Exhibit brings Hispanic imagery to Martin Museum

Martin Museum of Art will feature a collection by Joe A. Diaz now through Nov. 13. Photo credit: Trey Honeycutt

By Helena Hunt, Staff Writer

Selections from San Antonio art collector Joe Diaz’s collection are on display in the Martin Museum of Art from now until November 13th. The collection features the artwork of Hispanic artists, featuring prints and sculptures by the eclectic Luis Jiménez.

A gallery talk and reception at 5:30 Thursday in the museum will allow Diaz to discuss his collection with a Baylor audience. Food will be provided at the event.

The exhibit is an attempt to diversify the Martin Museum’s portfolio of artists. The emphasis on Hispanic artists and museum events in October is a tribute to Hispanic Heritage Month.

Joe Diaz collects work from emerging and mid-career artists, with a focus on Hispanic and southwestern art. Mark Anderson, chairman of the art department, had a personal relationship with Diaz and said he believed Diaz’s collection would contribute to the academic environment at Baylor.

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Martin Museum of Art will feature a collection by Joe A. Diaz now through Nov. 13. Photo credit: Trey Honeycutt

The exhibit’s featured artist, Luis Jiménez, is best known for his colorful oversized fiberglass sculptures of horses, dancers, and cowboys on horseback. The museum will be dedicating its first gallery to his prints, watercolors, and studies. Many of his works deal with controversial issues like race and sexuality.

“He really was dealing with a lot of social issues through his work. There’s a lot of boundary-pushing images,” said Jennifer Spry, an employee of the Martin Museum of Art.

A series of particularly striking exhibits in the Jiménez gallery show a man embracing the body of his dead lover. The Southwest Pietà shows the mythological figures, Popocatepetl and Ixtacihuatl, after the latter has poisoned herself — despairing that her lover will ever return. The image recurs repeatedly in Jiménez’s lithographs.

“The two volcanoes in New Mexico are actually named after the two lovers,” said Randy D’Agostino, a Martin museum gallery attendant. “When he was off to war, they told her that he died so she killed herself.”

Spry said she hopes that the exhibit will broaden students’ exposure to Hispanic art and expand their definitions of art itself.

“It can really start helping to broaden the horizons for students,” Spry said. “A lot of times we have an idea of what is art or what is good art… And this exhibit pushes those boundaries a little bit.”

Jiménez’s work has also been featured in the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Although he worked largely in Texas and New Mexico, his irreverent southwest-tinged work was part of the first rise of Pop Art.

The Diaz collection also features work by artists like Cesar Martinez and Gaspar Enriquez. Martinez’s portrait work represents the different faces of Texas Hispanic history. Enriquez also specializes in portraiture, which is often oversized to confront the viewer.

The exhibit presents an opportunity for the art department to connect with different groups on campus. The Hispanic Student Association at Baylor is working with the Martin Museum to bring two guest speakers, Reyna Grande and Ruben Navarette, to speak on the immigrant perspective. Both Grande and Navarette are writers who have covered the subject of immigration extensively. The forum will take place at 2 p.m. on Monday, October 19th.

“It’s just a great resource for students to have a free opportunity to see a wide variety of art on Baylor campus,” Spry said.