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Tim Brouk:
Purdue exhibit shows off new art acquisitions

African and Mexican pieces, Picasso print
to be added to university's permanent collection

Journal and Courier, Names & Faces: People in the news, Sunday, June 3, 2001 (West LaFayette, IN)

Contemporary work: Several of René H. Arceo's linoleum-cut prints,
including Homage to Carlos A. Cortez (below), are on display as part
of the "Recent Acquisitions" exhibit at the Robert L. Ringel Gallery
in the Purdue Memorial Union.

 Rene H. Arceo 
 Homage to Carlos A. Cortez
 
  This summer's "Recent Acquisitions" exhibit at the Robert L. Ringel Gallery inside the Purdue Memorial Union features works from African and Mexican artists. Out of the 49 new pieces to be added to Purdue University's permanent collection, 19 were crafted by artists from Africa and 19 are from those of Mexican descent. The pieces consist mostly of prints and sculptures with some paintings, but the two different cultures offer a variety of attractive art. "I think there's a wide range of things to see. It's a pretty eclectic group" - said Craig Martin, Purdue galleries director. - "I think they're really beautiful pieces"

  Most of the authentic African art consists of sculpted masks, figures and ceremonial tools. The Bete Mask was born in the northeast comer of Ivory Coast and features decorative tacks nailed into it and frayed material on the neck to represent fur or a beard. The tusks carved near the mouth led researchers to believe the mask was used to represent a humanized wart hog or jungle demon. Ikenga Figures were worshipped by men of Ibo descent in Nigeria. The seated man promotes action and power as he holds a knife in his right hand and the head of a vanquished foe in the other. The Shango Staff resembles a double-edged ax and was used in ceremonies to honor Shango, the mythological African thunder god. The ax-form of the staff was crafted to resemble the axes Shango was said to have hurled from heaven. A kneeling woman carved on the handle of the staff represents fertility. One of the contemporary pieces of African art was donated to Purdue after its stay at the Smithsonian. Lidded Bowl, sculpted by Lamidi Olonade Fakeye in 1992, was made with oroo mahogany and features ornate male and female figures lifting the large bowl. Smaller figures, perhaps children, hold musical instruments and line the edge of the lid and pedestal.

  Many of the Mexican works are from the Modernist era - early 20th century to late 1940s. Assistant galleries director Michael Atwell said that not all of the artists are from Mexico. Many were from South and Central America as well as the United States, but all of them display their Mexican heritage through art. However, some contemporary art thrives in the exhibit. Atwell was especially pleased to obtain five prints from Carlos Cortéz, a printmaker born in Milwaukee who now lives in Chicago. "He's an artist we've wanted for a long time" - Atwell said. Cortéz's works are very socio-political and document atrocities performed on Mexican migrant workers, especially miners, in the early 20th century. Most of his prints are poster-size with bold images of poor yet determined workers and words written in English and Spanish that state their cases. Cortéz uses negative space well to give his work a dark feel. That vibe is evident in his woodcut prints Mineros de Nuevo Mexico, Fuero and Joe Hill - a tribute to the labor organizer who was executed at the Utah State Penitentiary in 1915.

  Several linoleum-cut prints from René H. Arceo are also included in the exhibit. Also contemporary and from Chicago, his work has similar themes to Cortez but in a more abstract and colorful way.

  The gem of the European collection the galleries received is the Pablo Picasso lithograph print, Jeune Femme. The bold portrait drawn in his recognizable style also features a small note written to the printer at the bottom of the piece. Other Euro-highlights include the Impressionistic painting from Edouard Cortes, Boulevard St. Denis, and Jean Cocteau's porcelain plates, L'apres Midi d'un Faune - featuring a devilish figure getting a drink of water from a stream - and L'apres Midi d'un Faune: Fleurs des Yeaux.

  Painter and printmaker Mary Cassatt's lithograph The Manicure represents the United States. Cassatt (1844-1926) was bora in Pennsylvania, but her paintings were mostly included in Impressionist shows in Paris. The Manicure is a tender, black-and-white print that features a baby getting his nails cut by his mother.

  Carolina Pedraza's Low Tide is the only locally produced piece in "Recent Acquisitions." Her ceramic sculpture of warped houses standing on top of copper tubing rests upon actual sand as if on the beach and was purchased by Purdue's Visual Arts Committee. Born in Colombia and raised in Guatemala, Pedraza just finished up her fine arts graduate degree at Purdue this month.

  Atwell said this is the first summer exhibition at Purdue that was opened during Maymester. The summer shows are usually held until the summer semester starts in June. "We never had an opening during Maymester, but we had a lot of students coming in as soon as we opened Monday", Atwell said. Atwell and Martin think these new pieces of art will blend in nicely with Purdue's already impressive permanent collection and should appeal to a wide-ranging audience. "We hope the things we have will appeal across generations and across cultures" - Atwell said.

Tim Brouk


 Journal and Courier, June 3, 2001 
 Tim Brouk article 'Purdue exhibit 
 shows off new art acquisitions'


FYI: "Recent Acquisitions" was run through August 5. The Robert L. Ringel Gallery's
summer hours are 1 to 5 P.M. and 7 to 9 P.M. Monday through Friday and 1 to 5 P.M. Sunday.



 
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