Wall mural ARS LONGA VITA BREVIS by Alexis Bousquet, calle Cerra in Santurce arts district
by Jan Galligan
Santa Olaya, PR
June 1, 2023
Santurce es Ley / Santurce Rules, is an annual three day festival of art, music and food organized by c787 Studios, which takes place in Santurce, the art district of San Juan, PR. The eighth edition was held May 26, 27 & 28. We've had the pleasure of attending éach of them over the past 10 years. The previous two years were missed due to the restrictions of Covid.
One of our earliest experiences of art in Santurce was in 2013 at an event presented by an enterprise known as La Productora, an alternative artists' space named for its location, 619 Calle Cerra, where 30 years prior there was a distribution center for salsa and other typical music of Puerto Rico. It had been reinvented as a space for the distribution of contemporary art by artists Juan Alberto Negroni, Rabindranat Diaz-Cardona, Martin Albarran, Omar Obdulio Pena, and Jaime Crespo.
the time, discussing our discovery, Lillian said, "This
reminds me of the art scene of the 1980's on the Lower East
Side in New York City. Santurce has the same high energy and excitement, a
feeling of a home-grown, do it yourself aesthetic. Art on the streets
and in the galleries created by artists making artworks
based on the things happening at the moment with a politically
charged response to issues of the day."
We were there in NYC and saw it as it happened. One thing that distinguished Loisaida, as it is still known to Nuyoricans, is that it is an Hispanic neighborhood. During the 80s there was a large influx of artists who came for cheap rents and readily available work-spaces, and quickly established themselves by opening art galleries and alternative art spaces which were supportive of the people and culture surrounding them. The art was distinctive, made from objects and images discovered on the streets of the Lower East Side, often reflecting icons and folk art of the Boricua community. Although now the rents are high and many have moved to Brooklyn, the area still remains an important cultural center.
The La Procuctora event was where we encountered the work of a group of local artists including: José Lerma, Jesús “Bubu” Negrón, Radames Juni Figueroa, Fernando Pintado, Martin Albarran and Jonathan Torres, as well as dealer Francisco Javier Rovira Rullan, of the Roberto Paradise gallery. All remain active in the Santurce art scene today.Among the artists whose careers we have followed closely is Radames Juni Figueroa. One of his earliest works that we encountered was an air conditioner onto which he had scratched a drawing entitled .40 Living the Dream, simultaneously both a sculpture and a drawing.
Juni regularly makes drawings, large and small paintings, sculptures, and installations. When not working on these projects, he also has a line of clothing and designs he calls Warevel Socio and which he describes as a Beauty Salon. Interested parties are encouraged to check out the Instagram feed here: Warevel Socio
recently Juni's work was featured at the Embajada gallery in San
La Milla de Oro, Hato Rey district,
an exhibition he calls La
consisting of three large paintings by that title, a series of small
sculptures and small drawings based on the coconuts, called coco
frio, sold by vendors on the beach, especially around the beaches of Loiza, plus two large curtains defining the entrance to the
gallery space, made from the linen normally stretched and mounted for
paintings, covered by t-shirts and boxer shorts (some from his
Warevel Socio collection) which are smeared with various oil paints to look
like what's commonly known as action-paintings.
Pictured above: Two of the La 187 paintings, Juni working on a La 187 painting, Juni with friends at Embajada gallery opening
Embajada gallery was profiled in our previous post here ... https://janguarte.posthaven.com/embajada-an-art-outpost-whose-propriators-are-emissaries-for-contemporary-art
Embajada has been giving deserved attention to Juni's art for a number of years. In 2015 we wrote about a two person exhibition they hosted featuring Juni's work in conjunction with Bubu Negron. You can read that article here ... https://janguarte.posthaven.com/in-advance-of-una-publicaci-n-en-espanol
closing, we will refer to these remarks about art, the art scene and
attributed to the late Andy Warhol:
“I always say, one's company, two's a crowd, and three's a party.”