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Artist Rafael Colon Morales criticizes the selections for the exhibition of recent acquisitions of El Museo del Barrio for lacking consistent coherent criteria. He observes that there are few high-quality works on display, and therefore he does not regard the exhibition as a fair example of the evolution of Puerto Rican contemporary art. He takes issue with the museum’s reliance on donations by collectors, and suggests that El Museo del Barrio buy works directly from artists. He further criticizes the museum for failing to include sufficient examples of works by Puerto Rican artists living in New York City. At the same time, Colon Morales concedes that the museum has chosen a difficult path by collecting Puerto Rican art because it is not well documented or often exhibited, and therefore the art production exists in a critical void. He discusses the works by Domingo Garcia and Jorge Soto as two of the few gems in the collection.
Founded in 1969, El Museo del Barrio was the first Puerto Rican museum established in New York City. In the 1990s, the mission of El Museo del Barrio was revised to present and preserve the art and culture of Puerto Ricans, and all Latin Americans in the United States. The 1978 catalogue of recent acquisitions was the first attempt by El Museo del Barrio to showcase its collection of contemporary art. The artists in the exhibition were: John Balossi, Eli Barreto, Jose Caraballo, Harry Cosme, Jesse Fernandez, Domingo Garcia, Gilberto Hernandez, Epifanio Irizarry, Claudio Juarez, Carlos Osorio, Samuel Quiñones, Carlos Raquel Rivera, Felix Rodriguez Baez, Radames Santos, Jorge Soto, Carmelo Sobrino, Nitza Tufiño, Rafael Tufiño, and Pedro Villarini. Rafael Colon Morales (b. 1941) grew up in Puerto Rico and studied in the Island and Spain before moving to New York City in the 1970s. Associated with the artist collective, Taller Boricua, Colon Morales worked as an arts educator and guest curator for several museums and galleries, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and El Museo del Barrio.