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.

Episode 44 visits Ponce to take in the razzmatazz surrounding those lovable Tres Reyes Magos, then asks a silly question about a certain San Juan art museum.

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. Fanciful opinions for the unwashed. Hit the orangeness below and guess what? You can 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.

Hats Off to Larry

The rocky ship Museo de Arte Contemporáneo.

Wow. Dra. María Emilia Somoza, founder and longtime director of San Juan’s supposedly beleaguered Museo de Arte Contemporáneo (MAC), often seems to be several cards short of a full deck, especially when it comes to matters surrounding, of all things, contemporary art. Turns out that at any given moment, Miyuca—as she’s known to those who love her and those who hate her—is probably the slyest one in the room.

For over two decades—and counting—Miyuca has overseen an institution which appears to limp, wheeze, and groan from year to year, depending on the will of the island government for its operating budget—pegged by law in 1994 at $500,000 a year—and the largesse of artists—not exactly the most well-fed among us—to build its collection. Some would say that a museum that relies on artist donations is as much as begging for second-rate holdings, to put it mildly. Miyuca and her board of directors are not among the poo-pooers, however, estimating the worth of MAC’s collection at a whopping—and fantastic by any measure—$8 million. Well, could be. We happen to publish a prosperous, influential web magazine that is easily worth $10 million. Just ask us.

A few weeks ago, Miyuca engineered a call to arms to the local art community, announcing via poster and email that MAC was in its death throes. The $500,000 was not covering expenses, the document asserted, and the museum was going to have to close its doors permanently if the legislature did not immediately double its budget. The widely circulated missive called on “artists, gallerists, professors, students, and friends of the Museum of Contemporary Art” to march on the legislature, to secure the museum’s future and protect its “brilliant institutional trajectory.”

The response to these jowl-flapping histrionics was predictable, and suitably bizarre. Some artworld figures wrung their hands on cue; others publicly held their noses. A group of young artists immediately coalesced around the banner “The Committee of Conditional Support,” which asked all kinds of impertinent questions about the museum’s finances, its acquisition policies, and the rather murky nature of the tenure of its director. A more impudent crowd called for the immediate resignation of Dra. Somoza and the board, citing incompetence, malfeasance, and that most deadly blot, out-of-touchness. But for the most part, public sentiment seemed to take the call at face value, and there were cries of alarm and a flurry of mass emails rallying around MAC’s cause.

Left to right: Elías Adasme, Miyuca, Ramón del Valle, Rafael Trelles.

We attended a press conference at which Miyuca spoke, with her board president, Ramón del Valle, and a couple of artists surrounding her on the dais. She was in fine form, and you would think—as “That’s right!” “Isn’t that the truth!” and other bully ejaculations filled the air—that the event was a low-grade tent revival instead of a rote pretext for getting one’s message before the cameras and onto reporters’ notepads. The director provided several inadvertent highlights during that tightly scripted, too-long morning, the most hilarious of which was her assertion that the press conference itself was evidence that the museum has widespread community support.

From the collection: a partial view of Tania L. Frontera’s “Wanted for a Culture,” 1994.

She told a whopper about MAC’s commitment to “vanguard” art, and when a reporter asked about a plan B, in case the legislators were disinclined to be swayed by a parade of placard- waving, black-clad artists, especially in these times of real trouble for many Puerto Ricans, she averred darkly that the legislators would “have to answer to the will of the people.”

It was a tedious and painfully parochial two or so hours, exposing the museum’s complete lack of preparation or a strategy for entering into any battle more complicated than a grade-school lunch-money holdup. We also wondered why MAC’s antagonists, and especially the local artworld’s many loud-quacking Miyuca-abominators, didn’t avail themselves of such an obvious chance to sink their chompers into the director’s rear end, which was definitely up in the air that morning—and we dragged ourselves away convinced that if MAC’s economic crisis was real, the institution was doomed.

