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Six different writers and artists from Puerto Rico provide their view of an exhibition of Walt Dehner’s work and of his production in general.
In “Dominio de la técnica y multiplicidad de estilos” [Mastery of Technique and Multiplicity of Styles,] Antonio Colorado comments on Dehner’s watercolors. After praising them, he asserts that Dehner has helped Puerto Ricans experience and understand the pictorial medium. He also states that in Puerto Rico, government employees in charge of public education fail to provide sufficient encouragement and support in the realm of the arts. In his text “Maestría y picardía” [Mastery and Mischief,] painter Juan A. Rosado asserts that Dehner’s watercolors “have soul.” In the essay “Color and Light,” artist Rafael D. Palacios maintains that what distinguishes Dehner’s work is his use of color, light, and movement. From another perspective, poet René Golman Trujillo states in his text “Vigor y delicadeza” [Force and Finesse] that Dehner is a modern artist who makes use of the watercolor medium to represent tropical and sea landscapes as well as urban scenes. “A Jolly Aesthetic,” written by musician Augusto Rodríguez, argues that Dehner’s representation of reality is idealized; he states that the fact that Dehner is a member of the faculty at the Universidad de Puerto Rico (UPR) heightens the prestige of that institution. Lastly, in “Vida y transparencia” [Life and Transparency,] poet and writer José S. Alegría claims that Dehner, a North American artist, has gained prestige in Puerto Rico and beyond thanks to his intense and fruitful work as well as his great talent.
Before being included in the December 1937 issue of Art in Review, these six reviews were published in the Puerto Rican press: Antonio Colorado, “Dominio de la técnica y multiciplicidad de estilos,” El Imparcial, November 21, 1937; Juan A. Rosado, “Maestría y picardía,” El Mundo, November 29, 1937; Rafael D. Palacios, “Color and Light,” La Democracia, November 17, 1937; René Goldman Trujillo, “Vigor y delicadeza,” El Mundo, November 23, 1937; José S. Alegría, “Vida y transparencia,” Puerto Rico Ilustrado, November 9, 1937.
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); “Art Exhibitions in the University of Puerto Rico 1929–1938” (doc. No. 824716), and “Exhibition of the Art of Walt Dehner, Catalogue” (doc. No. 823274).
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).