Bella Vida by Letty

Meeting Bernice Steinbaum and Addressing the Lack of Latinas in Museums

My life is truly an adventure.  I never know what weird interesting things I’ll see or the cool people I’ll meet whenever I venture out of my house.  This year the Hispancize Conference added an extra day dedicated to art.  You know I was not going to miss out on anything art related.  Especially when it took place at one of my favorite places, Wynwood.  Noche de Diseño‎ was sponsored by Sherwin Williams featuring Sonia Velasquez host of Extreme Makeover Home Edition, Latin America.  We were not told ahead of time which galleries we would be stopping at but I was incredibly elated to visit the Zadok Gallery where the semi retired legend, Bernice Steinbaum, serves as curator.

Bernice Steinbaum is a legend because from the beginning of her career as gallery owner in the mid 80’s she has focused on showcasing women artists as well as artists of color.  If people like BS didn’t do so, these artists would have no other way of getting discovered.  The night I visited the gallery she mentioned being an original Guerilla Girl who are a group of feminists banding together to fight sexism and racism in the art world.

Rich people have always had a lot of stuff. A few centuries ago, they ran out of room in their palaces and churches, so they started art museums. The Guerrilla Girls love museums and all the art in them, but we worry about them, too. Why do they raise hundreds of millions for new buildings, then complain that they don’t have enough money to buy art? Why do they blow a fortune on a single painting by a white male genius when they could acquire hundreds of great works by women and people of color instead? Why do museum store execs get paid more than curators? ”  Guerilla Girls

Bernice Steinbaum Zadock Gallery

Bernice Steinbaum, me, Farah Mesa at the Zadok Gallery

The Zadok Gallery was the highlight of the evening for me.  Wearing her signature Prada eyeglasses and Chinese inspired one of a kind couture dress Bernice spoke passionately about the artists, their works and why she loved them.  Learning these interesting details made me enjoy the pieces even more.  I was so happy and inspired I spent the next day painting and working on a mixed media piece.  Below you will find a list of artists whose work was on display that particular evening.

A special message to museums and galleries wanting to tap into the growing [email protected] market.  Don’t disrespect me.  I don’t want museums to ‘attract’ me as a consumer.  I want to be included and equally represented.  I want to see my reflection everywhere I turn.  Yes it’s great to have a Latino Museum and Smithsonian Latino but don’t segregate me.  The United State’s Hispanic heritage is many centuries old, including colonies dating back to before the 1500’s, predating the arrival of other immigrants.  We built this country, we are this country.  Inclusive equal representation is how you will succeed.

And here’s what YOU can do to change the scene:

[email protected] should not be intimidated nor discouraged from entering the art industry either as artists or investors because the world’s richest are its greatest investors.

Check out some of the artists on display that night:

  • Gabriel Dawe whose work is centered in the exploration of textiles, aiming to examine the complicated construction of gender and identity in his native Mexico and attempting to subvert the notions of masculinity and machismo prevalent in the present day.
  • SeonGhi Bahk whose sculptural works reorder the natural arrangement of objects, enabling the viewer to imagine the existence and non-existence of an object.
  • Tatiana Parcero whose works explore the relationship between the human being and life; between man and earth; between nature and the body; religions, rituals and traditions of diverse cultures are -clearly or subtly- reflected in the images, using these elements to re-invent and recreate visual metaphors.
  • Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons work is an investigation of history and memory, and their roles in the formation of identity. Born in Matanzas province in Cuba in 1959, Campos-Pons bears a familial history that is intermingled with the sugar industry’s presence in her hometown of La Vega. Her roots can be traced from America, to a Cuban homeland, to the enslaved who were traded by Spanish colonists and finally back to what is today Nigeria.

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“On a school trip to the Victoria and Albert Museum, when I followed a sign marked WOMEN, thinking it was an exhibition on the changing roles of women in society, and actually ended up standing in the ladies’ toilets.”  David Nicholls

“Philanthropists and donors traditionally haven’t been sufficiently interested in women’s rights abroad, giving money instead to higher brow causes such as the ballet or art museums. There could be a powerful international women’s rights movement if only philanthropists would donate as much to real women as to paintings and sculptures of women.”  Nicholas D. Kristof

 

 

 

 

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