And how wrong we were, ho, ho. How wrong the sympathetic conventional wisdom was, and how wrong the carpers and the righteously peeved. Only the most paranoid, habitual cranks—like the always spitting Pedro Vélez—got it right, and that was probably a coincidence. When the afternoon editions of Primera Hora, El Vocero, and El Güevo Día hit the stands—or rather when their digital editions went online—the news was—surprise! surprise!—that the marching bohemian horde had been met by not one, but three key legislators—Senate president Kenneth McClintock and Senators Jorge de Castro Font and Migdalia Padilla—with prepared speeches and assurances that they had already signed a measure approving the entire two-fold boost, pending the approval of the budget office. MAC’s budget increase apparently was a done deal before the march ever began.

Well done, Miyuca. We’re betting it was a simple, easily struck bargain among backroom pals over a steam-tray criollo lunch and quivering jello dessert: provide us an eye-catching photo-op with some of your zany artist types and you can keep your sinecure, wretched though it is.

Well, every time we think we’ve plumbed the depths of our cynicism, something new comes up to shock and amaze us. In our short time on the island, this is one of the best examples —and certainly the most graphic—of how easily-massaged public sentiment responds to a good old country goose.

Of course, some folks came out smelling like roses, and others really stank up the room.

The Sweet Smell of Success:

Dra. María Emilia Somoza gets her way year after year, even while much of the art scene makes barfing noises at the mere mention of her name. She’s a survivor and a truly clever dick, whom the world is forever underestimating by big gobs.

Pedro Vélez: he’ll be the first to tell you that he told you so.

• How did the photogenic, increasingly glib Quintín Rivera-Toro come to be the spokesman for a generation? When did the zing go out of his pronouncements? Do goats really eat tin cans?

Bigtime Stink-Feet:

• The dozens of artists and other cultural figures who allowed themselves to be taken in by the blatant fabrication known as MAC’s “crisis” have given new meaning to the phrase “hapless shmoes.” Our own inattention to the now-obvious is a notable failure of perception.

• The arts and culture czar at El Güevo Día, Mario Alegre Barrios, has presumably had his eye on the art scene for over sixteen years. His coverage of the MAC affair included an appeal to Miyuca to change her ways, written in the style of the mannered tête-à-tête intimacy the editor loves to flog in his most faux-literary moments. It appears that Alegre Barrios couldn’t smell a rat if it crawled into his comb-over and died. (The online version of the article is no longer accessible unless you want to lay out $11 and get hopping mad trying to navigate the byzantine ENDI archives. It’s entertaining, but hardly worth two movies. See if your hoarding grannie didn’t keep the Sunday paper from January 27.)

What New Folly Awaits?

Dra. Somoza, who hasn’t changed her tune in over twenty-three years, continues to be the caretaker of Puerto Rico’s official temple of contemporary art. It’s a deeply depressing picture, to be sure, but judging from the readiness of scores of people to dance to that irksome drone, it’s hard to gainsay MAC’s historical meaning or its potential value for some shinier future for contemporary art on the island. We have all kinds of thoughts on the subject, and there is no shortage of ideas in the air concerning what MAC’s true shape should be. (For one excellently horrified, detailed argument, see the latest Trance Líquido.)

Meantime, we’ll content ourselves with contemporary programming elsewhere: the consistent, very good work of Elaine Delgado, director of the visual arts section of the Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueño (ICP), the periodic forays into contemporary art by the venerable Museo de Arte de Ponce, and the happy accidents that one occasionally stumbles upon at Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico. Young artists, the true innovators, are always kicking out the jams, and as quickly as one tagRom, Área, or =Desto disappears, another one pops into view.

Surely the more determined malcontents among us, freshly enlivened by the swift kick Dra. Somoza and her legislative cronies delivered, will call loudly and frequently for the director’s head. It will be interesting to see how long it is—if ever—before Miyuca, the consummate player, draws her pittance in some other dank corner; perhaps doing nails in her dotage, or slinging hash for the overfed swells who once were her patrons.

