Guardians of Their Art: The Contemporary Peruvian Amazon

Guardians of Their Art: The Contemporary Peruvian Amazon
peruNov. 10 – Dec. 9, 2016
William Johnston Building Gallery – Florida State University
143 Honors Way, Tallahassee, FL 32304
Artists: Christian Bendayán, Lastenia Canayo, Silvana Pestana, Gerardo Petsaín, Roldán Pinedo, Adrián Portugal, Brus Rubio
Exhibition curated by the students of the Museum Object Course (Fall 2016) of the Department of Art History at FSU, guided by the instructor Gabriela Germana.
 Amazonian art is not a closed and homogeneous category; rather, at the present it is a space for new and multiple explorations by artists coming from different perspectives.
Through a group of pieces that include embroideries, paintings, printings, and photographs, this show seeks to introduce contemporary Peruvian art about and from the Amazon to the local audience. The exhibit will highlight the diversity of the artists and their backgrounds, how the Amazon has influenced the work of the artists, and how the urban and natural landscapes surrounding the artists interact with their art.
The show will display the works of each individual artist grouped together, but at the same time will organize the art into the main categories of nature, myths, and people/daily life to stress common topics and the relationship among the artists.
Today Amazonian art is not only made in the Amazon, but every artist captivated by this region becomes an “amazonist” and in their way, and in their own perspective, is a guardian of their art.
The pieces selected for this exhibition have been generously borrowed by Christian Bendayán and Bufeo / amazonía+arte, a gallery dedicated to the research and promotion of Amazonian art, located in Lima, Peru.

– EL


Mexico City Celebrates its First Ever Day of the Dead Parade

From The Guardian

Mexico City’s James Bond-inspired Day of the Dead parade gets mixed reviews

Thousands attend spectacle, but others bemoan changing face of festival traditionally marked by more intimate celebrations.

A tradition that normally takes place in private homes or at candle-lit cemetery sites was transformed this year by the silver screen – specifically the James Bond film Spectre.

“Day of the Dead is always something in Mexico City that is celebrated, though in a more serious way,” Enrique de la Madrid, the country’s tourism secretary, told the Guardian. “It’s a deeply rooted tradition in Mexico, but what we decided to do is a festival.”

The city government and Mexican tourism officials were inspired by parts of last year’s Bond film, which were filmed in Mexico City and featured 007 chasing a villain through a Day of the Dead celebration in the historical centre.

The official parade on Saturday attracted thousands of people with its full spectacle of skulls and skeletons, oceans of marigolds and catrinas (stylised skeleton costumes depicting high-society figures).

“It’s great that we can celebrate and remember our deceased loved ones,” said Jesús Arreola, 21, a brewery worker who was strolling along the parade route.

Day of the Dead dates back to the Aztec period and celebrants believe the spirits of their deceased loved ones return for a visit. Families build altars adored with photographs, votive candles and items the deceased enjoyed such as food and drink – even tequila or mezcal.

Day of the Dead has remained popular despite predictions the US import of Halloween would wipe it out.

Women wear skeleton masks during a procession organized by sex workers to remember their deceased colleagues ahead of the Day of the Dead parade
 Women wear skeleton masks during a procession organized by sex workers to remember their deceased colleagues ahead of the Day of the Dead parade. Photograph: Ginnette Riquelme/Reuters

But Saturday’s parade did not go down well with everyone. Some on social media pointed to it as another populist pitch from a local government famous for opening the world’s biggest ice rink, building urban beaches and having a fetish for setting world records such as taking the biggest ever selfie.

“This is a cheap stunt,” tweeted Esteban Illades, editor of the magazine Nexos. “They film James Bond here and now we have the ‘traditional Day of the Dead parade’.Let’s see what happens when (the mayor) finishes reading The Da Vinci Code.”

The parade came as Mexico approaches the 11th the year of its crackdown on drug cartels and organised crime, a conflict that has cost an estimated 150,000 lives.

Shawn Haley, a Canadian who lives in southern Oaxaca state, and studies Day of the Dead, sayid the tradition had been evolving since 2000, when he started seeing parades and processions. He predicted it would continue its transformation into a less spiritual occasion, especially in urban areas.

“We are seeing the transition from a private family celebration with folks who truly believed the dead family members returned home to a much more community oriented event [which] has removed much of the sincere belief,” Haley said.

“In the smaller villages, the private family celebration of the Day of the Dead goes on … and family is what keeps the Day of the Dead going.”

David Agren in Mexico City




American Latino Museum

60 million Americans, whose rich history spans more than 500 years, are being left out of the national story. We need a National Smithsonian American Latino Museum on our National Mall.

That is why today we launched #BuildMuseumsNotWalls, a new campaign to push Congress to move forward and make the American Latino Museum a reality. In our current political climate, it’s more important than ever.

