Continuing through August 24, 2019
“United Citizen Ship,” a stunning oil and gold leaf painting by Patrick McGrath Muñiz from 2016, is inspired by “The Ship of Patience,” a 17th Century engraving by Gerhard Altzenbach. Altzenbach’s version depicts a Crucified Christ as the ship’s mast, with various saints as the ship’s crew. Muñiz expresses the same outstanding technical and compositional skill as Altzenback, but a close inspection of the painting reveals that rather than various saints and Roman Catholic figures manning the ship, the “United Citizen Ship” is manned by Ronald McDonald, Uncle Sam, Ulysses S. Grant, along with other figures and mascots of corporations and the transoceanic free market enterprise. Puerto Rican-born Muñiz uses traditional painting techniques to express satire and criticism of modern day colonization and Imperialism.
Muñiz is one of three artists in “Sin Fronteras” (without borders), all Latin American men who are largely influenced by Catholic iconography, and all exploring contemporary social, economic, and political issues through satire and popular culture. Nicholas Herrera, a folk artist from New Mexico, uses wood and recycled metal to create traditional Retablos (small, alter-like sculptures that enclose decorated panels) and Bultos (statues of Christ, the Virgin Mary, and other Catholic figures). His crucifix, “Espiritu,” depicts a blue Christ figure mounted on old scrap metal car parts, and is displayed above “El Diablo,” the devil riding a motorcycle constructed from metal scrap. Like all of Herrera’s work, these pieces are brightly colored and playful. Thomas Vigil, another New Mexico native, uses his background in the underground street art scene to combine his interests in contemporary graffiti art with that of the Spanish Colonial period. The results are stunning, pop art versions of religious iconography. And like Muñiz and Herrera, the combination of anachronistic subjects and aesthetics with contemporary sensibilities translate into fascinating, thought provoking and often humorous results.