‘Rutas de Nuestros Caminos. Routes of Our Paths’ to Open at Ki Smith Gallery




Jorge Luis Rodríguez, Circulo Concurro Esquinas (Circle with Four Corners) 1978/2022 in the exhibition ‘Just Above Midtown’ at MoMA in 2022. Image courtesy of the artist and Ki Smith Gallery

Ki Smith Gallery will open its doors to Rutas de Nuestros Caminos. Routes of Our Paths, a group exhibition highlighting some of the most exciting Puerto Rican contemporary artists in NYC! The gallery will be exhibiting a wide range of talent that includes legends like Jorge Luis Rodríguez and Marcos Dimas as well as undiscovered talents like Elsie Deliz and new stars in the community such as James Reyes. CAfED and Grandma Collective take us on a journey that shows Puerto Rican artists’ prolific and continuing impact in New York City. The gallery will be showcasing a collection of works including pieces made in the 70’s that were originally shown at the famed Just Above Midtown Gallery and have been exhibited at MoMA, as well as pieces finished this year in a studio in the Bronx. Rutas de Nuestros Caminos (Routes of Our Paths) gives a view into both the past and the future while celebrating the present.

Jorge Luis Rodríguez, Eulogy for Ana Mendieta/Elogio para Ana Mendieta (1986), Welded steel, black feathers. Image courtesy of the artist.

Originally from Puerto Rico, Jorge Luis Rodríguez arrived in New York City in 1963 at the intersection of the Minimalist and Optical Art movements, incorporating these elements into his works. Rodríguez began his career as a two-dimensional artist, but over the years began experimenting with sculpture. He enrolled in the School of Visual Arts where he met his mentors George Trakas, Brice Marden, and Louise Bourgeois. From there, Rodríguez began working in Harlem and SoHo where he created work for public installation. Rodríguez’s work emphasizes issues related to the representation of Black and Latin American culture and he frequently travels around the world conducting research to aid him in his artistic practices. Today, Jorge Luis Rodríguez has retired from his position as a college professor and continues to focus on his own work, which ranges from large scale installations like Atlas of the Third Millennium, 2017, to wall hanging sculptures and solo exhibitions like ‘A Monument to the 500 Years of the Cultural Reversal of America’ at The Center for Puerto Rican Studies in East Harlem, 2016. Rodríguez currently lives and works in New York City and has had works shown at institutions such as the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Museum of Contemporary Hispanic Art, and the MoMA. He also exhibited at Museo de la Antigua Marina Española in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico. 

One of the artworks in this exhibition will be his sculpture entitled Eulogy for Ana Mendieta/Elogio para Ana Mendieta (1986), (image above).  This sculpture is modeled after the loutrophoros, a type of amphora used in ancient Greece for funeral rites. It is dedicated to the memory of the Cuban artist, whom Jorge Luis had met in 1982. Both were among the fifteen artists invited to design site-specific installations for “Art Across the Park.” Three years later, her promising career was tragically cut short when she fell from a 34th floor penthouse apartment in Greenwich Village. Her husband, the minimalist sculptor Carl Andre, was alleged to have pushed his wife to her death during an argument. Much like the scenes and characters depicted on Greek amphorae, the two roosters and two hens are a decorative allusion to this version of events. Moreover, a kinetic effect is activated by the viewer as they walk around the sculpture, simulating a fight and more broadly, the couple’s tumultuous relationship. This optical illusion was inspired by the work of 19th century English photographer Eadweard Muybridge, famous for his photographic studies in motion. Andre was subsequently arrested on second degree murder charges, though his case would be acquitted. A reproduction of one of his minimalist installations is included as the flooring of the sculpture. In addition, the laurel wreath placed atop the six-foot sculpture is an homage to the work of Mendieta. It is an ancient Greek symbol of triumph, later adopted by the Romans, which Jorge Luis uses to “crown” her achievements. Decades later, it can also be considered a reference to her enduring legacy and influence. Eulogy was exhibited in 1986 at a gallery in SoHo, NYC.

