October 4, 2018 500 AM
MARFA, EL PASO – Who knew that Marfa’s own Lineaus Hooper Lorette, mild mannered CPA, impassioned political activist, and former medicine ball maker, has an important collection of over one hundred works on paper by turn of the century Mexican artist and printmaker Jose Guadalupe Posada? Lorette’s collection of broadsheets forms the core of an upcoming exhibition at the El Paso Museum of Art, October 12th through January 20th, 2019, After Posada: Revolution.
Posada, with an established reputation as master engraver and etcher, moved from Guanajuato to Mexico City, where he worked exclusively for the publisher Antonio Vanegas Arroyo. Here his work gained notoriety as his remarkable speed carving his images into either wood or zinc plates reached an appreciative and eager audience. His irreverent, satirical comments on the political and social moments of each day widely circulated. The subjects were topical to the politics and events, heavily satirized through the lens of Posada, however the news could be true or sensational, images could be illustrations for poems, songs, crimes or silliness. Included are several of Posada’s much-loved calaveras (skulls) engaging in all manner of activities from the macabre to religious. These broadsheets printed on newsprint and never meant to be anything other than a throwaway daily are a treat to view as well as historic documents of fomenting political strife and commentary of the state of humankind.
Posada’s reputation gained additional attention from a student at the art school next to his studio, Diego Rivera, who was influenced by Posada’s commitment to the workers and common people who could afford the single centavo cost, and whose attention to politics and powerful people was not lost on the young student. Rivera’s regard for Posada continued throughout his life and brought many to appreciate Posada’s acute political courage.
Lorette said he discovered and acquired his first Posada broadside at an online auction house site that listed the unsold work from a recent auction. The broadside turned out to be one of Posada’s most famous La Calaveras de Don Quijote.
The groundwork for appreciating art was laid by Lorette’s mother, an art teacher who instilled in young Lineaus that Diego Rivera was the greatest artist. The art of Mexico, more widely available for working class viewers, the attention to the workers and regard for their labor, the murals that refused to be hidden away in private collections, she believed, was a far better ideal than the elitist collectors looking to European artists to establish their collections to be viewed by the few in the United States. The lessons were not lost on Lorette, who read widely to educate himself on art and also came to highly regard the work of Diego Rivera, and thus was exposed to the importance of Posada’s work by references while pursuing his passion for Diego. He acted on that knowledge and launched the beginning of this important collection.
Posada’s most widely known images of Calaveras travel the gamut of scenarios and commentary, and although Lorette narrowed his collection to strictly these subjects, they still cover varied territory. Yes, there’s the widely known political and revolutionary satire, however there’s also documents of very bad behavior as in The Devil Made Me Do It, which chronicle horrendous things people did and a person telling the police, “The Devil made me do it”, showing the devil’s hands guiding the person slitting someone’s throat or various other unbecoming events. Los 41 Maricones (The 41 Queers) chronicles a police raid on a society party where men were dancing with men dressed as women and a scandal ensued. The partygoers were arrested, sent to jail and treated miserably, however because the participants were all from the upper echelons of society, their names were never published. Some say Posada’s image was the beginning of openly speaking of homosexuality in Mexico, and yet for some, 41 has become a fated and avoided number.
It was Lorette’s passion for art that Dr. Kate Green, El Paso Museum of Art curator of After Posada: Revolution first noticed while she worked in Marfa. Dr. Green took the opportunity to explore Lorette’s collection, this singular individual who stood out as one of the noticeable people who make up “the matrix of Marfa”, and the fruits of both of their labors she now brings to the El Paso Museum.
Most important universities and museums from Harvard to the Museum of Modern Art have works by Posada in their collections, however the work is seldom on display, which makes this rare opportunity to see the original works of Posada just that much more valuable. The exhibition includes over one hundred broadsides printed by Posada during his lifetime, as well as photographs of the Mexican Revolution by a contemporary of Posada, Agustin Victor Casasola. Also included in the exhibition are commissioned works by two contemporary artists, Andrea Bowers of Los Angeles, Californa, who created a large scale print in homage to Posada, and addresses current issues of the U.S./Mexico border, and Cruz Ortiz of San Antonio, Texas who has produced large scale collages, prints and includes a mobile printing press installation. Both artists were influenced by Posada and references current politics of our border with Mexico. The exhibition spans traditions, politics, activism and how history and inspiration combine and inform our present. The exhibition will be up during Dios de los Muertos, a perfect celebration.
Posada’s influence and images inspire and cast a long shadow that reaches from the Mexican Revolution, artists fighting Nazis and racism, Lucha Libre, The Grateful Dead, Day of the Dead, to the recent Pixar movie Coco.
• • •
An art talk from 5:30-6:30pm (mountain time) Thursday, October 11th with collector Lorette, artists Bowers and Ortiz, and curator Dr. Kate Green, immediately precedes the member preview from 6:30-8:30pm. The reception by Taft-Diaz, includes music by Los Callejeros, and features an in-gallery print performance by Cruz Ortiz.
The exhibit opens to the public on Friday, October 12 and is up through January 20, 2019. The museum is located at One Arts Festival Plaza in downtown El Paso. More information at www.epma.artand 915.212.0300.