San Antonio Express News / Arts & Culture

UTSA Project a Latino Art Milestone

Representing a decade of blood, sweat and ink, “Veinticinco” features fine-art prints by 25 prominent Latino artists.

The exhibition, featuring work by such artists as Ricky Armendariz, Richard Duardo, Leticia Huerta, Luis Jiménez, César Martínez, Malaquías Montoya and Anita Valencia, is the result of a long-running print project at the University of Texas at San Antonio. It just opened at UTSA’s Downtown Art Gallery.

As master printer Neal Cox, who worked on the majority of the project, puts it: “This suite of prints, no doubt, will become a collection for the ages.”

Four of the artists who participated in the project — Jiménez, Duardo, Sam Coronado and José Guadalupe Guadiana — are no longer alive. The exhibition is dedicated to their memories.

“‘Veinticinco,’” said UTSA President Ricardo Romo, “treats viewers to an exploration of important Latino themes related to labor, immigration, gender and poverty. In addition, several of the works allow us a glimpse into significant traditions and cultural values in our society.”

Romo co-curated the exhibition with UTSA professor Kent Rush and UTSA Art Collection curator Arturo Infante Almeida.

UTSA has a long history in printmaking. When Rush arrived on campus in 1982, he and professor Dennis Olsen created an unofficial program called Collaborative Editions, in which visiting artists created a print with art faculty and students.

 When Romo — an avid print collector with his wife Harriett — later came to UTSA, Rush approached him about a print project focusing on Latino artists. Through a collaboration between the President’s Office and the Art Department, what would become “Veinticinco” was born.

Each of the three architects of the print project recruited participants, ranging from up-and-coming artists to well-established art stars.

“We all came at it from different perspectives,” Rush said. “The goal was to make a kind of cross-section of Latino art. We were not really trying to make a who’s-who of Latino artists.

“We have had artists who were veteran printmakers and artists who had never made a print, so it was an interesting process,” he added. “In the educational aspects and in terms of the product — these wonderful prints that we now have — the project has been incredibly successful.”

The artists worked in the UTSA Printmaking Studio, collaborating with master printer Cox and, later, with master printer Steven Carter. (Both have accepted teaching positions at other universities.)