation of the mural.
The film above Translators, directed by Rudy Valdez, was a standout. The moving documentary short tells the story of three children in the U.S. who, as the only English speakers in the family, help their parents by translating for them. You can watch it in full for free on the film’s website, linked above.
Angel Rivera Morales, “Dystopian Paradise I, II, and III”, 2023, Acrylic and oil on canvas
Gilbert Salinas, “As We Speak”, 2022, Mixed media on canvas
Juan Nieves Burgos, “Germinar de patria” and “Mundo sin tiranos”, 2019; Carmen Rojas Gines, “She Warrior-SW3 “Guerrera”-G3″, Steel metal
Valentin Tirado Barreto, “Salcedos Death- La Muerte de Salcedo” and “Rebellion of the slaves- Rebelión”, Acrylic on canvas
Currently at Creative Pinellas is the group exhibition Keepers of Heritage: Hidden Tales / Custodios de la Herencia: Cuentos Ocultos, on view until 10/15/23.
From the Creative Pinellas website-
Keepers of Heritage is an extended collaborative effort whose purpose is to document, present and promote the contributions of artists of Puerto Rican artists in the Caribbean archipelago and abroad.
Its roots go back to 2015 with the presentation of the “La Diaspora” exhibition at the Terrace Gallery in Orlando City Hall. Since then, the collective has expanded and traveled to institutions such as the National Museum for Puerto Rican Arts and Culture in Chicago, the Appleton Museum of Art in Ocala, and the Albin Polasek Museum in Winter Park, Florida.
Over eight years, the collective has documented and presented the work of nearly 30 artists whose artistic practices include a diversity of mediums such as painting, drawing, sculpture, engraving, multimedia, and photography.
He is currently showing his work at The Little House, located at 451 N. La Cienega Blvd. in Los Angeles, presented by Dries Van Noten.
From their press release-
On view will be a selection of recent work by Sam Falls which merges photography, painting, and installation which results in captivating pieces that invite viewers to explore the relationship between humans and the environment. The works in the exhibition offer a meditation on the sublime dichotomy of mortality, including ceramics combining fossilized images of nature and the human form, as well as found airbags from crashed cars that are embroidered with symbolic idioms on the transience of time and life quoted from ancient Greek and Roman sundials.
Falls’ artistic process explores the varying representations of nature and materials through the passage of time. Rain, sunlight, wind, and the gradual effects of weathering all contribute to the unique aesthetic of each piece, creating a dialogue between art and nature that captures the essence of life represented in time and space. By exposing his artwork to elements, he invites the environment to act as a collaborator in reinterpreting organic materials into new forms.
Launched in 2006 to support the next wave of contemporary portraiture in the United States, the National Portrait Gallery’s celebrated triennial Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition is a major survey of the best American portraiture selected by internationally prominent jurors and curators. Now in its sixth edition, The Outwin: American Portraiture Today presents 42 works selected from over 2,700 entries, that foreground the vibrancy and relevance of portraiture today. In addition to paintings, photographs, drawings, and sculptures, The Outwin includes video, performance art, and textiles, highlighting the limitless possibilities of contemporary portraiture.
Open to both emerging and established artists, this year’s entrants were encouraged to submit work that moves beyond traditional definitions of portraiture, and to explore a portrait’s ability to engage with the social and political landscape of our time. The variety of media and subjects featured in the exhibition invite audiences of all backgrounds to find relation in the human experience.
Since its inception, finalists for the exhibition have been determined by a panel of jurors including three Portrait Gallery staff members and four external professionals (critics, art historians, artists). The competition is endowed by and named for Virginia Outwin Boochever (1920 – 2005) who, for 19 years, volunteered as a docent at the Portrait Gallery. Her commitment to advancing the art of portraiture is continued through the support of her children.
Below are a selection of works from the show and information about them from the museum.
On walks around her Brooklyn neighborhood during the COVID-19 lockdowns, Alison Elizabeth Taylor encountered the hair groomer Anthony Payne, who,with his workplace shuttered, had taken his scissors, mirror, and chair to the streets. Payne sought to financially support the Black Lives Matter movement, especially in the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder, and turned over proceeds from his donation-based haircuts to organizations advocating for social justice.
