Two Works of Art from Bronx Museum

Urban Archives: Emilio Sanchez in the Bronx

Emilio Sanchez works at the Bronx Museum of the Arts illustrates the buildings in South Bronx’s having bright primary shades of red, blue, and yellow. Although the buildings are industrial and commercial, their depiction is exotic and appears to be hospitable. The sunny shades of the watercolor and oil nearly make one overlook that they are viewing liquor stores, bodegas, and auto shops located all over the South Bronx. In the display, Urban Archives: Emilio Sanchez in the Bronx, Emilio shows the South Bronx environs of Hunts Point and Mott Haven.

In 1988, Emilio visited these environs again and again. He photographed Hunts Point’s and Mott Haven bakeries, pharmacies, and meat markets from the exterior as a study for his works of art. He was fond of the geometric structural design of every business. His main focus was architecture, and therefore, one cannot see people in Emilio’s paintings. In its place, the works of art are still depictions with horizontal contrasting surfaces in addition to varying shades, referred to in the art field as Late American Modernism.

However, with all of the varying shades and immaculate precision dimensions, it is natural to overlook the tangible state of contemporary America in the Bronx nowadays. In both the environs, over 50 % of the populace lives beneath the poverty line, whereas Hunts Point is infamous for its high rate prostitution and being a component of the highly underprivileged congressional district in the U.S. Twenty years later, the buildings that motivated Emilio’s paintings are standing there nowadays. Although much has changed, the commercial structures are identifiable through a number of the signs have by now changed.  On the Hunts Point Avenue, a brilliant yellow Auto Glass store still exists, although it is rundown on a busy road. The domineering brick structure with the undersized corner liquor shop on its ground floor still exists today, as well as the body works to store and bodega. At present these structures do not have the neon blue and pink cubes in their windows as seen in Emilio’s work, in its place there exists iron grates. The walls are collapsing brick, not smooth tan with tidy red trim.

Juan Downey, The Invisible Architect.

The initial US museum study of Juan Downey works is The Invisible Architect. Invisible architecture is a conception fundamental to Juan’s works that denote his writings from the 1970s. In 1973 Juan wrote, “The invisible architect and this thought entered his mind through memories of his mother’s childhood in Chiloé, an island in Chile, in addition to his architectural studies, and his introduction to the psychological, magnetic, as well as optical works of expatriate he came across in Paris in the 1960s. This display covers a number of decades of Juan’s work, together with his early trials in technology and art, when he started to progress from an object-oriented artistic practice to an experimental approach that coalesced video and sculpture, with interactive performance. It also features Juan’s video systems from the 1970s as well as ‘80s, whereby he merged anthropological and autobiographical approaches to the genre of documentary, one of his leading contributions to this field. Juan’s later works are studies of both the historical and intellectual myths of European society and the ancestry of Latin-American identity, accomplished in intricate video works that employ associative visual imagery, collage methods, in addition to nonlinear narratives.



Works Cited

Smith, Valerie,. Juan Downey: The Invisible Architect. Leipzig: MIT List Visual Art Center &      The Bronx Museum, 2011.

(Smith 14).

Hanhardt, J. Juan Downey of Dream into Study. Santiago: Lord Cochrane, 2000. Print.



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