It’s taken a while for the Bronx to shed its reputation as the gritty, incorrigible borough lagging behind the “new” New York – not that such a reputation was necessarily a bad thing – but as all eyes fix on the Boogie Down as the last frontier of New York gentrification, BX residents are taking the opportunity to step up and show the world what they’re really made of.
One of the more conspicuous efforts making headlines this fall comes from the hearts and minds of two Latino artists and cultural promotors who’ve realized their dream of bringing world class visual art to the birthplace of hip hop. Showing throughout the fall, the fifth Bronx Latin American Art Biennial, titled “I am one of those people that…”, brings together a collection of over 100 local and international artists around an array of social issues, including migration, women’s rights, and discrimination.
Co-founder Alexis Mendoza made his global/hyper-local focus clear in a 2012 interview with the Daily News, talking about the importance of presenting Latin American culture as more than “music and food,” while showing Bronx residents that, “art is not just in Manhattan, it is in their neighborhood.”
Some of the stand-out artists representing at this year’s edition include Washington Heights-by-way-of-Nicaragua art phenom Franck de las Mercedes, who was named one of “15 Artists About to Dominate 2015” by Complex magazine. New York-based Cuban illustrator and installation artist Jairo Alfonso will also be exhibiting his world-renowned critiques of consumption and waste alongside artists with origins in Colombia, Mexico, Peru, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and beyond.
The traveling exhibition kicked off this September at the Bronx Art Space and will be moving through other galleries and cultural centers across the city, including Hostos Community College and the Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural Center in the Lower East Side. Check out the Biennial’s Facebook page for more information.