Taylor’s process, one she developed and named “marquetry hybrid,” incorporates vivid paints, inkjet prints, and the natural grains of over one hundred veneers. Marquetry, with its inlaid combination of woods, can “memorialize,” Taylor notes. She acknowledges the history of the craft, which was favored by Louis XIV (1654-1715) when he was acquiring furniture for Versailles. By giving Payne this “royal treatment,” Taylor aims to pay tribute to him.”I want him to see how much his example meant to me,” she explained.
Kira Nam Greene, “Kyung’s Gift in Pojagi (From the series “Women in Possession of Good Fortune”)”, 2019 Oil, gouache, colored pencil, and acrylic ink on canvas
Kira Nam Greene– Kyung’s Gift in Pojagi (From the series “Women in Possession of Good Fortune”), 2019
In this mixed-media work, by Kira Nam Greene, the artist Kyung Jeon faces us with relaxed self-assurance. She is carefully positioned on her couch as her long black hair falls over her orange and turquoise tunic. In the foreground, a wooden cylinder containing paint brushes reveals her medium of choice. A plate with persimmons, consumed during the harvest festival Chuseok to celebrate good fortune, brims with potential while the rest of the painting pulsates with action.
Greene situates her friend in a fantasy world that echoes Jeon’s artwork and their mutual interest in the traditional Korean fabric quilting technique of pojagi. Two rabbits, representing Jeon’s Chinese zodiac, appear to be concocting a potion. Flowers sprout as kaleidoscopic patterns envelop her. The reference to pojagi, the visible paint drips in the background painting, and the hands of the sitter- left unfinished- invoke the role of tradition, process, and exploration in artmaking.
Stuart Robertson, “Self Portrait of the Artist” from the “Out and Bad” series, 2020, Aluminum, earth, acrylic paint, enamel, paper,metallic bubble wrap, sequins, and gold foil on wood
“In my world, skin is high-tech, amorphous, and armored,” the artist Stuart Robertson observes. “Blackness is percussive, lustrous, flexible, and indestructible.” Self-Portrait of the Artist depicts a fragment of a man- half of his face and his upper torso-shiny and monumental. A black beard delineates his jaw, and a small gold hoop adorns his ear. Although the figure is cropped beyond recognition, the work’s title provides a clue.
Through the alternation of flat and repoussé aluminum sheets, Robertson achieves a hypnotic effect, a poignant tension playing on what he reveals or hides from us viewers. His refusal to depict his entire face or figure challenges the notion of what a portrait should be and blocks the objectification of the Black male body, so often sexualized in visual culture. Simultaneously, Robertson delivers an irrepressible, resplendent image of that body, one inspired by the aesthetics of Jamaica’s dancehall culture.
Vincent Valdez, “People of the Sun (Grandma and Grandpa Santana)”, 2019, Oil on canvas
An elderly couple faces us with the gentle authority that old age provides. People of the Sun (Grandma and Grandpa Santana) is a portrait of Vincent Valdez’s maternal grandparents. “My grandparents spent most of their time outside,” the artist recalled. “Grandpa spent his entire life working under the blazing Texas sun as a carpenter and yard worker, cutting lawns in the wealthy communities of San Antonio right up until he passed away. Grandma was constantly working with her hands–raising kids, washing, sewing clothes, and tending the plants in her yard.”
The Santanas are depicted in a space defined by details the artist remembers: their vintage AM radio, their plants, their homemade clothes. The bedsheet, like the Virgen de Guadalupe’s aura, signals their spiritual role in the family. This portrait connects the pair to the Indigenous and mestizo cultures of the American Southwest, including the Aztec and Maya, who honored the sun.
For more work from the exhibition, please head to page 2.
Athena LaTocha creates large-scale works inspired by her close observations of the natural world, from the deserts and mountains of the Southwest to the Great Plains. She often incorporates elements of these environments, including soil, sand, bark, and rocks. Recently, she has been particularly drawn to trees, considering them as record keepers that bear the markings of time.
Inspired by Green-Wood’s centuries-old trees and its legacy as a place of remembrance, LaTocha has created The Remains of Winter. She cloaked the remains of two massive European beeches on Battle Hill in thin sheets of lead, a material that has been used for centuries in coffins to slow the decomposition of the body. By hand-forming this malleable metal onto the trees, LaTocha captures the unique details of their shapes and forms, even as they slowly degrade beneath the lead.