It’s been five years since National Museum of the American Latino Commission addressed the President and Congress with a recommendation that we create this museum and more than two decades since the Smithsonian itself recommended building this museum. Yet still, we don’t have our home on the National Mall. With this year’s important opening of the National Museum for African American History and Culture, Latinos’ absence in the federal monuments to our country’s culture is even more stark.

It’s time for Congress to take action by passing the Smithsonian American Latino Museum Act, H.R. 6001/S. 3314, and finally give Latinos their rightful place among our federal monuments and historic places.

Sign the petition HERE and get your name on the record as a supporter of the National Smithsonian American Latino Museum.

Learn more about the campaign here.

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– EL

Paint the Revolution: Mexican Modernism, 1910–1950

Self-Portrait on the Border Line between Mexico and the United States (Autorretrato en la frontera entre México y los Estados Unidos), 1932


Philadelphia Museum of Art
October 25, 2016 – January 8, 2017
Witness an extraordinary moment in the history of modern art, one fueled by cultural and political revolution.

From the start of the Mexican Revolution in 1910 to the aftermath of World War II, artists and intellectuals in Mexico were at the center of a great debate about their country’s destiny. The exhibition tells the story of this exhilarating period through a remarkable range of images, from masterpieces by Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco, David Alfaro Siqueiros, Frida Kahlo, and Rufino Tamayo to transfixing works by their contemporaries Dr. Atl, María Izquierdo, Roberto Montenegro, Carlos Mérida, Manuel Álvarez Bravo, and many others.Paint the Revolution offers a deep look at the forces that shaped modern art in Mexico, the progress of which was closely watched around the world. The exhibition takes its name from an impassioned essay by American novelist John Dos Passos, who saw Mexico’s revolutionary murals during a visit to Mexico City in 1926–27.In addition to featuring portable murals, easel paintings, photographs, prints, books, and broadsheets, the exhibition will display murals by the Tres grandes (Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco, and David Alfaro Siqueiros) in digital form.The Philadelphia Museum of Art presents this landmark exhibition in partnership with the Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City. Drawn from US and Mexican collections, it is the most comprehensive exhibition of Mexican modernism to be shown in the United States in more than seven decades.

For more information (exhibition catalog, Philadelphia Museum collection of Mexican art, exhibition video) please click here.


Competition for the 2017 ALAA Book Award


Competition for the 2017 Book Award

The Association of Latin American Art, an affiliate of the College Art Association, announces its Seventeenth Annual Book Award for the best scholarly book published on the art of Latin America from the Pre-Columbian era to the present. The award is generously funded by the Arvey Foundation and consists of a citation and a $1,000 honorarium. We will present the award at the annual meeting of the College Art Association in New York in February 2017. The name of the recipient will appear in the newsletters of both ALAA and CAA.

For the February 2017 Award, we will evaluate books on Latin American Art from Pre- Columbian to the present that meet the following criteria:

  • Publication date between September 1, 2015 and August 31, 2016.
  • Books may be written in English, Spanish, or Portuguese.
  • Books may have one or more authors.
  • Multi-authored exhibition catalogues with a substantive text that advances art
  • historical knowledge also can be considered.
  • Edited volumes/anthologies of individual articles that are consistent in terms of both theme and quality will also be considered.The books will be evaluated by a three-person committee of accomplished art historians, each with expertise in a wide geographical and temporal range.Publishers, authors, and others must contact Charlene Villaseñor Black by October 1, 2016 to verify whether a prospective entry is eligible for the competition according to the above criteria. Please include the following information: Title, author(s) and a general description of subject. If the book appears eligible, she will provide mailing addresses for all three committee members. Copies of books are to be sent directly to each, and can be sent at any time over the summer but must be received no later than November 15, 2016.

    Questions may be addressed to Dr. Charlene Villaseñor Black, Department of Art History, 100 Dodd Hall, 405 Hilgard Ave., University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA 90095

CFP LASA2017: Visual Literacies in Contemporary Latin America

Dear ALAA Members,

Please see below for details on our session for LASA2017. The deadline for abstract submissions is Sept. 4th. Don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions and please circulate this call to anyone who may be interested.

Thanks and best,

Lesley Wolff, Florida State University


Call for Papers, LASA 2017

Lima, Peru, April 29 – May 1

Session Title: Visual Literacies in Contemporary Latin America: Post-Resistance?


Sub Track: Art, Architecture and Visual Culture


Session Co-organizers: Lesley Wolff, FSU (, Gabriela Germaná, FSU (, and Jennifer Baez, FSU (


Deadline: September 4, 2016


Session Abstract: Building upon Beyond the Lettered City’s significant contribution to Latin American art history, this session encourages further dialogue about visual literacies, the production of viewing publics, and new socio-economic boundaries in contemporary Latin American visual culture. In response to the colonial dynamics of oppression and mimesis that persist and evolve in tandem with art market forces, this session considers vernacular visual and material tactics through which contemporary makers subvert political hegemony. By complicating how and to what ends folk arts, heritage processes, foodways, and other unconventional visual literacies intervene into the institutionalized socio-political landscape, this session explores the means by which such practices complicate and break down colonial dynamics.

