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This letter was written by the Puerto Rican printmaker Lorenzo Homar in San Juan, Puerto Rico on January 12, 1977, to the Colombian artists Pedro Alcántara Herrán and Virginia Amaya Valdivieso. Homar begins his letter on a friendly note, congratulating the two artists on the prize they had received at Intergrafik-Berlin (GDR), mentioning his thoughts on the TEGC (Taller Experimental de Gráfica de Cali) [Cali Experimental Print Workshop] and the latest political events on the Caribbean island, and expressing his concerns about colonialism and capitalism. He briefly refers to the projects he has just completed in Cali and the ones he will soon be starting in Puerto Rico. He says that he is annoyed with Marta Traba, describing the art critic as an “elitist woman” who wrote an article about the Puerto Rican visual arts that according to him was so “vindictive that, to finish me off and destroy my way of life, she described me as an artist whose work is in bad taste.” Homar ends his letter with an affectionate farewell and sends greetings to his friends and to others in the artistic and political milieu in Cali, including: María de la Paz Jaramillo and her husband, the architect Benjamín Barney; the directors of the Museo de Arte Moderno La Tertulia, Maritza Uribe de Urdinola and Gloria Delgado; and some “comrades” in the PCC (Colombian Communist Party), such as María Eudoxia Arango [Marilú Arango] and her husband, the architect Germán Cobo as well as, of course, the Communist leader in the Valle del Cauca region, José Cardona Hoyos.
This letter sheds light on the close relationship that existed among the Puerto Rican printmaker Lorenzo Homar (1913–2004), and the Colombian artists Pedro Alcántara Herrán (b. 1942) and Virginia Amaya Valdivieso (b. 1954). It is a remarkable document because of the confidences involved, which provide insight into Homar’s political ideas and his role as a “teacher’s teacher,” as indicated by the advice and opinions he dispenses concerning the TEGC (Taller Experimental de Gráfica de Cali) [Cali Experimental Print Workshop] and the print portfolios. Homar met Alcántara Herrán in 1970 at one of his exhibitions at the Galería El Morro in Old San Juan. Their friendship blossomed from then on as they worked together on a number of art projects and found kinship in their leftist ideology. Some chronological reports claim that Homar was in Cali on two separate occasions: in 1972 when he taught a silkscreen class at the Museo de Arte Moderno La Tertulia—the same year that the multinational Cartón company in Colombia began to sponsor the publication of print portfolios; and again in 1976, when he directed the Primer Portafolio Serigráfico del Museo La Tertulia [La Tertulia Museum’s First Silkscreen Portfolio], [as recorded in the “Boletín No 94 por el Museo de Arte Moderno de la Tertulia” [Bulletin no. 94 by the La Tertulia Museum of Modern Art], see doc. no. 1093256]. Alcántara also worked on that project, printing the silkscreen submissions of some of the noted artists who participated, such as the sculptors Édgar Negret (1920?2012) and Enrique Grau (1920–2004); and the painters Juan Antonio Roda (1921–2003) and Luis Caballero (1943–1995). In his letter, Homar asks his friends to circulate their opinions of the portfolio, the workshop, and the Museum.
The Taller Experimental de Gráfica de Cali was in existence from 1974 to 1976; in 1977 it became the Taller Corporación Prográfica de Cali [Cali Prográfica Corporation Workshop], directed by the cultural agent Maria Eudoxia Arango and Pedro Alcántara Herrán. This letter was found in Alcántara’s personal archive, and he generously made it available to the researchers. Though the letter is not signed by Homar, Alcántara confirmed the Puerto Rican artist’s home address and the unmistakable handwriting in the margin on the second page where the following phrase had been added: “We spent a month working at a commercial workshop.”