Bask in Art: 4 Latino Art Exhibits You Have to Peep This Summer

National Museum of the Art American Indian

On a hot summer day, there’s nothing better than ducking into a museum to take advantage of some commercial-strength air conditioning. This year, you might be lucky enough to walk right into one of these hot shows by contemporary Latino artists, spanning the media of painting, photography, artifacts, and video art.

Whether you’re north, west, south, or central over the summer, check out one of these four Latino art exhibits before the season ends:

Beatriz González: A Retrospective

Perez Art Museum Miami, Miami – Through September 1st

Beatriz Gonzalez Art BELatina
Beatriz González. Los papagayos, 1987.
Oil on paper. 29 1/2 x 78 inches.
Collection Pérez Art Museum Miami, gift of Jorge M. Pérez

Columbian painter Beatriz González, at the age of 81, is having her first significant U.S. retrospective at the Perez Art Museum Miami. The PAMM show features over 100 of her works created over the course of her 60-year career exploring the themes of politics, society, and class. Her later works focus on the civil war’s effect on marginalized communities in her home country. González described herself as a “transgressor” to Cultured Magazine in an interview last month. “I loved to transgress the ‘art laws’: color, composition, material. But also, my artworks referred to topics that upset many people. That’s why, during my early years, I couldn’t sell any of my pieces.”

Taino: Native Heritage and Identity in the Caribbean

The National Museum of the American Indian, NYC – Through October

Taino Art BeLatina
The Barrientos family was formed by a Spanish ex-soldier and an Indigenous woman from Baracoa, Cuba, more than 400 years after Spanish colonization.
Photo by Mark Raymond Harrington, 1919. National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution. (N01404)

This multimedia exhibit of Taíno history features artworks from the past and the present — artifacts, photography, even modern-day comic books that tell the story of the indigenous Caribbean people who were thought to have been wiped out by colonists. This show, a collaboration between the National Museum of the American Indian and the Smithsonian Latino Center, shows us that the Taíno culture and identity still lives on. Researchers even recently came across evidence of Taíno genetics in living people, suggesting that they had not, in fact, gone extinct in the wake of colonization and genocide.

Anthony Hernandez: L.A. Landscapes

Nelson Atkins Museum, Kansas City – Through August 18th

Anthony Hernandez Art BeLatina
Public Fishing Areas #29, 1981. Inkjet print, 32 3/4 x 28 1/8 inches. Gift of the Hall Family Foundation, 2012.53.12.

Artist Anthony Hernandez has been capturing his hometown through the lens of his camera for almost half a century. The exhibit features his photography of the everyday urban landscape of Los Angeles, a setting in which marginalized people have no choice but to thrive and find meaning. The unassuming title to his show reflects the quiet nature of his focus. “Anthony’s work uniquely addresses important social issues — such as the impact of city planning on disenfranchised communities — without making a strident political statement,” said Nelson Atkins Photography Curator April Watson. Hernandez’s can also be found this summer at the Venice Biennale, a prominent exhibition of art from around the world.

The Bell, the Digger, and the Tropical Pharmacy 

Portland Art Museum, Portland, Oregon – Through June 2020

Jennifer Allora Guillermo Calzadilla Art Portland
Allora & Calzadilla, The Bell, the Digger, and the Tropical Pharmacy, 2014, HD video, 50.8 minutes 99.1 seconds; 20 minutes 39 seconds, © Allora & Calzadilla, Courtesy Lisson Gallery.

The Portland Art Museum is showing a single work of video art by power duo Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla. I actually remember seeing this work when it was displayed at the Venice Biennale in 2015; it’s one of the works of art that so impressed itself on my mind that I think about it occasionally, recalling how awesome it was. At first glance, it’s a video of the demolition of a factory building in Puerto Rico, where the two artists are based. Look beyond the gratification of destruction, though, and you’ll find that there are politically discordant and anti-corporate themes that lurk in the work: the building being demolished is a GlaxoSmithKline drug plant, which was shut down following revelations of medications being made in the wrong doses, water contamination, and the ousting of a whistleblower.