Sobre la base de la importante contribución de Beyond the Lettered City a la historia del arte latinoamericano, esta sesión busca continuar el diálogo acerca de los conocimientos visuales, la producción de públicos, y los nuevos límites socioeconómicos en la cultura visual de América Latina. En respuesta a las dinámicas coloniales de opresión y mímesis que persisten y evolucionan en tándem con las fuerzas del mercado del arte, esta sesión considera las tácticas visuales y materiales vernáculas a través de las cuales los creadores contemporáneos subvierten la hegemonía política. Analizando desde una perspectiva compleja cómo y para qué las artes populares, los procesos del patrimonio, las costumbres alimenticias, y otros conocimientos visuales poco convencionales intervienen en el panorama socio-político institucionalizado, esta sesión explora los medios por los cuales estas prácticas de las dinámicas coloniales complejizan y descomponen las dinámicas coloniales.

Paper Topics May Include (as they pertain to contemporary Latin America):

  • Vernacular or informal visual culture
  • Subaltern visual culture / Subversive artistic practices
  • Indigenous artistic practices
  • Folk arts
  • Foodways
  • Visual aspects of local ceremonial or processional practices
  • Arts that address political imbalances or notions of resistance
  • Visual cultures of incarceration

Please submit an abstract (in English or Spanish) of no more than 250 words to Lesley Wolff ( by September 4, 2016. For LASA2017 submission guidelines, please see:

CAA CFP: “Outmanned and Outgunned”

Chairs: Faye Gleisser, Indiana University; Delia Solomons, Drexel University Emails:

In 1961, Che Guevara outlined a key strategy for implementing counterinsurgency: “the principal source of provision for the guerrilla force is precisely in the enemy armaments.” This mandate—to steal your enemy’s weapons—appeared in Guerrilla Warfare, a manual designed to assist small oppositional bands across the globe in potential uprisings against colonial, neocolonial, and dictatorial governments. Guevara’s methods were also quickly adapted for artistic and cultural production. Since the 1960s, artists have appropriated the literal and figurative weaponry of their adversaries to intervene in asymmetrical power structures. This panel invites papers that examine how artists have incorporated and reinvented enemy armaments in order to expose or challenge the governmental, financial, societal, and art-world institutions that seem to possess limitless power. We seek to investigate the very notion of ammunition, encompassing the representation of artillery in art and visual culture, as well as more expansive metaphors of armed propaganda, shooting/being shot (photographically), historical misfiring, and caliber/morality. Papers may also consider how artworks have constructed legible enemies, opened up dialogue about race and injustice, and operated under conditions of being outmanned, outgunned, and up in arms. Additionally, we are interested in papers that confront our current landscape of violence, the polarizing rhetoric surrounding gun ownership, and the ways in which the possession or appropriation of artillery has been instrumentalized to protect mythologies of American exceptionalism.

Proposals are due August 30.
Please see the CAA Call for Participation for detailed submission guidelines:


Summer Reading

Summer, for me, always evokes the reading lists of childhood.  I think of reading competitions and heading to the library to check out something new before the school year begins.  If you’re looking for a good summer read before the syllabi beckon, here are a few fiction options from one of last year’s reviews: The Guardian’s Review of 2015’s Best Latin American Books.TheUncomfortableDead

At the top of my “to do” pleasure reading list is a work by the author Paco Ignacio Taibo II.  I think I’ll start with The Uncomfortable Dead, a work reportedly co-written with Subcomandante Marcos, the former leader of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation.  Taibo’s central character is a one-eyed private investigator who marvels at the street life that surrounds him in Mexico City.  NPR conducted an interview with the author in 2012, found here.

What is at the top of your summer reading list?  Do you have a shining recommendation?


