New exhibit at Tulane features work of 5 Puerto Rican artists


 A report by Ana Gershanik for

A new exhibit at Tulane University’s Newcomb Art Museum offers an view into five Puerto Rican artists’ work. The artists range from 43 to 91 years old. The artists offer a contemporary artistic take on colors and shapes.

Zilia Sanchezborn, born in 1926, is one of the artists who has pieces featured. Her work was included in the 2017 Venice Biennale. She uses curvilinear forms to depict corporal topographies, creating a distinctive look. Her pieces are in the collections of the Walker Art Center, Minnesota; the Phillips Collection and the Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Another featured artist is Julio Suarez, born in 1947, who creates geometric-shaped paintings characterized by invisible brushwork and minimal use of color. This is the first time that his work is exhibited in the United States.

Arnaldo Roche Rabell, born in 1955, also adds to the exhibit’s artwork. His work is created with the rubbing technique of frottage. He places persons, objects and other things under the canvas and builds his images through multiple layers of paint. He holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and has shown his work at renown Museums in the United States.

Pedro Velez, another artist with work in the exhibit, received his education in the United States. Born in 1971, he has a degree from the School of the Art Institute of  Chicago. His work is defined by shredding canvases to create flags and banners related to social issues. He has shown his work in numerous galleries and museums including the 2014 Whitney Biennial in New York.

The youngest artist is Elsa Maria Melendez, born in 1974, who specializes in installation art. She has a degree from the Universidad de Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras, and her large installations include embroidery, sewing, and lots of objects, fabrics and materials. She was present at the inauguration of the exhibit on April 26.

In addition to the works of the artists, there is a smaller exhibit, envisioned, curated and designed by Tulane students from “Women, Community, and Art in Latin America: Puerto Rico.” The class was co-taught by Edith Wolfe, Assistant Director of the Stone Center for Latin American Studies, and Newcomb Museum Director Monica Ramirez-Montagut, who has served in that post since 2015.

The students traveled to Puerto Rico in March 2017 and their work shows how community-based projects in San Juan and adjacent areas are changing the narrative of place and redefining the nature of citizenship. It also emphasizes the role of women artists and activists in reshaping their communities. Admission to the museum is free and open to the public  and the show can be seen through July 9.

Guitar festival

Cervantes Fundacion Hispanoamericana de Arte (Cervantes Hispanic-American Arts Foundation) will present its third annual New Orleans International Guitar Festival 2017 from Monday, May 15 through Saturday, May 20. Fourteen artists from 10 different countries will perform and promote diversity and unity through music.

The artists are Don Vappie, Marina Alexandra, Steve Masakowski, John Lawrence, Eduardo Martin, Rafael Padron, John Dobry, Javier Olondo, Jay Kacherski, Jose “Pepe” Coloma, Geovane Santos, Manuel Arteaga, Julio & Cesar and Israel Cedeno. A Young Artists competition will also take place during the week with prizes for the top competitors.

The objective of the festival is to showcase the guitar, which is used in a wide variety of musical genres worldwide. The festival will highlight the guitar in a variety of the music genres along with other members of the guitar family such as the lute, theorbo, banjo, Venezuelan cuatro and Cuban tres.

The week’s free events will all take place at Tulane University and end with a May 20 spirited celebration, “Guitar Fiesta,” on the grounds of the Old U.S. Mint in partnership with the New Orleans Jazz Museum. The only paid event will be the “After Party” which is in partnership with Hispanic Flavor Productions and the Wyndham Garden New Orleans Airport, on the evening of May 20.

Guitar panel discussion

On Tuesday, May 16, at 6 p.m., at Tulane University Howard-Tilton Memorial Library  6th floor, guitar educators will lead a panel discussion on some of the challenges of teaching guitar, as well as some of the resources available to other guitar educators and students. Guest panelists include Maestro Elias Barreiro, Steve Masakowski (UNO), Dr. Kerry Alt (Loyola) and Lisa Hooper (Tulane) with Javier Olondo as moderator. At 7.30 p.m. there will be a recital at Tulane University-Dixon Recital Hall featuring Rafael Padron and Jay Kacherski on classical guitars.

The first round of the young artist competition will take place on Wednesday, May 17, starting at 10 a.m., at Tulane University-Dixon Recital Hall. At the same site, at 7:30 p.m., artist Marina Alexandra will perform on classical guitar. On Thursday, May 18, the second round of the competition will occur at the same site and hours followed by a concert at 7.30 p.m. by classical guitarist Eduardo Martin.

On Friday, May 19, at 8 p.m., there will be a guitar Jamboree at Tulane University Dixon Hall, featuring different groups and the Festival will culminate on Saturday, May 20, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m, at the Old U.S. Mint, located at 400 Esplanade Ave. For more information, contact Brenda Melara, at 504.615.9070 or

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