I was somewhat surprised at the lack of bureaucracy at this event. Usually there is a ton of it with a lot of hair-splitting. It probably had something to do with the economy. I was not surprised that a large number of artist did not attend. This fair is always planned for right after 3 Kings, and before the San Sebastián fair in San Juan. Frankly speaking that is the worst possible time for such a fair. For one people are basically broke after the Christmas marathon of spending and are just beginning to make their first payments on their credit card purchases. For another it is one week before the really big fair in San Juan. This fair should really be scheduled for the Christmas season when people are in the buying mood and have money. The way it is it’s like we are being cast out there to pick over the bones of leftovers! A number of the artist usually send a helper to attend their table while they themselves continue to prepare for the Big Fair the following week. This proved to be the case with many of those who have their own galleries or large workshops.
The general mood was one of apprehension and nervous expectancy. A number of artisans have been forced to take on jobs to make ends meet and a few have even changes to other fields in the hopes of attracting the much needed client.
I did get to see a number of people I had not seen in a while. Many of the silk screen artist were there such as Jaime Cruz, Sixto Cotto and Roberto Matos, Oslvado de Jesus Cruz to name a few. There were beautiful examples of woodcut prints and one in particular by Omar Velazquez which dealt with the Police shooting of a civilian that took place this past year in Humacao. That was an incident that was captured on video and spread over the internet like wildfire. The Museo de la Universidad had purchased one of these prints for their collection. The print is a very bold and powerful statement of Police Brutality on the island. It is well worth keeping an eye on this young artist as he will most definitely be one of the great ones of the future. I am still hoping to obtain one of these prints.
Another woodcut artist of some renown was Ada Rosa Rivera Negron who also had some very powerful, moving pieces.
A young artist worth mentioning is Javier Alzérreca Frambes who works in oils and watercolors and has been involved in doing a series of paintings of ballet dancers. The works in themselves are splendid examples of oil paintings and he went one further by having the frames decorated with used ballet shoes from his wife, Francheska Castro Sitiriche who is a dancer and who I understand made the frames. I consider these to be pieces of museum quality which I hope will find their way there in the near future.
Also present was Lizette Lugo with her delightful silk screens and paintings.
As is my habit I never view these events as just events, rather I view them as an active participant in an historic event. These are the sort of things we read about in history books about artist from the past and wonder what it was like to have been there. Being the bohemian artist that I am I simply relish these moments.
I always attend these fairs with my wife Ely who is well known in the artisans circles for her delightful little paintings of Reinitas and bookmarks and has been attending these fairs for many years. We ended up with a very lively group in our section especially with the attendance of Toño, Roberto Matos’ helper. We had many laughs that will surely be future fond memories.
Oslvado de Jesus Cruz jubileefineart.com
Roberto Matos puertoricanartsandcraft.com
Sixto Cotto fosilarte.com
Tags: Ada Rosa Rivera Negron, Elida Rodríguez, Francheska Castro Sitiriche, Jaime Cruz, Javier Alzérreca Frambes, Mariana Bracetti, Omar Velazquez, Osvaldo de Jesus Cruz, Poster Products, Roberto Hernandez, Roberto Matos, San Sebastián fair Plaza Las Americas, Sixto Cotto, Toño