Exhibition—“Tito Matos: Una vida plena”

Héctor “Tito” Matos was born in 1968 in Villa Palmera, a poor neighborhood of Santurce, Puerto Rico. From an early age he was exposed to plena, a stylistic genre that, along with bomba, is the heart and soul of Afro-Puerto Rican music and expresses the social experience of Puerto Rico’s African-descended population. Matos’s group Los Pleneros de la 21 was nominated for a 2006 Grammy Award for their Smithsonian Folkways album Para Todos Ustedes. See more information on Matos’s work at Folkways/Smithsonian.

The exhibition “Tito Matos: Una vida plena”–dedicated to the late plenero Tito Matos, is on view at the Abrazo Gallery at The Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural Center, located at 107 Suffolk Street, New York, New York. The project, developed by José Luis Gutiérrez and curated by Mariana Reyes, in collaboration with La Goyco’s La Casa de la Plena, includes work by José Luis Gutiérrez Reyes, Ivelisse Jimenes, and Noelia Quintero. The exhibition will be on view until June 11, 2023.

The Clemente is a proud supporter and collaborator of the late Tito Matos’ last important project La Casa de la Plena: a cultural and research space dedicated to the history of Puerto Rico plena and its performance. For this exhibition we partner with longtime collaborator Mariana Reyes, as the curator of Una Vida Plan, who together with La Goyco make homage to his legacy and the arts and cultural significance of la Plena in Puerto Rico and the world. A trans-local partnership with La Casa de la plena kicking off with this exhibition in NYC April 21st and culminating in June with Tito Matos Festival in Puerto Rico.

Opening April 21, 2023, Tito Matos: Una vida plena, is an exhibition comprising a collection of everyday objects that reflects some of the life force of this important musician and multi-faceted artist, who left us in January of 2022. 

From Matos’ shirts to his instruments, and other everyday items and tools, the gallery’s narrative highlights Tito’s prodigious talent, and his many achievements including diplomas, awards, newspaper clippings, and songs. 

The project, developed by José Luis Gutiérrez with the curatorial advice of Mariana Reyes, is part of the collective mourning process after Tito’s untimely passing.

The gallery will also feature a piece by the Puerto Rican artist Ivelisse Jiménez, part of a collaboration with Tito. Three video-podcast episodes of La casa de la plena Tito Matos: Gente Tropical, produced by Jonathan Vázquez and Noelia Quintero, will be recorded at The Clemente. [. . .]

See more information and photos of the opening at https://www.theclementecenter.org/exhibitions-1/una-vida-plena

Read about Tito Matos at https://folkways.si.edu/tito-matos-puerto-rican-plena-drummer/latin-world/music/article/smithsonian and https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/29/arts/music/hector-tito-matos-dead.html

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