More Scary Monsters

Really, believe us when we say we’re bored silly with the island’s seemingly endless capacity for throat-grabbing, jumping up and down, and eye-popping hyperventilation. Is it the over-garlicked mofongo, or what?

We’ve taken to hiding out in Ponce, where the unalloyed jolliness of Los Tres Reyes Magos—who smiled beatifically upon us here for an entire afternoon—has given way before our eyes to Ponce Carnaval, another timeless down-island tradition. Like San Juan’s stinky artworld brouhahas, Carnaval is all about community-sanctioned hijinks and spectacle, but we find it more wholesome by a factor of ten.

A street show of eighteen years of hand-painted Carnaval posters.

The essence: dancing teenagers and the Carnaval court.

More essence: a freelance, beauty-bopping vejigante.

And again: it’s Ponce, after all . . .

. . . with the boys in the band.

Can the San Juan art scene ever hope to be this good?

For whom Carnaval rolls.

But wait. Let’s return to the San Juan scene for a moment. Isn’t it our Rotund business to uncover the salutary amidst the sickly, to root about in the muck and mire for some tasty morsels, so you don’t have to? We’re happy to declare that the trumped-up MAC “controversy” is hardly the only thing going on in the área metropolitana.

Miguel Luciano’s “Filiberto Ojeda Uptowns/Machetero Airforce Ones,” 2007, and . . .

. . . Raquel Quijano’s “Andamios,” 2007. Two from “Estigma.”

The ICP opened two very worthwhile shows recently: at La Ballajá, Estigma, a kind of prelude to the Instituto’s upcoming print triennial, curated by Marimar Benítez and featuring some of the most innovative trends in contemporary printmaking on and off the island; and at La Puntilla, Del mar, la tierra y la memoria de los huesos, majestic old and new photographs by Guillermo Real. Detailed information about Estigma resides here and you can get the straight skinny on the Real exhibition here. Look closely, and you’ll find all the pertinent data you need concerning hours and addresses. (Truth in packaging advisory: one of our number is a member of the comité de asesores for the ICP’s visual arts program. Though here’s also a word to the unwise: this is news, Bubba, not a review.)

The terrific series of project-room exhibitions curated by Marysol Nieves at Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico (MAPR) may be just a fond memory—her exhibitions included new works by Allora and Calzadilla, Anthony Goicolea, Milton Rosa-Ortiz, and Ada Bobonis—but by some freak inertial disturbance in the museum’s wildly heaving trajectory, a fine new exhibition just opened there, perhaps to deodorize the neighboring Domingo García extravaganza.

Torres Llorca: every surface that isn’t painted is covered with cut newspaper.

Rubén Torres Llorca—wily Miamian, world citizen, flinty refugee of the storied Eighties generation of Cuban artists—spent several days in San Juan cobbling together his baffling new installation, Los nombres han sido cambiados para proteger al culpable. Torres Llorca is no easy read, even though his works are covered with words and each bears a cryptic but unmistakably barbed adage. On one level, the work is easy to like because it’s so well made. On another, standing before it you can’t help but feel that someone—perhaps it’s you—is being made the butt of a nasty joke.

The museum has posted a good bit of information about the exhibition and some images on its website, here, and we suggest you visit MAPR toot sweet. In case you’ve never been, you’ll find the place at Avenida de Diego 229 in Santurce. It’s open Tuesday and Thursday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. On Wednesday the hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.—we believe admission is free that day, beginning in the afternoon—and on Sunday they’re 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Call the museum at 787-977-6277 for additional information, including the entrance fee, which is nominal in any event.


Is there an echo in here? We admit to offering you some of the above MAC verbiage before, though not in so many words. Before having a cow over our lack of originality, understand that Rubén Torres Llorca himself considers originality to be just one more art dealer trick to move product. In any event, you can visit the recent past here if your belly isn’t full of MAC biliousness already.