CFP: ALAA at CAA 2017

Association for Latin American Art (ALAA)
The Evolving Canon: Collecting and Displaying Spanish Colonial Art
Chair(s): Ilona Katzew, Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Ellen Dooley, Los Angeles County Museum of Art
This panel seeks to critically address the place of Spanish colonial art within the larger canon of art history through the lens of collecting and display. Despite a long-held interest among collectors in Spanish colonial art, it has only been in the last two decades or so that museums, universities, and the art market have seriously engaged with the material. Spanning a wide chronological range—from the early modern period to the present—this panel will explore the history of collecting Spanish colonial art globally, and how interest in the field is actively shifting the art historical canon and the ways we look at this period of artistic production. How have collectors, both individual and corporate, influenced trends and tastes? How do we classify and categorize artists not traditionally considered mainstream? Has growing access to objects and scholarship affected perceived notions of quality and authorship? How do scholars navigate this quickly expanding field of inquiry? Possible topics may include historiographical ones addressing the history of collecting Spanish colonial art in the Americas, Europe, and Asia; theoretical ones dealing with notions of connoisseurship and the evolving canon; valorizations of the material (current and past) and the implications of these assessments for the future of the field. Case studies as well as broader historical contributions are welcome, as well as papers that look at a wide range of media—paintings, sculpture, decorative arts, textiles, and so forth.
Potential Subject Areas:
1) Art History-Latin American/Caribbean Art; 2) Interdisciplinary-Museum Studies/Curatorial Studies/Art Criticism
Open Session for Emerging Scholars of Latin American Art
Chair(s): Elisa C. Mandell, California State University, Fullerton; Ana Mannarino, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro
Each year increasing numbers of scholars are awarded doctoral degrees in Latin American art history. This session seeks to highlight the scholarship of advanced graduate and recent Ph.D. scholars. Papers may address any geographic region, theme, or temporal period related to the study of Latin American art or art history, including Caribbean, Central American, and Latinx topics.
Potential Subject Areas:
1) Art History-Latin American/Caribbean Art; 2) Art History-Pre-Columbian Art
Proposals for papers are due to session chairs by August 30, 2016. See the 2017 linked below for full instructions.
See the full 2017 Call for Participation for more panels.

Opening 6/11/16 at the San Antonio Museum of Art: “Highest Heaven”


Highest Heaven: Spanish and Portuguese Colonial Art

June 11 – September 4, 2016

Cowden Gallery

Highest Heaven, opening at the San Antonio Museum of Art on June 11, explores the paintings, sculpture, furniture, ivories and silverworks of the Altiplano, or high plains, of South America in the 18th century. Through the work of both well-regarded masters and lesser-known artists, Highest Heaven highlights the role of art in the establishment of new city centers in the Spanish Empire, and the propagation of the Christian faith among indigenous peoples. Drawn exclusively from the distinguished collection of Roberta and Richard Huber, the exhibition highlights the distinct visual language created by the cultural and creative exchanges that occurred between Spain and Portugal and their South American colonies. The exhibition will remain on view through September 4, 2016, before traveling to the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento, California in October, and to the Worcester Art Museum in Worcester, Massachusetts the following March.

The exhibition features more than 100 works, including religious paintings, carved and gilded wooden sculptures, intimate ivories, and silverwork, originally housed in ecclesiastical and private collections throughout the former colonial possessions of Spain and Portugal. The majority of these works were created for functional purposes, as articles of faith or symbols of civic order, and were displayed in a manner that enhanced religious understanding, brought social order, and spurred conversion among colonial populations. Highest Heaven examines these uses, focusing in particular on the translation of Christian imagery to the colonies and the ways in which these works and objects worked to establish an ordered society and were integrated into religious life. The exhibition includes approximately 20 recent acquisitions by the Hubers, many of which have never before been seen in a museum exhibition.  [. . .]

Highlights from the exhibition, include:

  • Our Lady of the Rosary of Pomata, Bolivia, 17th Century, a moving example of the painted portrayals of the dressed virgin, which mimicked the practice of dressing statues of the Virgin for ceremonies and festivals. This painting style was unique to the Spanish Colonial world, and highlighted the incorporation of the Virgin into the experience of common life.
  • Christ Descending Into Hell, a large 18th Century Peruvian painting that dramatically shows a heroic Christ redeeming the souls of humanity—and one of the Hubers’ recent acquisitions;
  • A portrait of the Countess of Monteblanco and Miranar, attributed to the 18th-Century Peruvian painter Cristobal Lozano. A splendid portrait of one of the wealthiest women in the Viceroyalty of Peru, the painting shows how the Colonial elite of the New World displayed their status through elaborate representations that enumerated their sophistication and power;
  • Rest on the Flight Into Egypt, an 18th Century Bolivian painting that humanizes the Holy Family. It shows the Virgin Mary washing the Christ Child’s diapers, while recognizably South American flora and fauna populate the background;
  • Christ Child as Salvator Mundi, an extraordinary Indo-Portuguese ivory sculpture that communicates the humanity and lovability of the Christ Child and depicts a vision of perfect peace and the promise of salvation. These intimate, small scale sculptures were carved by craftsmen in the Spanish and Portuguese possessions of Goa and the Philippines and exported throughout the Colonial World as objects for devotion, testifying to the global nature of the Colonial art world;
  • An 18th Century Peruvian Pax, with a scene of Christ revealed to the people after his trial by Pontius Pilate. Made from the abundant silver deposits in the Viceroyalty of Peru, this devotional tablets were used in Mass as an object of veneration.