Juarez’s story is the stuff of New York art world legends

In 1981, Juarez was one of the first artists of Latinx descent to break into the NYC art scene during that pivotal era that changed the culture, alongside other young artists of color from that era who broke down barriers – and he continues to have a prominent career today.

Roberto Juarez: Crossing Five Decades

Works Created Between 1983 and 2023

On view February 28 through April 15

The C. Parker Gallery in Greenwich, Connecticut presents the new exhibition Roberto Juarez: Crossing Five Decades (Works Created Between 1983 and 2023), on view February 28 – April 15.

“This is the first time an exhibition chronicles five distinct eras of artmaking by Roberto Juarez,” says Tiffany Benincasa, the owner and curator of C. Parker Gallery. “We are honored to present this group of exquisite paintings, illuminating his position in the canon of art history in the New York art world, for our tenth anniversary season.”

The gallery is located at 409 Greenwich Avenue, near Manhattan (just a 40-minute train ride from Grand Central Terminal, where one of Juarez’s public commission murals majestically holds court in the Station Manager’s Office, pictured below).

New York Grand Central Terminal Public Commission

This selection of artworks represents the feeling of crossing through different eras of my work,” says Roberto Juarez.

“For me, it’s important that my love of painting comes through. I want the joy in my work to always be essential.”

“This new exhibition also points ahead, showing how change and growth are still where I’m at today,” adds Juarez.

Juarez’s artistic trajectory is the stuff of New York legends. In 1981, the East Village underground arts icon Ellen Stewart offered Juarez an artist studio in an abandoned garage owned by the La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club.

The space, on First Street between Bowery and Second Avenue, had no electricity and was offered to Juarez rent-free. Renowned costume designer Gabriel Berry lent Juarez an extension cord from her studio to his, to provide light and heating.

That same year, Juarez was showcased in the New York/New Wave group show curated by Diego Cortez, who united the downtown scene for this history-making exhibition.

Cortez selected 35 works by Juarez for the 1981 New York/New Wave show, granting him an entire wall across from a wall of works by Basquiat (some of these original 1981 works by Juarez have been selected for an exhibition during the Venice Biennale this year).

During the decades that followed, Juarez’s milestones include:  

A Guggenheim Fellowship in Painting . . . the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award . . . the Rome Prize Fellowship from the American Academy in Rome . . . one of his paintings was selected for the book jacket cover of the Whitney Biennale Catalog in 1987 . . . he was chosen for a public commission mural installation in Grand Central Station in 1997 (new.mta.info/agency/arts-design/collection/field-of-wild-flowers) . . . and several art in public places commissions, including Miami International Airport.

Works by Juarez are in the collections of major museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art (NY), Los Angeles County Museum of Art (CA), the Brooklyn Museum, El Museo del Barrio (NY), Perez Art Museum Miami, and the Denver Art Museum, among others.

Museums that have exhibited the work of Roberto Juarez include: Museum of Modern Art (NY); Whitney Museum of Art/Whitney Biennial (NY); Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LA); Brooklyn Museum; Peggy Guggenheim Collection (Venice); MoMA PS1 (NY); the China National Academy of Painting; Stamford Museum (CT); El Museo del Barrio (NY); McNay Art Museum (TX); Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art (CO); Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art (KS); Portland Museum of Art (ME); Center for the Fine Arts Miami; Fort Lauderdale Museum of Art; Austin Museum (TX); and Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami, among others.

Miami International Airport Public Commission

Juarez frequently employs painterly floral motifs, often inspired by the traditions of Hispanic and non-Western painting.

“Roberto Juarez is somebody I had long thought combined a sense of an engagement with the poetic, an engagement with the provocative,” said Edward J. Sullivan, Professor of Art History at NYU.

“A use of color which brings to mind not only images but emotions, in a way that is very convincing – also allowing us to enter into a certain subconscious emotional territory.”

“Roberto Juarez is somebody I had long thought combined a sense of an engagement with the poetic, an engagement with the provocative, a use of color which brings to mind not only images but emotions, in a way that is very convincing – also allowing us to enter into a certain subconscious emotional territory,” adds Sullivan.

Edward J. Sullivan curated one of Juarez’s solo museum exhibitions that included the artist’s Pater series (pictured below, one of the Pater works in the current gallery show).

Sullivan has worked for more than thirty years in the field of Latin American and Caribbean art, and has influenced many artists and curators.

The Pater works were produced over a number of years during which Juarez was dealing with the death of his father.

Read more about the artist and this series at the review by Clayton Kirking, former Chief of Art Information Resources for the New York Public Library – nadnowjournal.org/reviews/roberto-juarez-inspiration-and-process

Juarez’s mother was from Puerto Rico, and his father was from Mexico. He was born in 1952 in Chicago.

Juarez has a BFA from San Francisco Art Institute (1975), and Graduate Studies at the University of California at Los Angeles (1978). Read his full bio at this link.

“What I’m painting is often tropical looking, and yet sometimes created in the dead of winter in my studio in Canaan, NY where we can have mountains of snow every day.”

“I think part of this is responding to memory, to my experience of something colorful. The severity of the winter experience in my studio makes me enjoy colorful imagery even more,” adds Juarez.

The quotes above by Sullivan and Juarez and from this interview – robertojuarezstudio.com/roberto-juarez-interview-by-edward-sullivan.html.

Captured in Time

Juarez and his circle of artist friends were often captured in time by well-known photographers/artists of the era.

Pictured below are portraits of Juarez from the 1980s and 1990s by David SeidnerJack Pierson, and Bruce Weber.

When Juarez was recently invited to present his work in celebration of the 50th anniversary of Time & Space Limited, the not-for-profit arts organization serving the Hudson River Valley Region, he expressed his vision for artmaking and how it continues to evolve —

“The sanctuary I envision through my art is a place where unexpected things happen, where ancient stories intertwine with contemporary experiences, and where the audience can participate, almost dance, with the paintings,” says Juarez.

“My intention is to invite viewers to connect with the rich cultural tapestry of human history and the boundless possibilities of creativity.”

Also featured in the new exhibition are works from the artist’s VP era – paintings inspired by the Vesica Piscis, a symbol thought to bridge geometry and spirituality.

Used throughout history in various cultures and religions as a form of sacred geometry, Vesica Piscis shapes are objects of fascination due to their deep symbolism.

Painted in oil on wood, the artist places the circles in a diagonal line across the surface.

In these works, Juarez feels that the shapes created when his circles intersect symbolize to him the eye of God.

VP era works from the gallery show are pictured below.

About the Gallery

C. Parker Gallery is a full-service art gallery and consultancy celebrating its tenth year in Greenwich, Connecticut.

Representing an extensive collection of works by traditional and contemporary artists, the Gallery is a recipient of the Best of Greenwich Award and Best of the Gold Coast Award. The gallery’s inventory features more than 1,800 works from over 70 artists representing original paintings, prints, sculpture, and collectibles.


 

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