Episode1, part 1, a brief, riled-up soliloquy about life in Puerto Rico.

Episode 1, part 2, a close-up look at one of the island’s most personable coffee roasting operations, Café Mayor, plus Rotund’s first roundup of art shows.

Episode 2, part 1, in which we review Pedro Vélez's "Godfuck," study an art sale posing as an exhibition, and get a haircut.

Episode 2, part 2: the haircut continues, there’s a regrettable moment with fruit, and we drop by the fresh San Juan art-o-rama =DESTO for a talk with the founders.

Episode 3, part 1 covers, if not the waterfront, at least that occasional Nuyorican-Borinquen artfest “The (S) Files” at Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico, and visits scenic Caguas to marvel at another new kid on the block, ÁREA.

Episode 3, part 2 takes a wild ride on the Tren Urbano.

Episode 4, part 1 gets the unexpected: some mail. In part 2, we hit the road for points south, with stops at the Frade Museum, El Cuñao, King’s Cream, and Museo de la Historia de Ponce.

Episode 5, part 1 weighs Puerto Rico’s travails against Miami’s prosperity and scratches its head. Why does Fred Snitzer say the things he says?

Episode 5, part 2: more art shows and the artists who make them, including the evergreen Antonio Martorell and a stealthy group called El Polverío.

Episode 6, part 1 and part 2 offer blow-by-blow coverage of Puerto Rico’s first-ever art fair, CIRCA 2006, and the whole world asks, “What’s it all about, Rotund?”

Episode 7 takes the slow train to Hato Rey and Galerías Prindari, where it meets the friendly natives.

Episode 8 knocks on the door of the Berezdivin collection, hoping to get in, and then muses disapprovingly about el Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico.

Episode 9, part 1 wallows in the paradoxes of summer in Puerto Rico, including a curious exhibition at la Escuela de Artes Plásticas, while part 2 looks at the work of painter-writer Javier Martínez.

Episode 10: the excellent exhibition space tagRom has a birthday and the laggardly Rotund crew tries to catch up on San Juan art doings, while Tiny Type travels southward to watch Rafael Trelles do his thing at el Museo de Arte de Ponce.

Episode 11: “Two Cards from the Bottom of the Deck?” This could only mean Pedro Vélez.

Episode 12 invites all and sundry to get down with La Muestra Nacional de Arte. Plus, =Desto hits its stride and doesn’t look back.

Episode 13: is La Muestra Nacional the only thing on the Rotund mind? What about sex? Rapacious legislators? What happened to lechón, pasteles, and Heineken tall boys?

Episode 14 brings us yet more Muestra, but also, what? Yes, Pedro Vélez, now in his new role as Rotund art dick. Plus, new shows at San Juan’s La Liga de Arte and Crema Gallery.

Episode 15 proves that the island is cooking: The International Book Fair, experimental prints at =Desto, Milton Rosa-Ortiz at Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico. The Basquiat drawing show is not terrible, but what is a private collection doing at MAPR?

Episode 16: the government is pilloried, artists are praised, food is mentioned, jokes are cracked that no one gets.

Episode 17 visits Art Basels past. This may strike some readers as cheap and retrograde, but we think the vintage years never get old. Besides, we also look at a Julie Kahn trading-card project, and what could be groovier than that?

Episode 18 looks like a preview, reads like a preview, and even smells a bit like a preview. But is it really a preview?

Episode 19: Barcelona. Need we say more?

Episode 20 visits the Corozal redoubt of Titi Noris, then gets down and gets funky with Julio Micheli.

Episode 21 tramps through the dirty snow of New York City and sees a bunch of fur coats posing as art.

Episode 22: the good, the bad, and the dubious underbelly of the Puerto Rican art world: shows and those who write about them.

Episode 23 takes a break from the box step and does the boogaloo instead: some advice about going public.

Episode 24 is an extensive chat about a wide-ranging show, The DAMS 2. Who exactly are Dildo and Culo?