All around these sculptures, the Cemetery is in a continuous cycle of transformation. Felled trees are turned into mulch for new plantings, earth is removed then replaced for each new burial, and even the stone monuments themselves slowly erode. Through The Remains of Winter, LaTocha memorializes these shifts and changes while also raising profound questions about what we choose to commemorate and mourn—whether it is what we can witness before us or that which, like the movement of continents and land masses, unfolds over lifetimes.
The sculptures will remain on view through September 2023.
The Highwaymen are a group of African American artists celebrated for their distinctive paintings of Florida’s natural environment. Working in and around the Fort Pierce area beginning in the 1950s, these self-taught artists depicted the state’s scenic coastline and wild backcountry, often in dazzling combinations of color and tone. Brilliant tropical sunsets, windblown palms, towering sunlit clouds, and blooming poinciana trees are among the many subjects that have become iconic images of Florida in part because of the paintings that the Highwaymen created. In the state’s postwar boom years their paintings found an enthusiastic audience among a growing population of new residents and visitors. Unrecognized by the region’s art establishment of galleries and museums, the Highwaymen by necessity catered directly to their patrons, selling their paintings door-to-door along such thoroughfares as Route 1. It was from this practice that the name “Highwaymen” was later coined.
The popularity of Highwaymen paintings waned in the 1980s as the vision of Florida was reimagined by an ever-increasing population and once-pristine landscapes were lost to development. Then in the mid-1990s a new generation of collectors, with fresh eyes, rediscovered the paintings and began to assemble significant collections. These collectors saw the art of the Highwaymen as an important artistic legacy and together with several writers, scholars, and enthusiasts began the process of establishing the historical context and reevaluation of their work. Books and articles followed, bringing a new level of recognition for the achievements of these artists and, with that, growing popular acclaim. The contribution of the Highwaymen to the cultural life of Florida was formally recognized in 2004 when the group of 26 artists was inducted into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame.
Living Color: The Art of the Highwaymen brings together 60 paintings by a core group of the Highwaymen including Al Black, Mary Ann Carroll, Willie Daniels, Johnny Daniels, James Gibson, Alfred Hair, Roy McLendon, Harold Newton, Sam Newton, Willie Reagan, and Livingston Roberts.
Focusing on work produced from the 1950s to the 1980s, the exhibition is an in-depth examination of the group’s initial period of success when their groundbreaking style of fast painting was being developed. Fast painting is a hallmark and essential innovation of the Highwaymen. Facing limitations imposed by the racial prejudice of their time, they had little or no access to formal training or to conventional art markets. To overcome these obstacles, they produced large numbers of works which could be sold at very affordable prices. Some estimates of the group’s overall production during their heyday exceed 200,000 paintings, with certain artists creating dozens of paintings per day. Their creative response to the racism they confronted resulted in an original artistic practice.
This installation represents both the reality and fantasy. The reality is depicted in the inspiring monumental architecture, while the fantasy emerges in the joyful addition of a swimming club with a celebration of swimming, sunbathing, recreation and play. For Rush, the work is a homage to Impressionist painters like Monet and Suerat, and the way that they depicted urban and rural pleasures. This is a group project between Rush and three of his students from High School Visual Arts at Packer Collegiate Institute in Brooklyn Heights.
Music producer Rick Rubin’s book, The Creative Act: A Way of Being, is a quick and enjoyable read. The short chapters are broken up with smaller ideas, like the ones pictured above. Although a lot of it felt familiar, there were definitely moments and ideas that were helpful and even inspirational. His advice on editing and completing creative projects I found particularly useful. Others may find they get more out of other sections.
If you don’t know much about Rubin’s career, he’s had an amazing creative journey himself. From founding the famous Def Jam label in college and playing in a punk band to producing albums and songs for a wide variety of musicians. From early hip hop artists to Red Hot Chili Peppers to Johnny Cash and Jay Z to Adele- it’s worth checking out his wide range of work.
Below is LL Cool J’sGoing Back to Cali which Rubin co-wrote and produced. Rubin talks about working on this song, as well as many others, in this article in Rolling Stone magazine.