Since the 1960s, the Arkansas Arts Center has worked to showcase artists from a variety of backgrounds. This year, Dr. Todd Herman and his staff brought two outstanding exhibits to Little Rock.
From April to June, the Arkansas Arts Center was home to 30 Americans.
30 Americans showcased works by many of the most important African American artists of the last three decades. This provocative exhibition focused on issues of racial, sexual, and historical identity in contemporary culture while exploring the powerful influence of artistic legacy and community across generations.
“This exhibition presents a sweeping survey of artwork by many of the most influential African-American artists of the last four decades,” said Arkansas Arts Center executive director Todd Herman. “For years, I’ve searched for an exhibition of this kind but couldn’t quite find what I was looking for – an exhibition with powerful interpretations of cultural identity and artistic legacy. When I came across 30 Americans, I knew this was exactly what I wanted patrons and visitors of the Arts Center to experience. These themes are universal in nature and speak to the larger human experience.”
30 Americans features work by such early and influential artists as Barkley L. Hendricks, Robert Colescott and Jean-Michel Basquiat, and those of younger and emerging artists, such as Kehinde Wiley, Wangechi Mutu and Shinique Smith. Often provocative and challenging, 30 Americans explores what it means to be a contemporary artist through an African-American point of view – whether addressing issues of race, gender, sexuality, politics or history.
Drawn from the collection of Mera and Don Rubell, 30 Americans contains 41 works in a variety of media – paintings, drawings, sculptures, installations, digital videos and photographs – by 30 of the leading contemporary African American artists. The Rubells began acquiring contemporary art in the late 1960s, often forging close friendships with living artists, particularly young artists.
On display since October and there until January 17, 2016 is Our America: The Latino Presence in American Art.
A major collection of modern and contemporary Latino art from the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the exhibition Our America includes 93 works in all media by 72 artists who participated in various artistic styles and movements, including abstract expressionism; activist, conceptual and performance art and classic American genres such as landscape, portraiture and scenes of everyday life.
Our America presents the rich and varied contributions of Latino artists in the United States since the mid-20th century, when the concept of a collective Latino identity began to emerge. The exhibition is drawn entirely from the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s pioneering collection of Latino art.
Artists featured in the exhibition reflect the rich diversity of Latino communities in the United States. Our Americashowcases artists of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban and Dominican descent, as well as other Latin American groups with deep roots in the United States. By presenting works by artists of different generations and regions, the exhibition reveals recurring themes among artists working across the country.
The 72 artists featured in the exhibition are ADÁL, Manuel Acevedo, Elia Alba, Olga Albizu, Carlos Almaraz, Jesse Amado, Asco (Harry Gamboa Jr., Gronk, Willie Herrón and Patssi Valdez), Luis Cruz Azaceta, Myrna Báez, Guillermo Bejarano, Charles “Chaz” Bojórquez, María Brito, Margarita Cabrera, María Magdalena Campos-Pons, Melesio “Mel” Casas, Leonard Castellanos, Oscar R. Castillo, José Cervantes, Enrique Chagoya, Roberto Chavez, Carlos A. Cortéz, Marcos Dimas, Ricardo Favela, Christina Fernandez, Teresita Fernández, iliana emilia garcía, Rupert García, Scherezade García, Carmen Lomas Garza, Ignacio Gomez, Ken Gonzales-Day, Hector González, Luis C. “Louie the Foot” González, Muriel Hasbun, Ester Hernandez, Judithe Hernández, Carmen Herrera, Carlos Irizarry, Luis Jiménez, Miguel Luciano, Emanuel Martinez, María Martínez-Cañas, Antonio Martorell, Ana Mendieta, Amalia Mesa-Bains, Franco Mondini-Ruiz, Delilah Montoya, Malaquias Montoya, Abelardo Morell, Jesús Moroles, Raphael Montañez Ortiz, Pepón Osorio, Amado M. Peña Jr., Chuck Ramirez, Paul Henry Ramirez, Sophie Rivera, Arturo Rodríguez, Freddy Rodríguez, Joseph Rodríguez, Frank Romero, Emilio Sánchez, Juan Sánchez, Jorge Soto Sánchez, Rafael Soriano, Ruben Trejo, Jesse Treviño, John M. Valadez, Alberto Valdés and Xavier Viramontes.
The exhibition is organized by E. Carmen Ramos, curator of Latino art at the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
Our America: The Latino Presence in American Art is organized by the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Generous support for the exhibition has been provided by Altria Group, the Honorable Aida M. Alvarez, Judah Best, The James F. Dicke Family Endowment, Sheila Duignan and Mike Wilkins, Tania and Tom Evans, Friends of the National Museum of the American Latino, The Michael A. and the Honorable Marilyn Logsdon Mennello Endowment, Henry R. Muñoz III, Wells Fargo and Zions Bank. Additional significant support was provided by The Latino Initiatives Pool, administered by the Smithsonian Latino Center. Support for “Treasures to Go,” the museum’s traveling exhibition program, comes from The C.F. Foundation, Atlanta.