Recently presented with a Proclamation from the City of New York, he is probably best known for his sculpture entitled ‘Growth’ in Harlem Art Park ~ which was the very first Percent for Art sculpture in NYC, installed in 1985.

Marcos Dimas. Image courtesy of the artist and Ki Smith Gallery

Marcos Dimas’s work combines abstract and figurative forms to create a fusion between ways of of seeing past and present. Dimas, born on a sugar plantation in Puerto Rico, has drawn inspiration from his experiences of immigration and service in Korea as well as from his time attending the School of Visual Arts and WNET Film Television Schools. In 1970, he co-founded the Taller Boricua, an artist collective that served to create artist’ spaces and a center to support ideas and education related to art. Much of Dimas’ work is related to accessibility in the arts, as he worked with the Art Workers Coalition during his time at SVA in order to decentralize art displayed by museums and redistribute works throughout local communities.

During the 1970s, Dimas began to stray further away from the European-influenced aesthetic and began to explore the arts of other parts of the world, drawing inspiration from the petroglyphic images from the cave and stone styles of the Taino Indian and incorporating them into automatic drawing exercises, which highlighted the power of Caribbean culture. He continues to create works combining these ideas of Pre-Columbian Taino symbols with contemporary modes of abstraction and has displayed his works at institutions such as the Museo Del Barrio, The Museum of Contemporary Hispanic Arts, and the Museum of the Americas in San Juan.

Elsie Deliz. Image courtesy of the artist and Ki Smith Gallery

Elsie Deliz is Puerto Rican born, multi-talented mixed media artist and jewelry designer. She gets her artistic influences from nature and the environment. Deliz graduated from the High School of Art and Design and studied at the Fashion Institute of Technology. She frequently incorporates found objects such as recycled cardboard, fabric, bottle caps, beads, feathers, and more into her work, seeing treasure in what others may find useless materials. Deliz is a Member of Taller Boricua Printmaking Workshop and Prida and an Artist in Residence at The Red Oak in New York. She has also exhibited in Museo de la Historia de Ponce in Puerto Rico. “I am easily inspired by flowers, fruits, birds, and amazing landscapes when I am in Puerto Rico. Nature is the force that motivates me to create my mixed media art and jewelry design.” – Elsie Deliz

Deliz, an Artist Member of Art Lives Here, Inc., created beautiful and intricate work for her exhibition entitled Tres Reyes Magos, aptly named to coincide with the annual Three Kings Parade this past year.

She recently was in the exhibition ‘Las Mujeres de Prida‘ at El Barrio’s ArtsSpace during Women’s History Month.

James Reyes. Image courtesy of the artist and Ki Smith Gallery

James Reyes is Puerto Rican American artist who lives and works in the Bronx, New York. Reyes’ works are directly inspired by his cultural and social environment as well as the dream world. Using intensely gestural and occasionally chaotic brushstrokes, splashes, drips, sprays, and scrapes, Reyes conjures figures both fully rendered and surreal, creating portals into his subconscious and to the dream world. Reyes’s process is reactive and intuitive using broad action packed gestures as a cryptic map to pull out the characters and symbols, allowing the abstraction of the underpainting to act a guide into his world. Reyes received his BFA from the School of Visual Arts in New York. He has had two solo exhibitions at Ki Smith Gallery and was an exhibiting artist at SCOPE Art Show in 2023.

Rutas de Nuestros Caminos. Routes of Our Paths with artists Jorge Luis Rodríguez, Marcos Dimas, Elsie Deliz and James Reyes, in collaboration with CAfED, curated by Grandma Collective, will be opening on April 6, 2024 at Ki Smith Gallery, 170 Forsyth Street, NYC. An Opening Reception will be held on April 6th from 6-9pm, with RSVP required.

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