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.

Episode 37: Ada Bobonis gets the Rotund treatment for her installation at MAPR, and others on the San Juan scene—Martorell, Maldonado, Ayala, and the BlackBoxArt crew—also feel the fire.

Episode 38 is the calm that preceeds the storm, an extended visit to San Juan’s Museo de Arte Contemporáneo.

Episode 39 goes several better than last time, hitting every museum in creation just to prove a point. Then it settles down to talk about shows by Otero, Fontánez, and Pintado, and a pep talk by none other than César Trasobares.

Episode 40 asks, ”How did we get this far?“ The answer is far from clear, but it involves regular, only semi-warranted attacks on the local press and flattery lavished on actual artists. For example, in this episode we speak fondly and at length about Fernando Paes and el Museo de Arte de Caguas.

Episode 41 gets some mail of a sort and stoops to conquer once again, although what the point is, exactly, is lost on many readers. There’s an extended look at new paintings by Diógenes Ballester, which redeems the confusion somewhat.

Episode 42: when the going gets strange, the strange get going. Rotund World is on the case when =Desto shows Freddie Mercado. Antonio Martorell also gets the once-over.

Episode 43 is spelled A.B.M.B.

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
David Castillo 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. Better than a poke in the eye. Push the little orange dodad below and you will 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.


There’s nothing quite like this in Oregon . . .

This happens every time we break free of the furious, nagging orbit of the San Juan contemporary art scene. We spend a few weeks in the lovely, if watersoaked, boondocks of the Pacific Northwest, nestled in the bosom of the family. The clock loses some of its idiot urgency. Our old pals look happy to see us, they inquire about our health and flatter us no end with allusions to recent Rotundery, and life among the humans begins to look sanguine, perky, and emotionally hygienic for a change.

Then sure enough, upon our return, refreshed and veritably atwitter with goodwill, there is some new pointless brawl to greet us, a swift kick and a poke in the eye just for stepping off the plane. Ouch. At the moment the San Juan scene is erupting with the howls of the usual vested interests, not unlike those of the feral cats in heat that stalk the back alleys of Viejo San Juan, slinking about on their bellies like dying junkies. To our once-soothed ears, it’s an infernal racket, bound to raise our blood pressure to its usual levels for the next week or two, at least.

We’re exaggerating, of course, but frankly we’d much rather dwell on that dream-like time away, with its many useful lessons in tranquillity, good humor, and deeper meanings, just the thing for the overheated, all too frequently botherated boricua way of life. Or we’d love to focus on the island’s simpler pleasures, like the arrival of Los Tres Reyes Magos¡Los auténticos!—in Ponce. There is nothing quite like those golden-toed golems of the tropics, the boys with beatitude, Gaspar, Melchor, and Bastidor. Could that possibly be right? Anyhoo, every year on cue they’re hauled about in their custom-made Magosmobile, which if not chopped, channeled, and raked, has its very own Sears-grade canopy and matching thrones. The whole town loves these guys; perhaps the whole mountainous southern half of the island loves them. We found scant evidence that this is a San Juan thing, other than page after page of seasonal hoo-hah in El Güevo Día, but we’re used to their irrelevant drivel.

The Kings’ museum in Juana Díaz.

We’re convinced that the Tres Reyes Magos phenom is religio-celebrity hokum in its most exuberantly Puerto Rican form, completely on a par with the annual Miss Puerto Rico Universe fleshpot extravaganzas so beloved by island society top to bottom, admit it or not. Who was not transfixed by this year’s especially wacky divertissement, involving crying jags, swollen jowls, and ostensibly pepper-sprayed garments?

But alas, that is not what passes for news hereabouts. No, no, no, experts are barking away about the contemporary art scene’s terrible, perhaps even catastrophic bout of inertia: galleries closing, museums about to belly up, artists in dire straits.

The particulars of this queasy moment are a bit hazy since we’ve witnessed almost none of it firsthand, but the newspapers and various blogs-in-the-know are all arant about San Juan’s Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, which is either a) in a world of hurt, about to close its doors if all and sundry don’t rally to its cause and march upon el capitolio, beseeching the government for a hefty increase in the institution’s annual $500,000 operating budget, or b) in deep shit, having come a cropper through cronyism, myopia, decades of do-nothing ass-tending, and—says the whispered subtext—outright corruption.

The parties to these wildly diverging but equally wrought-up points-of-view are, on one hand, the museum’s directorate—long-time director Dra. María Emilia Somoza and, one supposes, the board of directors—or so it seems. That is, someone issued a call, via a bland, email-distributed .pdf, to “artists, gallery owners, professors, students, and other friends of the Museum of Contemporary Art of Puerto Rico” to descend upon the legislature. It’s a bit odd that no official connection to the museum appears—no logo, no museum-associated signatories, no endorsement by any named official—but the announcement’s rhetoric—“The museum has had a brilliant institutional trajectory in P.R. for twenty-four years”—makes it pretty clear it’s an inside job.

