Mexican century


<i>Miradas</i> at the Nevada Museum of Art showcases Mexican and Mexican-American artwork.

Miradas at the Nevada Museum of Art showcases Mexican and Mexican-American artwork.


Miradas: Ancient Roots in Modern and Contemporary Mexican Art is on exhibit at the Nevada Museum of Art, 160 W. Liberty St., through July 16. The museum hosts a Barrio Block Party July 8, with free museum admission food trucks, face painting, art projects and live music.

The Miradas exhibition, currently on display at the Nevada Museum of Art, showcases a collection of work by Mexican and Mexican-American artists spanning from the early 1900s to the present. Along with the large number of artists represented is a diversity of styles ranging from abstract and gestural to more figurative and traditional. The collection includes photography, paintings and prints that show the cultural influence of post-revolutionary Mexico.

In the past, the museum has showcased a few large exhibitions of work by Mexican and Latin American artists, including Frida Kahlo and contemporary Mexico City sculptor/printmaker Betsabeé Romero, curated mainly from its own permanent collection. This exhibit is a traveling one. It’s borrowed from a program called Art in Our Communities, which is backed by a major bank and lends exhibits and performing arts programs to museums.

In the NMA’s main exhibition space on the third floor, visitors see early pieces by some of the best-known Mexican artists—including lithographs by Diego Rivera and José Clemente Orozco, known for his mural painting, and a series of prints by Francisco Zuñiga, a Costa Rican-born Mexican artist. The longest wall in the gallery is lined with photographs arranged in a somewhat chronological order of influence. It starts with Manuel Álvarez Bravo, perhaps the most important Latin American photographer in the 20th century, who influenced almost the entire next generation of photographers. His style was influenced by Mexican muralism, and he worked during Mexico’s post-revolution push to redefine Mexico’s cultural identity. In his photographs, the influences of surrealism and Mexican mythology are visible. Also included in the lineup are Graciela Iturbide, a contemporary Mexican photographer who studied with Álvarez Bravo; Flor Garduño, known for her surreal and dream-like imagery; and Mariana Yampolsky, who was born in the U.S. and moved to Mexico City to study painting and sculpture.

Further into the exhibition is a wall of prints by Rufino Tamayo depicting stylized figures and fruits in simplified, almost child-like compositions. Much of the contemporary work, like the paintings of Roberto Gil de Montes and prints of Enrique Chagoya and Luis Jimenez Jr., use symbolism and combine pre-Colombian mythology and contemporary iconography. The influence of magical realism is evident in some of the work as well, most notably the painting Mom’s Living Room by Patssi Valdez, an American born Chicana artist.

Brightly colored walls and slightly distorted architectural lines and wavy floors frame a lit table while three black, closed umbrellas seem to dance in the foreground, balancing on their points. Color is certainly a strong element in much of the work and plays a key role in the abstract, mixed media paintings by Gustavo Rivera.

All of the text is in English, however, the museum offers an option to listen to the text in Spanish by calling a phone number on your cell phone and putting in a code corresponding to the artwork.

Overall, the exhibition offers an overview of and insight into Mexican art since the revolution. It is not a complete history, but it has some key artists and pieces that reveal a trajectory of artworks as a series of cultural responses to identity on both sides of the border.