Proclamations are historically issued in recognition of the importance of significant achievement within a community. So we were not surprised to learn that, before leaving office, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer would bestow a Proclamation of Achievement on artist Jorge Luis Rodriguez.
Rodriguez has been creating and exhibiting in a plethora of medium for more than four decades. With a primary focus on sculptures, he is probably best know for being the first Percent-for-Art Artist in 1985 with his installations ‘Growth’ located in Harlem Art Park in East Harlem.
Arriving in New York from Puerto Rico in 1963, Rodriguez hit the ground running as a two-dimensional artist and graphic designer at the NYC-based advertising agency J. Walter Thompson. In 1972, he decided to pursue formal training and enrolled in the School of Visual Arts.
His first professional show was in 1976 at Just Above Midtown Gallery (JAM) just before his graduation from the School of Visual Arts. Coincidentally, Whitechapel Gallery in London will open its doors to the exhibition, Galleries in the Groove: Three Visionary Dealers, 1960s-80s this month ~ which will include Linda Goode Bryant, gallerist at Just Above Midtown Gallery during that period of time ~ and also include work by Jorge Luis Rodriguez. He went on to receive his M.A. in Sculpture from NYU. In addition, his teaching experience includes the New York Public Schools as well as Kingsborough Community College and the School of Visual Arts. In 1977 Rodriguez exhibited his senior thesis (Recent Works) at 80 Washington Square East Galleries, which was followed by a 1978 exhibition ~ returning to Just Above Midtown Gallery (JAM).
As a side note, MoMA will expand on the historic ‘Just Above Midtown’ with an exhibition in October, 2022.
As an artist-in-residence at Studio Museum in Harlem (1980-81), Rodriguez moved forward with artwork in schools, parks, public spaces, galleries and museums ~ not only within the five boroughs of New York, but also Internationally.
Below, Rodriguez working on his sculpture, Growth, at the Flame Cut Steel Factory before its installation as the first Percent for Art installation in 1985 in Harlem Art Park.
He has been recognized by the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council for the Arts, the New York Foundation for the Arts, among others. He is also recognized for his mentorship and friendship to emerging artists.
Below, Jorge Luis Rodriguez: Sculptures, Drawings and Prints (curated by Marcos Dimas) at a solo exhibition at Taller Boricua Gallery, 2016.
Below, the exhibition ‘A Monument to the 500 Years of the Cultural Reversal of America‘ at The Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter East Harlem in 2015. The room was filled with artifacts from the 1993 large-scale installation, including the musical boxes which are the artists’ homage to the African Cultural heirloom, and steel drums, each named for the African regions.
The exhibition “A Monument to the 500 Years of the Cultural Reversal of America‘ by Rodriguez, was born from his original sculpture ~ a twenty-foot long medieval slave ship, commissioned for the Mayfair Festival of the Arts, pictured below.
Below, a closeup of the artists’ ‘Oracle of the Past, Present and Future’ in Tompkins Square Park in 2015.
Below image, the artist in front of his piece, The Missing, at El Barrio’s Artspace PS109.
We visited a brief showing of the globe for ‘Atlas of the Third Millennium’ in Brooklyn (below) prior to its installation in East Harlem.
Rodriguez installed Atlas of the Third Millennium in Marcus Garvey Park in 2017, curated by Connie Lee, who, prior to Living With Art Salon, was President of the Marcus Garvey Park Alliance and Public Art Initiative.
Did you know that he heads south to do a workshop with the National Boy Scout’s in the summer? The following two pictures were taken in the summer of 2013 at the Summit Bechtel Reserve with USDA Forest Service.
Above and below, Rodriguez worked on a stone carving activity with the Troop. A typical day would begin at 7:30am with a briefing session with the US Forest Service, transport to the site, set up, and the hands-on work sessions from 9am to 5pm at the Summit Bechtel Reserve in West Virginia.
The Proclamation was schedule to be given at a ceremony on Wednesday, December 22nd at The Center for Puerto Rican Studies Library located within Hunter College, in East Harlem. However, due to the serge in COVID, The Center is closed to public gatherings, and the ceremony took place on Zoom ~ Wednesday, December 22, 2021 at 2:00pm. All are invited.
In attendance and speaking during the Zoom event, Jennifer J. Raab, Hunter College President; Yarimar Bonilla, Centro Director; Gale Brewer, Manhattan Borough President; and Evelyn, Jorge Luis and Pandy Rodriguez.
We can’t close without including the above picture of Rodriguez standing in front of a picture of over 100 Uptown Artists, of which he is an integral part, not only with his decades-long portfolio, but through his mentorship and friendship with so many in this group.
A Proclamation, well deserved. Congratulations Jorge Luis Rodriguez.