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    Bertoncini, Deanna
    Speakeasy / by Deanna Bertoncini
    New Art Examiner (Chicago). -- Vol. 16, no. 6 (Feb. 1989)
    p. 13-14 : ill.
    Journal article – Essays
    Bertoncini, Deanna. "Speakeasy." New Art Examiner (Chicago) 16, no.6 (February 1989): 13-14.

In this commentary, Deanna Bertoncini, the founder and executive director of the Latino Arts Coalition and Gallery in Chicago, critiques the terms “Latino” and “Hispanic” as applied to the work of Latin American and Latino artists and with the recent increase of mainstream interest in their works. She declares that Latino artists do not produce “Latino art,” a descriptor which does not account for the abundance and diversity of works produced by artists responding to the “political and social idiosyncrasies of more than twenty-seven nations,” as well as the experience of living in the United States. Bertoncini notes that the growth of the Latino population in the United States has fueled interest in Latino art, and that this interest has manifested itself in major exhibitions funded by commercial interests wishing to capitalize on the minority market. Unfortunately, the Latino artists who should be spearheading the movement are not the ones setting the norms for Latino art. Instead, curators who imagine Latino art as signifying works with a propensity toward the naïve, folkloric, or fantastic are setting these norms. Latino artists, Bertoncini writes, must either defend or condemn this style, and Latino art historians and aestheticians need to be on curatorial panels.


This text by Deanna Bertoncini, the founder and executive director of the Latino Arts Coalition and Gallery in Chicago, appeared in the February 1989 issue of the New Art Examiner (a critical journal published in Chicago from 1973 to 2002). In the process of questioning the heightened interest in Latino and Latin American art by mainstream institutions, she considers the problem of how U.S. curators’ and collectors’ knowledge of Latin American art has been shaped by the tastes of a market looking to confirm stereotypes. She also discusses the 1987 Indianapolis exhibition Art of the Fantastic, which generated considerable debate about representing Latin American and Latino culture in the United States. This document addresses topics relevant to the themes of “Resisting Categories: Latin American and/or Latino?” and “Suprarealism, Magic Realism, and the Fantastic,” because it considers what constitutes Latino art and the implications and expectations of the mainstream art world in finding the fantastic, primitive, or exotic in Latino art.

Victor Sorell; Harper Montgomery, collaborator
Institute for Latino Studies, University of Notre Dame, South Bend, USA
Deanna Bertoncini for New Art Examiner, Chicago, IL