City Paper is not for tourists
The Smithsonian American Art Museum’s new exhibition, “Our America: The Latino Presence in American Art,” surveys 72 artists and 92 works from the museum’s collection to present a vision of Latino identity since the mid-1900s. But beyond a common ethnolinguistic history, the diversity among the artists’ works breaks down any notion of a shared vision. There is no stylistic connection between, say, Carmen Herrera’s minimalist painting “Blanco y Verde” (1960), Xavier Viramontes’ “Boycott Grapes” (1973) lithographic poster supporting farm workers’ rights, Muriel Hasbun’s haunting “El altar de mi bisabuelo” (1997) photograph of her great-grandfather’s alter, and Margarita Cabrera’s “Brown Blender” (2011) sculpture made from vinyl, copper wire, and thread. There are folkloric elements in paintings such as Melesio Casas’ “Humanscape 62” (1970), but a work such as Olga Albizu’s “Radiante” (1967, shown) sits comfortably next to other abstract paintings of any origin, which is what melting-pot America is all about. The exhibit is on view daily 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, 8th and F streets NW. Free. (202) 633-7970. americanart.si.edu.