Cultural Assets in Austin

One of Mexico’s most significant cultural assets is its legacy within the history of art. From the pre-Hispanic era to the contemporary, Mexican artists have produced influential visual art that successfully extends far beyond the geographic borders of its creation and continues to impact and educate the world. In the printmaking medium, Mexico has truly created a masterful proportion of original visual art embodying the ever-changing spirit of the nation. In its current exhibition, Arturo García Bustos: La imagen del México, the Mexic-Arte Museum of Austin presents the transformation of the medium as well as the legacy and history of Mexican art.

As a result of the political and social upheavals of the Mexican Revolution from 1910 to the early 1920s, the experimentation and process-driven media of printmaking provided an inexpensive avenue of creating visual narrative intersecting elements of political, social, and artistic revolution. Federal -funded art schools and cultural institutions emerged as well as alternative art collectives and art groups departing from the academy and focusing on the political such as the print groups ¡30-30! in the 20s and the Taller de la Grafica Popular (TGP) in the 30s. From these political and artistic collaborations emerged printmakers that continue creating striking narratives facilitating social commentary. The artwork of Arturo García Bustos, one of Mexico’s most renowned artists and master printmakers, represents this paradigm-shift in Mexican art.
Born in 1926 in Mexico City, Bustos quickly developed his artistic talents entering into Mexico’s Escuela Nacional de Artes Plásticas at the early age of 15. Later in 1942, Bustos would enter into his most significant pedagogical relationship at the Escuela de Pintura y Escultura de La Esmeralda with professors Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, Agustín Lazo, and Alfredo Zalce. The most significant of these collaborations proved to be between Bustos and Frida Kahlo. During his years with Kahlo, he became known as one of “Los Fridos,” four young artists famous for their devotion to Kahlo. Bustos continued to be part of the 20th century Mexican avant-garde as a founder of the Artistas Jóvenes Revolucionarios---an artistic collective with the principal objective of painting and promoting protest art---and subsequently as a member of the artist-run TGP. The provocative prints created during the TGP workshop, commenting on the social and political injustices around the world and particularly in Mexico, are the highlights of Bustos’ oeuvre.

In 1983, Bustos generously donated several TGP prints to the bourgeoning Mexic-Arte Museum Permanent Collection. Since its founding in 1984, Mexic-Arte has been designated as the Official Mexican and Mexican American Fine Art Museum of Texas by the 78th Legislature of the State of Texas. This unique museum is dedicated to enriching the community through education programs and exhibitions focusing on traditional and contemporary Mexican, Latino and Latin American art and culture. Its history of staging influential exhibitions of Mexican, Latino and Latin American art has established it as one of the foremost arts institutions in the region. Bustos’ protest artworks and printmaking experimentations in lithography, woodcut, and linoleum from the Mexic-Arte Museum Permanent Collection, as well as original artworks on loan from Mexico’s Museo de la Estampa, will be on display in the one of a kind exhibition on April 13-July 8, 2012.

Concurrently, Mexic-Arte presents the artwork of emerging artist Miguel Aragón in the annex gallery exhibition Fractured Memories, Assembled Trauma. Originally from Mexico, Aragón is currently an MFA graduate student at The University of Texas at Austin specializing in traditional, technological, and experimental printmaking. Aragón’s current work provides an alternative relationship between commentary on the ongoing Mexican drug violence and experimentations in printmaking processes. In his current series, Aragón uses a power drill as a drawing tool to manipulate images from newspaper clippings and photographs chronicling the ongoing drug wars in Mexico. The symbolic process of reduction, trauma, and erasure of the drug war images parallels the remnants of memory of those directly affected by the violence.


Claudia Zapata