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Synopsis

Alberto Beltrán, a Mexican artist, writes to his friend, Puerto Rican printmaker Lorenzo Homar, to thank him for his earlier letter explaining the problems surrounding the IV Bienal de San Juan del Grabado Latinoamericano [4th San Juan Biennial of Latin American Prints], which had been scheduled for 1976. Beltrán expresses his thoughts on the state of the graphic arts in Latin America, and remarks that many artists seem to be concerned about producing work that “is consistent” with what galleries want and request. He goes on to say that Aníbal Rodríguez Vera—a member of the program for the promotion of traditional art at the Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña [ICP, Puerto Rican Cultural Institute]—had been in Mexico to attend the Congreso Mundial de Artesanías [World Handcrafts Conference]. Rodríguez Vera was enthusiastic about the chance to make contact with other Latin Americans. Beltrán asks Homar whether, in light of what had happened with the 4th Biennial, it was advisable to work with the ICP and, in closing, thanks Homar for sending some of his posters.

Annotations

 The IV Bienal de San Juan del Grabado Latinoamericano was cancelled by the Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña [ICP, Institute of Puerto Rican Culture] because of the protests initiated by the artists who were against using funds provided for celebration of the Bicentennial of U.S. Independence. However, Lorenzo Homar had no desire for the IV Bienal to be cancelled. According to him, it would be much more effective if the international press informs the world that U.S. independence was being celebrated in a U.S. colony, the island of Puerto Rico. Indeed, many artists criticized Homar for having started the protest. 

In 1958, Puerto Rican printmaker Lorenzo Homar went to Mexico City with the delegation of Puerto Rican artists who took part in the I Bienal Interamericana de Pintura y Grabado [1st Inter-American Biennial of Painting and Prints]. In Mexico City they were feted by the Taller de Gráfica Popular [People’s Print Workshop] (TGP). This was where Homar met Leopoldo Méndez, Mariana Yampolsky, Arturo García Bustos, and Beltrán himself, among others. Following this trip, Homar developed a close friendship with Beltrán (1923–2002). Homar’s archives contain a wealth of correspondence between the two men. Beltrán, who was devoted to the nationalist cause, joined the TGP in 1944. He was awarded first prize in the print category at the Primera Bienal Interamericana de Pintura y Grabado [First Inter-American Biennial of Painting and Prints]. Beltrán was the publisher of two newspapers that featured cartoons, Ahí va el golpe [Be careful!] and El Coyote Emplumado [The Feathered Coyote] as well as deputy director for graphics at the newspaper El Día. Lorenzo Homar (San Juan, 1913–2004) was a printmaker, poster artist, calligrapher, book illustrator, set and clothing designer, and mentor to a whole generation of Puerto Rican printmakers. From 1952 to 1957, he was the director of the Taller de Gráfica [Graphics Workshop] at the División de Educación de la Comunidad (DIVEDCO). In 1955, he organized the Taller de Gráfica at the Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña (ICP), where he remained until 1973. Later, he worked in his own studio, where he experimented with and perfected the silkscreen technique. 
Researcher
Flavia Marichal Lugo
Team
Museo de Historia, Antropología y Arte, Universidad de Puerto Rico, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Credit
Courtesy of the private archives of Laura and Susan Homar Dämm, San Juan Puerto Rico, PR