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Bienvenidos a la casita


Pepon Osorio’s art has always told stories about people. For a man who came to art after a career as a social worker, it’s a natural coming together.

With his new public installation, “I have a story to tell you,” dedicated Wednesday, June 18 in North Philadelphia, the artist recounts 15 Philadelphia stories. The stories and the photographs that represent them are embedded in the glass walls of a “casita” (little house) in the congressocourtyard of Congreso de Latinos Unidos. They’re also in two windows in Congreso’s main building. (Congreso is the leading provider of services to Philadelphia’s Latino community.)

Osorio’s art (highlighted in Wendy Weinberg’s 2001 documentary “The Art of Activism”) reaches into the Latino community — embracing the good as well as the bad. peponspeakingIn this new piece, he’s gathered together archival snapshots portraying everything from a wedding…to a mother grieving over her dead son. “We raised a giant mirror to reflect back the community,” said Osorio at the dedication.

It’s a mirror all right, but it’s also a beacon — lit from within at night, reminding people of safe harbor in family and community. (Watch for night pictures, coming soon).

This is Osorio’s first permanent installation, according to Penny Bach, peponinsideexecutive director of Fairmount Park Art Association which sponsored the project as part of the New Landmarks Series.

Before the ribbon-cutting (crepe paper ribbon, that is), “Super Combo” a Latino band (see image of Papo, the percussionist) from Asociation de Musicos Latino Americano papo(AMLA) played and Osorio took people inside the casita. It looks like a little church and feels like an armored tank — safe and indestructable.

Osorio explained the process of transferring the photographs into the glass walls of the house. The pictures were embedded in the glass in a process invented especially for this project, he said. (The glass fabricator was Derix Glassstudios in Taunesstein, Germany.) The glass is impermeable to grafitti and to breakage. It’s also bulletproof.casitakids

Osorio’s arrival in Philadelphia several years ago was a blessing from above — so much energy, so much generosity and love, such intelligence.

Philadelphia now gets to repay his kindness. In addition to this great, public installation, ICA will host an exhibit of his indoor pieces in the fall of 2004, something ICA spokesperson John McInerney confirmed today in an email: “Pepon’s exhibition will open in the fall of 2004. There is not a signed contract but we have a verbal agreement so it looks very good.”

Very, very good.