Puerto Rican Artist Communities
By Chicago Art Magazine on Sep 01, 2010 in Featured, Reviews
This article is not a roundup of Puerto Rican artists. It’s not about Puerto Rican identity art. This article is about prominent, talented artists that exhibit art in self-identified Puerto Rican exhibition spaces, or in similarly themed shows. This is an extremely important distinction, as there are many fine artists of Puerto Rican decent who aren’t on this list because they don’t exhibit in these particular venues and shows. What this article wishes to describe, however, is a community of linked galleries in an particular area that makes such strong work, it deserves wider recognition by the larger art community that may be unfamiliar with this amazing area and group of artists.
Josué Pellot is a sculptor, who considers even his work in other mediums to be extensions of his sculpture practice and shows regularly in Chicago, Puerto Rico and the UK. His work is anything but traditional, however, as he often utilizes the language and form of everyday life to critical and humorous effect. He once installed neon light pieces in the window of La Municipal Supermarket (2559 W. Division) just in time for the Puerto Rican Day Parade. Easily mistaken for alcohol advertisements, the pieces actually depicted moments from the European colonization of the Americas, suggestively reminding onlookers of the racism and oppression of their not-so-distant past. He has also infiltrated a “Boricua toy” vending machine in Humboldt Park, purchasing it, toys and all, from the distributor and adding renditions of himself and his family to the navel-baring female and paint gun-toting male figurines sold within for fifty cents. He currently has a solo exhibition, Pellot Gonzalez Rios, at the Hyde Park Art Center that is up through August 22nd, the content of which focuses on his family and childhood in Puerto Rico. He recently took his first venture into filmmaking, making I’m the Queen with colleague Henrique Cirne-Lima, a documentary about a 2009 beauty pageant for Puerto Rican, transgendered youth from Paseo Boricua. The film will screen at the Hyde Park Art Center Saturday August 14th.