Voices and visions, Hispanic style

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The Art in City Hall’s “Voices and Visions” exhibit is a celebration of Philadelphia’s Hispanic heritage through the art work of nine local artists born in Latin-American countries.

The paintings of Henry Bermudez and Isabel Urdaneta stand out for their fine craftsmanship combined with the dreamy quality of their vision.

Bermudez, a native of Venezuela, who we have mentioned before, most recently in Roberta’s post on a mural collaboration that includes Frank Hyder and Paul Santoleri, offers paintings of all-over tropical vegetation and weird people and magical creatures. They work has a bit of a Unicorn Tapestries flavor mixed with a Magical Realism sabor. The painting at the top mixes American eagles with Native American power and Hispanic decorative sensibility, and “Il Viajio Rojo della Madonna” (right) draws in religious and ritualistic powers.

Urdaneta, also from Venezuela, uses symbolism that has a charming, illustrational quality again mixed with Magical Realism and hot colors. The work that comes to mind that I’ve seen most recently is the work of Cuban artist Fuentes Ferrin who I posted about this past First Friday. While Ferrin maintains a child-like point of view of chunky humans in a giant world, Urdaneta comes across as a grown-up woman in a dream world (image left, “Azucar”).

Jose Ali Paz’s “Dulce Cana de Azucar” (right) captures the dignity of workers and the rhythms of their labor. Paz also is from Venezuela and also is a muralist. In his work, the realism and joy and rhythmic qualities of daily life are what stand out.

Ana Uribe’s portraits of Narberth, sport wild, out-of-control tree branches that have a safety-net, nest-like feel that I liked (left). I personally prefer Uribe’s large murals that she did for the Mural Arts Program, however, to these small canvases. Uribe is from Colombia.

Also Mexican Brujo de la Mancha’s talismanic little sculptures made of discarded objects have some zing (right, “Brujo Valador”). This cross between a fly and superman and the artist himself, whose name means witch, was especially charming.

Other work include’s work by three Colombian natives, Alberto Becerra (tender portraits and prints), Ruben Bermejo and Gina Maria Echeverry.

Puerto Rican Virginia Sanchez, a.k.a. Aina Lode, has a portrait of a sexy red bloom called “Alma Tropical” (left).

All of these artists touched me with their yearning for the tropical and cultural world of their past, a sense of community gone. The show us up until Oct. 15, and exhibition hours are Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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