On February 19, the El Paso Museum of Art (EPMA) will temporarily close the Kress European Collection Galleries to undertake the first major reinstallation since the Museum opened its doors nearly 20 years ago in its current downtown location. All three galleries, measuring over 3,200 square feet, will undergo significant renovations before presenting the works in new thematic installations that will open to the public on May 3.
Originally gifted by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation in 1961, EPMA’s Kress Collection encompasses 59 Italian, Spanish, Dutch, Flemish, and French works that span more than five centuries from a thirteenth-century Madonna and Child painted on a gold wood panel to eighteenth-century Italian pastel portraits. Many are attributed to the most significant names in the history of art, including Sandro Botticelli, Lorenzo Lotto, Artemisia Gentileschi, Jusepe de Ribera, Anthony van Dyck, and Canaletto. The newly installed galleries will display the extraordinary Kress gift alongside works from EPMA’s permanent collection according to theme and chronology, allowing visitors for the first time to trace the evolution of iconic subjects like the Madonna and Child, portrait, and landscape. New, accompanying scholarship will offer fresh insight into the remarkable continuity and period-specific innovations that defined these popular subjects for centuries across Europe. The addition of new focus walls will allow the museum to showcase the entire scope of EPMA’s collection. One wall will feature a built-in niche which will highlight both sides of an Italian altarpiece dating from the 1460s by the Sienese artist Sano di Pietro. Specially selected wall coverings will further highlight the often forgotten domestic function of works large and small, including Botticelli’s Madonna and Child.
The museum director, Dr. Victoria Ramirez, shares the significance of this project: “EPMA is one of only 18 Kress Regional Galleries nationwide to receive a ‘core collection’ of European masterworks. Since its unveiling in 1961, our collection continues to draw praise for its incomparable quality. The unprecedented opportunity to reinstall the collection according to its thematic strengths will provide visitors a fresh perspective on one of the Southwest’s most significant collections of European art.”
“EPMA’s Kress Collection reflects the history of El Paso. From 1929 to 1961, when Kress was researching locations to donate his collection, gifts were distributed according to an economic yardstick based on the success of the community’s Kress Five and Dime store. The El Paso ‘superstore’ on San Jacinto Plaza reportedly led the nation in sales from 1938 onwards, ensuring the city a remarkable collection.” The project is made possible through generous funding from the City of El Paso’s 2012 Quality of Life Bonds, the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, and the EPMA Foundation.
Image: Sano di Pietro, Italian (Sienese), 1405–1481, Madonna and Child with Saint John the Baptist, Saint Bartholomew, and Four Angels, about 1460s–70s, tempera and gold on panel, 25 x 18 inches (63.5 x 45.7 cm). Gift of the Samuel H. Kress Foundation.
For the first time in Texas, the El Paso Museum of Art (EPMA) presents the Papel Chicano Dos: Works on Paper from the Collection of Cheech Marin exhibit that will be on view from February 16 through June 17.
The exhibition features 65 works from the esteemed private collection of actor, comedian, and philanthropist Cheech Marin. It explores Chicano identity from the Chicano Revolution to the present day. As a collector, Marin is dedicated to bringing Chicano art to the forefront of the American art scene.
Using pastels, watercolors, acrylic and spray paint, each of the artists explore universal themes of identity, political and social revolution and the experience of living between and within many cultures. The exhibition includes large-scale works by seminal Chicano artists like Frank Romero, Carlos Almaraz, Glugio “Gronk” Nicandro, and Benito Huerta and prominently features Chicana artists such as Diane Gamboa, Sonia Romero, and Sonia Fe. Also included in Marin’s collection are works by local artist and teacher Gaspar Enriquez, whose large-scale installation, Color Harmony en la Esquina, has found its home in EPMA’s Grand Lobby since 2013.
“In many ways, Cheech Marin’s collection of Chicano art is at home in El Paso. It features artists who embrace a multicultural heritage and artistically reinvigorate, critique, and transform traditions familiar to us along the US-Mexico border,” said exhibition curator Kevin Burns.
Papel Chicano Dos will be supplemented by various community and educational programs that are free and open to the public.
• Saturday, March 3: Papel Chicano Celebration, Noon to 4 p.m. Art-making activities, food trucks, a display of classic low-rider cars, and live music and vinyl sessions by Mother of Pearl Vinyl.
• Saturday, March 31: Baikas!, 12 – 4 p.m., join local Chicano artist and muralist Jesus “Cimi” Alvarado for a guided bicycle tour of El Segundo Barrio’s murals. The tour begins and ends at EPMA; bring a bicycle and water. RSVP for the mural tour at EPMArsvp@elpasotexas.gov or 915-212-3068.
Funding for Papel Chicano Dos is provided by lead sponsor CommUNITY en Acción.
“CommUNITY en Acción is comprised of community business and civic leaders who strive to make a positive change for our community by promoting the culture, education, and economic well-being of all our Latino Community. Once again, we are proud to bring Mr. Marin’s collection to El Paso and be the lead sponsor for this exhibition.” - J. Xavier Bañales, Chair, CommUNITY en Acción
Funding for Papel Chicano Dos is provided by lead sponsor CommUNITY en Acción. Thank you to CEA and Castro Enterprises, Inc., Bravo Cadillac, Hunt Companies, The Hospitals of Providence, Sierra Machinery, and WestStar Bank for your generous support.
The El Paso Museum of Art (EPMA) invites the public to the inaugural presentation of a new groundbreaking exhibition, Ethics, Excess, Extinction that opens Friday, January 26. The exhibit of contemporary art speaks in creative and compelling ways of the reality of endangered animals. The exhibition explores ways humans affect the animal world through themes ranging from poaching to pollution to consumerism. At a time when science teaches us more than ever about the interconnectedness of the global environment, these artists remind residents of our intimate connections with animals, as well as our complicity in their suffering. “Notably, while Ethics approaches a sensitive issue, together the artworks in the exhibition weave a visually compelling tapestry encouraging us to rethink and engage with the problem in new ways,” said El Paso Museum of Art Senior Curator Dr. Patrick Shaw Cable.
The international array of artists includes several Americans such as Kiki Smith, Chris Jordan, and Esther Traugot, who variously used poetry, pathos, and sometimes the grotesque to evoke the plight of threatened species. The EPMA will enrich the Ethics, Excess, Extinction exhibition through several educational programs and available merchandise in the museum store. The store will offer a book featuring the work of major artist Kiki Smith, earth-friendly solar lights by Solight Designs, and postcards.
On February 1, the EPMA will host an Educator Evening inviting teachers to enhance their curriculum through workshops and tours of the exhibition. The EPMA’s special Family Day on April 14 will spotlight art by animals from the El Paso Zoo, created in conjunction with the Zoo’s Animal Enrichment Program.
Ethics, Excess, Extinction was organized by Art Works for Change and curated by Randy Jayne Rosenberg. Support was generously provided by the Texas Commission on the Arts. The exhibition is free and open to the public through May.