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.

Episode 33 visits La Perla and then takes off its hat to the organizers of the now-annual neighborhood art and music fest, La Perla Habla.

Episode 34 returns, if not from the dead, then from what seems like a long sleep. Reviews of Espacio 1414's latest doings, the good works at =Desto, and thoughts on the new boys in town, Galería Candela.

Episode 35: Why do we persist in making rude fun of the island’s leading newspaper? And is it possible that the San Juan art scene deserves so many column inches of Rotund blather?

Episode 36 travels all the way to Miami to bring you news of the greater world, needing an extra page to do the job right.

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
Galería Candela
Programa de Artes Plástics del ICP
CIRCA Puerto Rico
¿Dónde Veo Arte?
El Status
MSA-Xperimental Art
Trance Líquido
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’s satire, folks, all in snide fun. Don’t believe a word of it. Nonetheless, you can now subscribe to our RSS feed.

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

Contact us at this address or this one. Note that is defunct, R.I.P.

Rock Steady

Estados sensibles, the new installation by Ada Bobonis in the project space at el Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico, is a kind of marvelous airborne contraption, though there is nothing mechanical about it and, in terms of physics, at any rate, it’s as earthbound as a house under construction. We say “marvelous” because within its strict geometry and rudimentary materials, the work is all flighty illusion, full of inversions, optical pleasures, and lyrical oppositions.

One of the installation’s best tricks is that it calls to mind a number different things at once, without nearly being any one of them. At first glance the installation resembles a weirdly proportioned set of on-the-cheap bleachers, or the underpinnings of an impossibly constricted dwelling. It’s made largely of construction’s most basic material—the knotty 2x4s used as throwaway forms for footings and the hidden skeletons on which walls are hung—and it’s surrounded by a handful of the artist’s photographs of monumental scaffoldings and other makeshift, new-construction buttresses.

But there is nothing makeshift about Estados sensibles. Quite the opposite. It’s detailed to a fare-thee-well, each joint cut and fit precisely. The workmanship is so attentive, in fact—it appears that wooden pegs were used for the joinery instead of nails or screws—you might think the crew chief is an Old World puritan at heart. (The night of the opening, we talked to artist Braulio Espinosa Castillo—hardly one of those—who told us that he did the work’s carpentry.)

Bobonis likes to invest her installations with smart, and deeply affecting, double meanings, or plays on common sense. Sobrecielo, her 2000 work which is part of el Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico’s permanent collection—and presently viewable just around the corner from Estados sensibles—looks like an inverted, carefully manicured hedge from an English garden, though it’s made of synthetic materials and hangs above the viewer like a heavy cloud. The new work shares with Sobrecielo this down-the-rabbithole sensation of what is up and what down, since the gallery’s gray carpeting evinces something like a limitless sky and its white ceiling serves as solid ground. But Estados sensibles is yet more disarming, calling horizontality and even balance into question.

The wooden structure at the center of the work consists of two stair-stepped sections which are mirror images of each other. An inversion appears to take place before the viewer’s eyes, down the length of a single board which both sections share. The “upright” side of the structure, from the earth-bound visitor’s point-of-view, sits upside-down on its piece of “sky”, while its identical twin “hangs” from the “ground” above. Alice anyone? Are we floating in deep space yet, far from gravity’s plausibility?

This is only the most evident illusion and the broadest part of the joke. The work’s other deceptions pop into view a bit at a time. How much like drawing the sculpture is, its play of lines overtaking its familiar volumetric solidity once you begin circling the room. Look beyond those mundane piney surfaces and into the structure’s mathematical depths: your sense of balance returns and the work’s fabulous logic becomes as satisfying as a solved jigsaw puzzle. The surfaces of the boards themselves—a sight so common we hardly acknowledge it under most circumstances—attain a kind of transcendent beauty in the order and cleanliness that Bobonis has imbued them with, their dark, sappy knots standing amidst the wood grain’s russets and beiges like rocks in a mountain stream or comets in an earth-toned Milky Way. The wood’s ordinary qualities, so transformed, provide a rich, rhythmic counterpoint to the structure’s angularity and the fussy perfection its transitional passages aspire to.

We’d like to say that the photographs add something to this remarkably variable, almost symphonic weave of effects and ideas. We would guess that they’re intended to emphasize certain themes: the beauty of the quotidian and its converse, the omnipresence of beauty in the everyday. The play of inside and out is likewise evident in the photographs’ half- made or scarcely begun places. And, of course, central to these homely panoramas are ready-made versions of one of art’s most venerable, dependable motifs, the grid.

Yet the photos seem just a step too far, one last utterance in case you don’t get the point, an afterthought in what must have been an unexpectedly lengthy and surprising sequence of impulses and calculations. Something so good, why stop? But our own feeling is that there is a revelatory purity to the structure itself, a grace that extends exactly from the outer edge of its physical presence to the unseeable, perhaps unfathomable, limits of its inner workings. It would be hard to improve on the simplicity and ordinariness of the 2x4, and to outdo the sublime uses to which Bobonis has put them.

Thanks to the artist for supplying us with the images for the preceding, all of them taken by Johnny Betancourt.

What Else Can You Show Me?

Well, these are a few of our favorite things, shows that opened recently in San Juan and environs, and that you’re sure to catch if you act quickly. We’ll just mention a few of the dizzying array of exhibitions on at present and recommend you to the various web sites that are actually doing their jobs for the clin-dets. (Clinical details for those who might not know.) Give us a break! We just got back to town, and we’ll catch up one of these days. Promise. What a dolor de la cabeza! But what fun!

First above is, of course, the island’s King of Rococo, Antonio Martorell, outdoing even himself with a grand, grandiose, and grandiloquent display of toasted artifacts, Martorell: DF, at La Ballaja. Following the Great One, another artist from the impending geezer class, Adal Maldonado, who’s graced us with a wide-ranging look at the man and the method, Blueprints for a Nation, at La Puntilla. Next are two works by up-and-coming Antonio Ayala, whose show of graphically jazzy paintings, 30 08 07, is the latest outburst at the party palace of Viejo San Juan, Casa Candela. Finally, a most amazing enterprise from the guys and gals—we assume there are gals involved—at BlackBoxArt entitled The Lab, a play on the Trexi phenomenon, whatever that is. You can get a good idea from the two images above, the one on the left being the basic ten inches or so high blank Trexi given to each of twenty artists, and the one on the right a seriously doctored Trexi done up by none other than Nuyorican Miguel Luciano. Wow! Not only was the opening a great party, DJ and all, the outcome was impressive.

We hope to give these and other shows some more or less substantial play in upcoming editions of Rotund World, but don’t hold your breath. Do what the smart folks do for gallery contact information, hours, and addresses by visiting one of the many excellent arts web sites which actually keep abreast of the whirlwind that’s the contemporary scene. These inlcude Autogiro, Repuesto, Trance Líquido, and ¿Donde Veo Arte? They’ll give you the lowdown on the up and up, or at least great photographs of the messy aftermaths.

One thing we can be sure of: Do not, we repeat, do not miss new paintings from Nathan Budoff at Galería 356, Diplomacia Cotidiana, opening Friday night, September 7th, according to what we read in the otherwise odious El Nueva Día. (Don’t blame us if they’re wrong.) Galería 356 is located at César González 356, natch, the phone number is 787-282-7820, and the very good web site is accessible here.

Want to give Rotund World some backtalk? Email the authors.

Return with us now to Miami, part 1 and part 2.