A Small Post on Art and Puerto Rico


So my readers shall be advised the previous post that pertained to stateside politics has been moved elsewhere. It continues under a different name and those interested in that blog can make a comment at the bottom and I will direct them to the new site. I felt this necessary due to the fact that I had gotten away from the original agenda of this blog. The original intention was to express things related to art, Puerto Rico and a bit of the bohemian. For this I must apologize. Well, with that out of the way let us begin, again!

Some might ask, “what qualifies me to speak of art and Puerto Rico and Puerto Rico in general?” Well, for one I have been a working artist here on the island since my arrival in 1979. I should
Re-state that by saying I have been a working Bohemian artist. Why would I say that you might ask? Simple. This distinguishes me from those that have followed the formulas that both artist and  galleries have followed like some blue-print.

For many years I had followed the more traditional approach of attempting to put my work in the more known galleries with little if any positive results. In those that did accept my works I noticed that the works never truly hung in any prominent spots. More times than not the works were accepted more for other projects which though they were money makers I always felt that others made out far better than I. I would often try to have works exhibited that I felt stood a chance of moving. This was often to no avail. However when I took the same works to the newer more progressive galleries they were usually the first to sell. Having learned this lesson I realized that I could not go up against the structure of the more established galleries with their primma donnas. It was always in the newer galleries where I fared best. Since I was always scanning the news for the latest openings of new galleries I was able to approach them within a short time and was always able to get my work accepted. While the newer galleries did not have the  genealogy of the more established ones they did sell my work rather quickly and on a regular basis. After that I made a decision not to approach the more established iconic galleries and instead seek out just the newer ones.

For many years this worked out well. The mid, and late 80’s as well as the early 90’s were profitable. I look upon those times with fond memories.  However, as everyone knows, the period from the mid 90’s onward was when the economy began to go downhill and has yet to improve, despite local government reports. The newer galleries did not have the resources to survive in the worsening economy and little by little they began to fold. In one gallery after another I would have to go and remove my works as their doors closed for the last time. I think the most painful of all the closings was that of Le Vintage in the Condado. This had been one of the most active of the newer galleries and many artist felt the loss where it hurt the most, in the wallet.

It was around the end of the 90’s that I entered the Artisans Circle. I had known of their existence for many years though I had never joined in their activities. There were a number of the artisans who knew me or of me. I had established a reputation as a Puerto Rican Christmas Card artist and my works were known throughout the island and in many other Latin communities in the states and in Latin countries. Many might not know my face or name but my works were known by many.

My introduction into the artisans circle was by way of my second wife whom I had married at the end of the 90’s. I began attending the various fairs that were held in malls, stadiums and other places.
Many artisans attend the majority of the fairs which keeps them on the move from fair to fair, from one end of the island to the other and I had always joked about their being like gypsy’s. I had decided from early on that we would attend only those fairs that were within the metro area so as to cut down on a lot of traveling. We were no longer spring chickens and just attending the metro fairs was a task in itself. The hours were long , most times 18 hours a day and a number of fairs were a week long.

Like with the galleries I was to discover that there was an establishment that ruled over the artisans fairs. One is the Compañia de Turismo better known as turismo, the other is the Puerto Rican Institute of Culture better known as Instituto de Cultura by many or simply Instituto. These are the 2 main  groups that lay down the rules and laws of what can and cannot be exhibited at the fairs. They really cut into the artists possibilities by not permitting the sale of offset prints that artists normally sell and make up the bulk of their sales.

The print industry is a major thing in the states and is a respectable industry. Unfortunately it has not gained a foothold here on the island. Because of the ruling of the two big powers mentioned above many artists are unable to make what they would normally make because offset prints are not permitted. This in turn forces the artists to work even harder just to maintain an inventory which must obviously sell at a higher price thereby cutting down on their income.

This makes it even harder during these times in which the economy is dismal to say the least. By maintaining records over the past seven years I have been able to determine that it is no longer worth attending the fairs. Each year has shown significant drops over the previous year. I am talking losses of 50%-60% per year. I tell my wife that with the economy the way it is people are not going to buy art! Many people have to decide between paying a bill and buying food. The local government will not admit that but you have only to get in touch with the locals and they will tell you.

It can be said that everything is in a state of perpetual “HOLD”. This largely due to the current state of world affairs and in particularly the war in Iraq and the possibility of yet another one in Iran. Many islands and countries are currently at the mercy of the corporate giants who are licking their chops like hungry wolves at the prospect of huge profits to be made apart from what is being made in the Iraq war. It is their greed that is going to lead the world towards yet another world war and the obvious economic depression that will follow.

Because many of these corporations are looking to cut costs at whatever cost many have left the island looking for even cheaper labor elsewhere. Many have come to know this as out-sourcing. Here on the island whole towns have been affected and there are more to come. Why pay $5.75 an hour when they can get the same job done for maybe $5.75 a day per person or even less!

That can be said to be the current state of affairs here on the island and yet things continue to go up! What is to come is any body’s guess. I guess then that all of this is what qualifies me to speak of art in Puerto Rico and Puerto Rico itself.


3 Responses to “A Small Post on Art and Puerto Rico”

  1. Alex Says:

    Thank You

  2. myriam Says:

    What a great article!i would like to add some of my experiences in the island…get in touch!..

  3. norman segel Says:

    do not visit puerto rico. it is a homophobic paradise.

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