To celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, I was invited to curate an exhibition at the 501 Gallery at Blake High School. Amanda Preuss, a recent graduate of the USF Art History Master’s program, is the new director of the Gallery, and she thought of me because I specialize in Latin American and Caribbean Art at the USF Contemporary Art Museum. We brainstormed about what would be a good fit for the art students at Blake, and decided to do a show that would combine works from the USF Contemporary Art Museum and from the studios of Florida artists. It turned out to be a lovely collaborative project among the faculty and staff at CAM, the faculty at Blake, and the Florida artists.
Amanda Preuss, Director of 501 Gallery at Blake High School. Photo by Leslie Reed.
There were fifteen artists involved, so we decided to call it Quince Artistas/Fifteen Artists, which would make it clear that the show celebrated Hispanic art and artists. It included works from the studios of Edgar Sánchez Cumbas, Vanessa Diaz, Cosme Herrera and Roberto Márquez, whose roots are in Puerto Rico and Cuba. Works by Abel Barroso, Manuel Carrillo, Cecelia Escobar, Carlos Garaicoa, Graciela Iturbide, Los Carpinteros, Jorge Macchi, Omar Rayo, Julio Salas, Francisco Toledo, and Jesús Vázquez, who variously hail from Cuba, Mexico, Colombia and Argentina, were on loan from the USF Collection. Media included photography, printmaking, painting, sculpture, ceramics, and mixed media.
Noel Smith (right) with artist Edgar Sánchez Cumbas. Photo by Leslie Reed.
The opening night coincided with the anniversary of Blake High School and a football match with historic rival Middleton High (Blake later won). Campus was buzzing, with groups of alumni barbecuing aromatic meats and students everywhere, many showing their parents through the exhibition and discussing the works. Several of the artists were in attendance, including Abel Barroso, Edgar Sánchez Cumbas, Roberto Márquez and Cosme Herrera.
Artist Cosme Herrera. Photo by Leslie Reed.
Later in the run of the show I gave a gallery talk to about 50 students. I enjoyed their astute questions and our back and forth conversation.
The students were asked to respond to a work in the show and they produced some beautiful artwork in homage to their favorites. These responses were, for me, the best part of the experience, and some of them are below. We couldn’t include all of them, but collectively they demonstrate the deep pool of talent among the students, and the excellent professional standards of their teachers.
Curator of Latin American and Caribbean Art, USFCAM
Ariel Lee and Raquel Marriott respond to Carlos Garaicoa, Mi última palabra / My Last Word, 2012. 7-run screenprint on self-healing cutting mat. 17-3/4 x 11-7/8 inches. Edition: 20
Leana Rosado responds to Abel Barroso, Tabaco con Ideologia, 2001. Spanish cedar bas-relief cigar box with woodblock print and lithograph scroll. 9 x 16 3/8 x 3 inches. Edition: 20
Laura Gonzalez responds to Los Carpinteros, Sandalia, 2004. Cast rubber sculptures. 12 3/4 x 5 3/4 x 2 1/2 inches each. Edition: 60
Christa Christopher responds to Cecelia Escobar, Pouqueria Purpurii, from Oaxaca Botanical Suite, 2002. etching. 16 3/4 x 13 1/4 inches. Edition: 100.
Kyley Bayliff responds to Cosme Herrera, Creepers.
Catherine Hernandez, Destiny Watkins and Kylie Miller respond to various pieces by Roberto Márquez. Photo of Roberto Márquez by Leslie Reed.
Roberto Márquez, Intimidacíon artificial, 2014. mixed media on ceramic.
Kylen Newcomb responds to Vanessa Diaz
Carly Serrano responds to Omar Rayo.
Works by Omar Rayo (left) and Vanessa Diaz (right).
KJ Grimsley responds to Jesús Vázquez, Isolotocereus dumartieri, from Oaxaca Botanical Suite, 2002. etching. 16 3/4 x 13 1/4 inches. Edition: 100.
Nilsa Gaviria-Martelo responds to Francisco Toledo, Vegetales (from the Garden portfolio), 2001. drypoint etching. 30 in. x 22 in.
Payton Sherer responds to Manuel Carrillo, Woman on Park Bench (San Miguel), 1970. gelatin silver print. 14 in. x 16 in.