Episode 25 marks the beginning of the end. At least the end of the long wait for CIRCA 2007.

Episode 26: enough CIRCA to please the gluttonous and outrage the discreet.

Episode 27 provides one last thrill from the Puerto Rican scene before our Ecuadorian sojourn: we visit =Desto’s rad Publica.

Episode 28: Hello, Cuenca. Almost more news from one small Latin American country’s premiere art event than a reader wants to know. Still, we bet the artists involved will like seeing their names in print.

Episode 29 is as nutty as a fruitcake. Don’t miss the Coke cans, created by real, or once-real, graffiti artists.

Episode 30 brings us back to the island, but not without a detour to the Cuenca Biennial’s dark past.

Episode 31: Can you believe the nerve of some people? The Rotund crew talks about art critics sin fin, which means, of course, a lot of self references.

Episode 32: We call out the forces of evil, who no longer bother to answer. Someone will be sorry one day.

Not to be missed, of course: Booty Bundt, the cake that says it all, and BUY THIS NOW! an exclusive offer to be a part of this toney enterprize.


Follow the links to the Miami and Puerto Rican art worlds, and to perspectives bigger than both.

The Next Few Hours
Critical Miami
Miami Art Central
Locust Projects
Centro Cultural Español
Edge Zones
Brook Dorsch Gallery
Kevin Bruk Gallery
Bernice Steinbaum Gallery
Fredric Snitzer Gallery
Ambrosino Gallery
Leonard Tachmes Gallery
Diaspora Vibe Gallery
Miami Art Exchange
Worm-Hole Laboratory
The Moore Space

Museo de la Historia de Ponce
Museo Pío López Martínez
(The Frade Museum)
Museo de Arte de Ponce
Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico
Museo de Arte Contemporaneo
Museo de la UPR
Museo de las Américas
Los Balcones de San Juan
La Casa del Arte
Galería 356
Galería Comercial
Programa de Artes Plástics del ICP
CIRCA Puerto Rico
Trance Líquido
¿Dónde Veo Arte?
M de Mater O’Neill Audio Archive

Art Nexus Magazine
Tom Moody's Weblog
Edward Winkleman’s Blog

Rotund World covers Miami, la Isla, and the world.

The magazine is designed and written by Joel Weinstein. It is a periodic compendium of smirking opinion and unvarnished facts. Don’t blame us.

Photos, unless otherwise credited, are by none other than J Weinstein.

Contact Rotund World by emailing this address or, if you prefer, this one.

There’s No Business

La Perla is an historic residential neighborhood below Viejo San Juan, at the edge of one of the most picturesque stretches of shoreline surrounding the capitol sector. For us, La Perla has always been an intriguing mystery. It sits literally across the street from some of the primest real estate in Puerto Rico, yet remains largely untouched by the tourist trade or any attempt at urban snazzification.

Early on in our boricua sojourn, we were warned, perhaps way too melodramatically, that this few, densely built square blocks of apartments and houses, located in the shadow of the most dramatic ramparts of El Moro fortress, was not a neighborhood we ever wanted to venture into, being, for reasons not specified, a dangerous place. Shortly after we received that bit of advice, we read in the newspaper about a string of shootings in La Perla, and suddenly it was occupied territory, with police roadblocks, reports of constant, door- and window-busting raids, and complaints by citizens about rampant abuses by the occupying forces.

But we were also hearing some very different news, mainly concerning efforts by artist Chemi Rosado and people from the neighborhood to create a skateboarding bowl which would be a permanent replacement for the deteriorating wooden ramps then in use. This project was a bit of a sensation at the time—you can read one report here—and for us La Perla became considerably more interesting, a real neighborhood with a certain pride in its resourcefulness; a can-do attitude born of scarcity and official neglect. Although it didn’t register at the time, that was exactly the dynamic we attributed to the rise of those “alternative” art spaces we were so enamored of, whose origins, we believed, bespoke flaccid institutional behavior as much as artist initiative.

