The editorial categories are research topics that have guided researchers during the recovery phase and continue to be the impetus behind the Documents Project’s digital archive and the Critical Documents book series. Developed by the project’s Editorial Board, each of the teams analyzed this framework and adapted it to their local contexts in developing their research objectives and work plans during the Recovery Phase. Learn more on the Editorial Framework page.
In this lecture given on the occasion of the opening of the exhibition Primera Exposición Independiente de Arte Puertorriqueño [First Independent Exhibition of Puerto Rican Art], Puerto Rican educator Concha Meléndez asserts that this is the tenth exhibition that Professor Walt Dehner has organized at the Universidad de Puerto Rico (UPR). The show provides an overview of the development of Puerto Rican art until the time of the event (1936). Meléndez states that subject matters such as jibarismo (the word jíbaro refers to Puerto Rican peasants), historical allegory, and costumbrismo predominate in Puerto Rican painting. Meléndez makes specific critical comments on artists such as Rafael Arroyo Gely, Julio Tomás Martínez, Miguel Pou, Horacio Castaing, as well as North American painters residing in Puerto Rico such as Dehner himself, Henry W. Dooley, Owen White, and Gretchen Kratzer Wood.
Dr. Concha Meléndez (Caguas, 1896–San Juan, 1983) was the founder of the Hispanic Literature Department at the Universidad de Puerto Rico, Río Piedras campus, which she chaired for thirty years. In the 1930s, she wrote many essays that she later published in literary journals and the general press, and presented as lectures.
Edited by Muna Lee de Muñoz Marín, this issue of the newsletter, Art in Review, discusses the exhibitions organized and the works acquired by Walter Dehner (New York, 1898–California, 1955), the director of art at the Universidad de Puerto Rico at that time. This issue, which was published in 1937, offers an early view of the artistic and cultural scene in Puerto Rico. These mostly little-known documents also illustrate the importance of the Universidad de Puerto Rico as the primary venue for the first exhibitions held on the island.
Documents related to this topic include the title page of this issue of Art in Review (doc. No. 823185); “Other Gifts to the Art Collection of the University of Puerto Rico” (doc. No. 824943); and “First Independent Exhibition of Puerto Rican Art/Catálogo de la Primera Exposición Independiente de Arte Puertorriqueño” (doc. No. 823306).
Known as “Walt,” Dehner was not only an art educator in Puerto Rico from 1929 to 1946, but also a painter, lithographer, and photographer. Aware of the limitations of the island’s artistic milieu, he did what he could to encourage and support Puerto Rican artists. An important aspect of his work in education was organizing exhibitions, including Primera y segunda exhibición independiente de arte e historia (First and Second Exhibition of Art and History, 1929–1931); Exposición de grabados y litografías (Exhibition of Prints and Lithographs, 1930–31); Progressive Conservative Show (1931); Exposición de arte americano en blanco y negro (Exhibition of American Art in Black and White, 1932); Tercera exhibición de arte puertorriqueño (Third Exhibition of Puerto Rican Art, 1933); and Exposición de arte contemporáneo de México (Exhibition of Contemporary Art from Mexico, 1935).