Bracero Brothers

Juan R Fuentes's "Bracero Brothers."

Gráfica América, currently showing at the Museum of Latin American Art, is a collection of art works created print shops, publishing houses and artist collectives throughout the United States, Mexico, Central and South America and the Caribbean.

Print-making can be a cost-effective way to create art. Depending on the type of print, expensive materials are not required. Some of the great images of world art began as prints, perhaps using only a block of wood and a carving tool.

A print is an image transferred to a surface from a carved material, such as a metal plate, a wood block, stone, glass or screening. Original prints may be referred to by the printing technique used to produce them, such as etching, woodcut, lithograph, silk-screen, aquatint or many other graphic art media. An artistic print is an original work of art, with the artist’s creativity bonded to the selected medium.

Gabriela Martinez, MoLAA Curator of Education, and Rogelio Gutierrez, Associate Professor of Art at Arizona State University, have created a show displaying the collaborative spirit of printmaking with historical prints and publications and contemporary and experimental works made by Latin American artists. The exhibition features works by 100 artists and master printers from Pepe Coronado, Sandra C. Fernández, Fernando De León, Miguel Ledezma, Poli Marichal, Lorena Padral, Coral Revueltas Valle and Humberto Saenz.

Collective workshops are also represented, including Taller (workshop) de Gráfica Experimental, established in Havana, Cuba, in 1962 by Cuban artist Orlando Suárez; Estampa Feminista from Buenos Aires, Argentina; Taller de Gráfica Popular; Mixografia; Centro de Arte de Puerto Rico; Dignidad Rebeld; INKspira and several others.

Commenting about the show, Dr. Lourdes Ramos, president and CEO of MoLAA, said, “This wonderful exhibit exemplifies our mission of presenting global talent. This show will reveal historical artworks that make substantial cultural statements.”

The selections for Grafica America stretch the boundaries of print-making art. The original art prints on display, created in workshops and by individuals, range from oil- and water color paints to graphic novel-like, multi-hued pictures, poster art, pastels, pages from magazines, complicated sketches, simple line drawings and word-only black-and-white blocks.

Among the featured artists, Pepe Coronado runs a print studio in East Harlem, New York City, and said he believes that “printmaking, by nature, is a collaborative medium. It’s a community-oriented art form.”

Poli Marichal, who has lived and worked in Barcelona, London, Boston and Los Angeles, says, “My prints, paintings, films and mixed media works explore two predominant tendencies that sometimes coalesce and sometimes manifest themselves separately — my interest in expressing social, political and environmental concerns and a more introspective and primal desire to explore my personal visions.”

A particularly striking seriograph, depicting a young woman having a stylized Virgin Mary tattooed on her back, created by Ester Hernandez as part of the Self Help Graphics workshop, was pointed out by Jessye, a MoLAA gallery attendant.

“This has been calling out to me all day," he said. "it’s really been receiving a lot of attention.”

Juan R. Fuentes's print, "Bracero Brothers," reflects the Chicano Poster Movement of the 1970s that he helped to define. A strikingly powerful print, it documents political and social concerns in California and the world. Fuentes produces political art that explores Chicano and indigenous themes. His work is included in the permanent collections of the Smithsonian and the San Francisco Mexican Museum.

Make time to visit Grafica America at MoLAA, along with its sister exhibition, Huella Multiple, for a thorough overview of the world of Latin American printmaking and the international statements that it makes.

Grafica America runs through Sept. 1. MoLAA is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday with extended hours to 9 p.m. on Thursday. MoLAA is at 628 Alamitos Ave. Admission is $10 ($7 for seniors older than 65, $7 for students with ID). Admission is free on Sundays and every fourth Thursday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. For information, call (562) 437-2486 or go to molaa.org.

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