This is all by way of telling you that we recently ventured into La Perla for a look-see, on the occasion of La Perla Habla, a more or less homegrown weekend of music, open-air art workshops and exhibitions, film, and many other activities with a distinctly community- uplift flavor. The event was, by all accounts, the brainchild of artist Edgardo Larregui and his foundation Coco D’Oro; or, at any rate, Larregui is its most visible spokesman. Visit this page to get an idea of what was supposed to happen, and this one for a typical news report and some historical background. In fact, it seems to have been the effort of many people, both from within and without the community. There was, for example, an improvised film theater set up by the Viejo San Juan art organization BlackBoxArt, which when we visited was showing very well-made video doc about the historic riches of the neighborhood.

La Perla Habla, basking as it did in a perfect Puerto Rican weekend afternoon—blue skies, friendly crowds, raperos rapping, kayakers kayaking and swimmers bobbing in the gentle surf—was likely for many visitors a pleasant entertainment along the malecón, although certainly the organizers and residents were in it for deeper satisfactions. Peering out from the tiny crevice of our artworld perspective, La Perla Habla was an enormously refreshing change from the usual hustle-bustle of gallery shows, museum openings, studio visits, art fairs, and their putatively art-critical chorus, accompanied by the spam-like gusher of promotional emails and flyers, headache-inducing panel discussions with repeating loops of heated debates about nothing, mean-spirited conversations over endless tallboys in smoke- filled rooms, insanely self-absorbed bloggery quacking everywhere across the internet, coupled sadly with paltry actual sales of artworks: in general a pinched-voiced, trembling- handed, pasty-faced affair, usually conducted in the unhealthy neon effulgence of night. Not that we don’t adore the whole magilla—it’s our world, after all—but to our thinking it quickly becomes a mite hermetic and precious, and we appreciate the sight of folks milling happily in the open air.

From the uncomfortable moment we were greeted by amiable young men showing us product and fistfuls of dollar bills to the end of the afternoon when we were bid farewell by a bunch of clucking chickens, La Perla Habla redeemed the artworld as we’ve known it lately. We saw a few of the same people we see on opening nights, looking more smiley- faced and relaxed than usual. We were gratified to discover that BlackBoxArt was involved in a key way, showing that they are living up to their promises, always a jolly development though not often the case. And we finally got into that part of the city whose ominous mystery turned out to be far more of a genuine human truth, at least as we saw things in the light of an afternoon.

Another Blast from the Recent Past

Since we think that Elsa Meléndez is making big strides with the work she’s showing at Galería 356, and because we gave it only a passing, and not very good, glance in our recent discussion of Sin envoltura, the gallery’s present exhibition, we’d like to have another go. The images below are details of the installation Experiencia humana o comida para ratas (monotype on plexiglass, dimensions variable, 2007) in the gallery’s front window, a very groovy space for special projects. Meléndez thinks of herself as a printmaker, and the wooden boxes she has been making until recently do, in fact, contain figures which are essentially three-dimensional prints. She says that her new work is consistent with what she was doing with the boxes since the plexiglass sheets are a kind of plate on which she scribes the images.

Whether you swallow this or not, the figures are evocative and jolly and the rodents just the right touch to make the party a witchy one. We’d like to picture you, intrepid Rotund reader, hopping into your automobile and wasting just enough precious fossil fuel to get yourself to the gallery, which is near where Calle César González crosses Avenida Franklin D. Roosevelt. Galería 356 is open 11 to 5, Tuesday to Saturday, and Michele Fiedler, the director, says the show will be up until mid-August. Call 787-282-7820 with any questions or send the gallery an email.

Why not get all worked up for a change? Here’s a sure-fire way to get the blood boiling. Visit the most recent espisode of Rotund World, in which we show everyone our rosy red you-know-what and say unkind things about other people, even those who thought they were our friends. Upcoming: a few words about the fleeting, remarkable BLOG.

Cruising for an argument? Look no further.