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Latino Art Exhibit in the White House

Summary: 
This year in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month at the White House visitors to the East Wing will enjoy select artworks from the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Collection of Latino Art from September 15, 2012 to October 15, 2012

This year in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month at the White House visitors to the East Wing will enjoy select artworks from the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Collection of Latino Art from September 15, 2012 to October 15, 2012.

President Obama stated in his National Hispanic Heritage Month Proclamation that Hispanics “have enriched every aspect of our national identity with traditions that stretch across centuries and reflect the many ancestries that comprise the Hispanic community.” Through the use of different mediums, these featured pieces have enriched the art community by portraying the spirit of Latino neighborhoods and residents. These pieces, “Los Privados,” “El Fireboy y El Mingo,” Joseph Rodriguez’s untitled photograph, “La Rumba Supermarket,” and “Innocent Age” are unique and are prominently featured at the White House and exhibit the Latino culture in America.

Los Privados, Pedro Cervantez, 1937

Los Privados, Pedro Cervantez, 1937. Oil on fiberboard. Photo Courtesy of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. (by Photo Courtesy of the Smithsonian American Art Museum)

Pedro Cervantez’s painting, Los Privados, depicts a humble structure seen within the rural landscape.  Through this visual, Cervantez portrays how immigrant groups transform the look of their adopted home.

El Fireboy y El Mingo, Gilbert “Magu” Lujan, 1988

El Fireboy y El Mingo, Gilbert “Magu” Lujan, 1988. Color lithograph on paper. Photo Courtesy of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. (by Photo Courtesy of the Smithsonian American Art Museum)

Gilbert “Magu” Lujan was an activist, artist, and one of the pioneers in Chicano art in Los Angeles.  Lujan’s piece, El Fireboy y El Mingo, invites the viewer to see a glimpse of Lujan’s imagination.  This piece depicts Lujan as a cartoon character with fiery hair, and as a dog with humanistic features.  His humor was considered to be his secret ingredient in his works.

Untitled, Joseph Rodríguez, 1987

Untitled, Joseph Rodríguez, 1987. Chromogenic photograph. Photo Courtesy of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. (by Photo Courtesy of the Smithsonian American Art Museum)

Through the use of realism Rodríguez’s photograph extends an arm, and welcomes the viewer into Rodriguez’s perspective of New York overlooking his neighborhood.

Untitled, Bronx Storefront,

Untitled, Bronx Storefront, "La Rumba Supermarket,” Emilio Sanchez, Late 1980s. Watercolor on paper. Photo Courtesy of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. (by Photo Courtesy of the Smithsonian American Art Museum)

Sanchez identified with his adopted city of New York that he would often refer to himself as a “New Yorker from Camagüey.” In the 1980s, the artist turned to the urban landscape of Latino neighborhoods where commercial establishments like bodegas, or corner stores, were named after places, people and things from the Caribbean.

Innocent Age, Kathy Vargas, 2006

Innocent Age, Kathy Vargas, 2006. Screenprint on paper. Photo Courtesy of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

In the screenprint, Innocent Age, Kathy Vargas manipulates existing photographs to call attention to the rich memories they bear. It is a tribute to the late Texas state senator, Gregory Luna, who championed the education of all children. Luna once said: "Take care of the children of this state. They are the future of Texas."

Julie Rodriguez is the Associate Director of the Office of Public Engagement