A variety of mediums and subjects and overall excellence in craftsmanship are evident in “Diálogos,” an exhibition of work by seven Columbus-area Latino artists.
Installed in the Cardinal Health Gallery at the Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, the exhibit offers a snapshot of experiences and history from the artists’ home countries—Argentina, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, Mexico, and the United States.
“There is a great tradition of fine art throughout South America that Americans don’t know about,” said co-curator Eglé Gatins. “These are serious artists with successful stories.”
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Working with found objects and hand-made paint, Christian Casas, a first-generation Cuban-American, created a large wall installation of alphabet squares in which each letter represents an aspect of Cuban life, starting with F is for Fidel (Castro) to letters that stand for words that describe the Cuban people, geography and history. The installation is bold, colorful and informative.
Elsie Sanchez’s Entredos and Procession are large, abstract oil paintings with layers of color creating overall swirling patterns. The works can be seen near and far, producing feelings of movement and hypnosis. Sanchez, born in Havana, Cuba, immigrated to the United States at age 9.
In her large works in wood, black and gold, Eliana Calle Saari, who was born and raised in Colombia, references life on a Caribbean island as well as Colombian history and culture, including One Hundred Years of Solitude. of Gabriel García Márquez.
A Mexican tradition of portraits of animals and people is reflected in the black and white linocuts of Pedro Prieto Jr. Prieto was born in the United States to Mexican parents.
Mabi Ponce de Léon, who describes herself as a transplanted South American (born in Argentina), visits Peru in her large map, a collage of acrylic and mixed media works on canvas. “I explore what it’s like to ‘be’ from two places and belong to neither,” she writes in her statement.
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The Spanish conquerors’ search for gold – and the cost to South America’s indigenous people – is explored in the handmade paper works of Micaela de Vivero, who grew up in Ecuador. In “Oro no es/Gold, right?” it combines historical drawings with splashes of color including gold thread.
In the intriguing video installation Chapultepec, titled for the large park in Mexico City, Florence Gouvrit-Montano, who is based in Mexico City and Columbus, incorporates the recorded sounds of birds from the park with a soothing, light-colored visual of swaying trees.
Gatins co-curator and artist Elena Osterwalder said that in addition to submitting artwork, each artist was asked to write about their work and how it feels to be a Latino artist in Columbus. Their statements, available to gallery visitors, are rich with context for their works.
“Their work is beautiful in itself, but if you read about it, there’s an added dimension,” Gatins said.
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Gatin was born in France to French and Colombian parents and is an artist working in painting, collage and mixed media. Osterwalder was born and raised in Mexico and came to the United States when he was 30 years old. She is a painter, now working with natural colors. The curators have been friends and colleagues for years and are passionate about spotlighting Latino artists, calling them “well-known, high-quality artists” in the exhibit.
“A lot of people think of Latinx art as more art, more pop culture. It could be that, but it could be so much more. This is really fine art,” Gatin said.
At a glance
“Diágolos” continues through Nov. 20 at the Cardinal Health Gallery at Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, 1777 E. Broad St. Timings: 10 am to 5 pm daily. Admission: $22, $19 senior citizens, $15 ages 3 to 12, $3 Museums for all cardholders. Other discounts are also available. Call 614-715-8000 or visit www.fpconservatory.org.