A rare collection of art from the Americas

By Donna Lenz-Wright/The Week

(Published Sept. 20, 2006, 11:38 a.m.)

Coleccion Salgado, featured at the Crossman Gallery on the UW-Whitewater campus through Oct. 14, is compilation of artwork from Chicago businessman Erasmo Salgado and his family. Salgado's collection is widely recognized as an outstanding and very comprehensive accumulation of work from artists throughout the Americas.

"I had a chance to meet Salgado a couple of years ago," said Michael Flanagan, director of the Crossman Gallery. "He invited me to his home along with a couple of other artists.

"He's put his heart and soul into his collection, which includes paintings, sculptures, prints and indigenous pieces," Flanagan continued. "He has works in every room, behind every door and on every wall. It's an amazing collection.

The exhibit puts UW - Whitewater on the international art circuit, something quite remarkable, according to Flanagan. It features some of Salgado's most illustrative, emotional and classic prints.

"It's truly the premier collection of Hispanic art in the country," he said.

"It's important to bring artwork to campus that our students will not see anywhere else around here. It's a unique opportunity and it's something you would have to travel to find. Everything from religious issues to sociopolitical issues is in this display."

Salgado is a Chicago businessman who has committed his life to helping his community. Coleccion Salgado includes 70 pieces of work from 30 different Latin American artists over the last 30 years.

"The point of the show is to introduce these relatively unknown Latin American artists, who have international reputations," Flanagan said.

Two of the better-known contemporary artists in this exhibit are Carlos Cortez and Nicolas de Jesus.

Cortez is an artist and writer who grew up in Milwaukee, then moved to Chicago. His parents were pro-union labor organizers.

"His works have images about issues that workers from Latin America face every day, addressing social and immigration issues," Flanagan says. "His prints reflect the rights of the people."

De Jesus' works illustrate life in telling detail about political strife. He is an indigenous citizen of Mexico and has lived in Chicago.

Some of his work shows Chicago as if it were Mexico, with scenes of fighting and oppression. He also focuses some of his work on el Dia de los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead, a Mexican holiday where deceased relatives visit their living relatives.

"In between are artists using narrative content, representative imagery in just a broad range of things," Flanagan said. "These are print aficionados."

Sarah Ullenberg, an education major at UW-Whitewater, volunteered for the Summer Arts Program at the Walker's Point Center of the Arts and worked with Flanagan during the installation of this exhibit at Walker's Point.

"By bringing Coleccion Salgado to the university, there is the potential to bring together the university and the Whitewater community with its growing Hispanic culture by engaging a process of education, providing positive influences, and enhancing awareness and an appreciation for the fine arts, community and diversity," she said.

"Latino artists have a different point of view than North American artists," Flanagan said. "You can see social and political commentary, religious commentary, religious imagery, folklore, mythical landscapes and different depictions of landscapes in this exhibit. We would like for our students to understamd these issues. I hope it generates some conversation."

For more information about the exhibit, visit www.uww.edu.




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