Death by lechon, art by Macy's
On Christmas Eve, according to news reports, a guy choked to death on a piece of lechon. This is possibly the most puertorriqueño way to go. Sadly, I was unable to track down an online version of the newspaper El Vocero's report of the tragic event, which spent the first three paragraphs describing the succulence of the meat, and how the poor victim was savoring delicious porky goodness just minutes before he staggered outside, dropped to the sidewalk and cracked his head open.
We spent a couple hours at the Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico in San Juan. Beautiful building, with a permanent collection of works by the island's artists (José Campeche, Francisco Oller, Angel Botello), plus a selection of visiting shows. We went initially to see the Basquiat exhibit, which included some of his early experiments on paper as well as later lithographs.
But the works that left me spinning were Milton Rosa-Ortiz's installations. Each one involved hundreds of strands of monofilament suspended from an overhead frame, with objects--beads, bullets, wood, glass--strung on the strands to form three-dimensional shapes, and the whole piece uplit from the floor.
So imagine, for instance, a figure depicted in black beads, frozen in the act of rearing back to throw a stone. Or J-Lo's famous barely-there green Grammy dress, recreated with shards of glass from the Bronx and Puerto Rico (a not-great photo of which is here).
This screenprint captures some of the luminescence of Rosa-Ortiz's work.
Of course, there had to be something to bring down the whole event, and it was this: all the galleries had corporate sponsorship. Not necessarily a bad thing, it's true. But there's something disconcerting about absorbing incredible, transcendent works of creativity in a room sponsored by Macy's. Or Johnson & Johnson. Or RJ Reynolds.
On the other hand, all that corporate support makes the museum an affordable place to visit: admission for three of us, including supplementary tickets for the Basquiat exhibit, came to less than $20 ...