Another widely-distributed email, from a group of artists known as The Committee of Conditional Support—if only they were kidding—says, basically, “not so fast.” TCCS tries hard to maintain an even tone, assuring readers that “the community isn’t in favor of the museum’s disappearing.” What these folks want, they say, is “transparency” in the museum’s dealings with the public, by which they “demand to know,” among other things, the details of the museum’s finances, whether or not the museum has an acquisition fund, and what criteria it uses to acquire works.

Many of the questions are good ones, without a doubt. Others reveal the chronic mistrust and misconceptions that have dogged MAC—and every other institution that tries to make capital improvements—ever since artists first decided that public institutions are fit targets for whatever riles them. To wit, “Does the construction of [MAC’s] glass roof have anything to do with its shortfall of funds?” The museum’s director has taken quite a thumping in many quarters, so it’s not entirely unexpected that the first question on TCCS’s list is, “Was María Elena [sic] Somoza appointed [museum director] for life?” MAC’s problems may owe something to an entrenched regime, but the question, like the many attacks on Dra. Somoza’s person, smacks of convenient scapegoating for the complicated web of causes that surround the museum’s present circumstances, whatever they are.

And as for demanding answers, that’s strictly the privilege of the young and rash.

Do we have an opinion on the matter? You bet we do. It would be pertinent to know, as The Committee for Conditional Support implies without saying as much, just how real the museum’s financial crisis is. Beyond that, it strikes us as presumptuous, to be nice about it, for MAC to ask the art community to support an institutional strategy which has, by its own reckoning, gotten it into this mess, if a mess it is. The strategy is, in our view, not much. MAC lags behind other island institutions in its contemporary art programming and collecting. It has accumulated its permanent collection almost entirely by way of artist donations, and although no one denies that it’s gotten some good works, it is disingenuous to say that the institution has had “a brilliant institutional trajectory.” Without collector support, without gallery interest, without a budget to pay artists fair market value for their work, no institution can claim even a “mediocre institutional trajectory.”

On the other hand—as we never tire of telling you—given its meager resources, MAC has mounted some smart, handsome exhibitions in the last while. We think curator Brenda Torres Figueroa has done heroic work—witness her recent show from the permanent collection Restos and the prior Objetos de Gravamen y Causa—and both the museum’s directorate and its critics should fall all over themselves thanking her for making the world a better place.

We reckon there are numerous ways that MAC could get on its feet if it had the will to do so. In fact, we believe the museum could—and should—take the lead in contemporary art programming in Puerto Rico. Some steps would not cost the institution a cent. It should seriously consider, as Pedro Vélez has insinuated amid his bombardment of virtual Whistling Devils and cherry bombs, deaccessioning part or all of its collection and using that money for programming; becoming, as Vélez points out, a Kuntshalle. Simply by calling for collaboration among art institutions—sharing exhibitions, events, and facilities with the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture, Museo de Arte de Ponce, even the benighted Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico—MAC would cause the entire local artworld to faint at once from surprise and wonder. It couldn’t hurt the museum’s prospects to assiduously court its Santurce neighbors, like the very groovy Metro Theater across the street. Torres Figueroa has previously borrowed works from private collections in the community—a not uncommon curatorial practice—with excellent results.

Just by showing a new hand, Museo de Arte Contemporáneo may win back some of the community goodwill it seems to have squandered over the years. Fresh ideas alone probably won’t unfurrow the tightly knitted brows of those who walk about in a perpetual tizzy of quibbling and beard tugging, but they’re likely to attract the attention of others who’ve gone away mad or simply perplexed, the museum-goers, collectors, artists, and other interested parties the museum could ill-afford to lose.

Object showroom anyone?

But enough Rotund woolgathering. As controversies go, this one’s a puff of smoke. For something really, really troubling, we invite you to check out the exhibition of Domingo Garcia’s “selected works” at Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico. We’re betting that the only curatorial hand in this folly was the artist’s own.

For an entirely different, thoroughly uplifting artistic experience, go immediately to Galería Guatibirí on Avenida González in Rio Piedras, and take in the panoramic cityscapes of Javier Maldonado O’Farrill. These digitally manipulated photographic prints contain images of armed struggle and revolutionary figures inserted into ordinary, even banal street scenes. Maldonado O’Farrill calls his show We Support Our Troops, but the sophisticated thinking and formal beauty of his approach make these works painterly studies of texture and color as much as the sort of easy political commentary the title implies. Call Galería Guatibirí at 787-250-1959 to ascertain business hours and directions, and you might plead with the chatty, highly entertaining director, Rubén Malavé, to extend the show beyond its February 4th ending date.

West Side Light Rail’s Zoo Station, 260' below ground.

A detail of The Oregon Holocaust Memorial.

Stay tuned for more about those Magos, plus a look at public art—and public memorials —in the Pacific Northwest, where such things matter. Of course, they also matter very much in Puerto Rico, and we’ll show you how.


Have you not visited our extensive coverage of Art Basel Miami Beach a hundred times? Not to brag, but we were perhaps the only member of the international press corps, ahem, to focus on the fate of the Miami art scene in the shadow of that monster of art commerce and trumped-up glamor. See what we mean if for some reason you missed out.