For about 40 yrs, Bronx-based mostly John Ahearn and Rigoberto Torres have represented the Bronx internationally by way of their iconic figurative sculptures made by lifetime-casting people in the local community. By means of April 30, 2023, The Bronx Museum of the Arts will existing Swagger and Tenderness: The South Bronx Portraits by John Ahearn and Rigoberto Torres, a study exhibition foregrounding the men and women viewed in these sculptural portraits, combining the artists’ greatest-recognized works with not often witnessed pieces along with by no means-just before-noticed archival photos and ephemera. This is the 1st exhibition to put equivalent pounds on the presentation of each artists, and the first important study of their work given that 1991 (Present-day Arts Museum, Houston), reuniting 65 of these artworks in the Bronx with the pretty persons they depict. Swagger and Tenderness is co-organized by independent curator Amy Rosenblum-Martín and literary activist Ron Kavanaugh, together with exhibition advisors from the community.
Doing work in communities traditionally marginalized by the artworld, John Ahearn and Rigoberto Torres intentionally collaborated with their neighbors, a method that resulted in dignified representations of persons who art museums have long invisibilized or misrepresented. These depictions of their mates or folks they encountered on the avenue have been subsequently exhibited in public on the very very same Bronx streets––decorating apartment developing facades, area places of work, and industrial storefronts––as effectively as hung in people’s households in the Bronx.
In contrast to conventional shows of their work in white cube galleries, Swagger and Tenderness can take a radically diverse approach to exhibition design and viewer enjoyment. Developed in collaboration with architect Darío Nuñez-Ameni (Acconci Studio) and Bronx-centered architect Jorge Plazas (Sir David Adjaye’s collaborator), the Museum galleries will be transformed into exquisite, cerulean blue areas influenced by neoclassical aspects found in Bronx architecture and interior style. Playfully combining exterior and inside references, the architects create an immersive ecosystem with postmodern twists that celebrate a distinctly Bronx aesthetic. The curators envision this pleasurable dreamscape representing luxurious, dignity, relieve, relaxation, and abundance as a welcoming ability supply for nearby guests in these moments of greater systemic violence toward Black and Brown communities. Seating regions with tables set up with intergenerational nearby games, like skelzies and dominoes, will invite the community to relax and play as portion of the exhibition. The 100-website page catalog will contain new interviews with the artists and Bronx-primarily based portrait sitters, poetry by Bronx authors, illustrated curatorial essays, and a graphic novel written by Ron Kavanaugh and illustrated by Sole Rebel, equally Bronx natives. A collection of group-concentrated activities will get put all through the period of the exhibition, like an opening reception with Bronx foods distributors, panel discussion, double dutch competitiveness, salsa dance party, e book dialogue with Literary Liberty Job, and repeated curators’ tours for the general public.
Due to the fact 1979, right after to start with conference at Trend MODA—the legendary South Bronx storefront cultural heart started in 1978––Ahearn and Torres have designed casts from resident-products in the Bronx. At the time of their meeting, seventeen-12 months-old Torres was doing the job at his uncle’s statuary factory in the Bronx, the borough in which the Puerto Rican artist was elevated from a youthful age, when Ahearn, awhite gentleman from upstate New York, aimed to generate the believe in of the persons in the Bronx to get started a group-experiencing artwork follow there. On forming what would turn out to be a daily life-very long collaboration, Torres advised they broaden their apply to distinct Bronx neighborhoods the place he lived. This led to the start out of local community casting workshops on the sidewalks of the South Bronx, and in between 1981 and 1985 resulted in the development of several portraits, community projects, and a number of everlasting sculptural reliefs in the neighborhood, including We Are Family members (1981-82), Lifestyle on Dawson Road (1982-83), Back again to School (1985), and Double Dutch (1982)––a canonical function honoring four women leaping double dutch. Drawing inspiration from these personal collaborations with workshop contributors, both artists have remained deeply committed to stewarding treatment and collaboration with their Bronx neighbors.
This survey exhibition will function 65 portraits from the Bronx Museum as nicely as other community and private collections. In addition, functions from the artists’ collections will be presented publicly for the to start with time, jointly with seldom noticed Polaroids of South Bronx people portrayed in the sculptures. That includes their neighbors performing every day things to do, a lot of portraits depict men and women embracing, exemplified by Ahearn’s Maria and Her Mother (1987) and Janelle and Audrey (1983), two sisters with their arms held firmly close to one an additional in statuesque togetherness and nearby heroes illustrated by Torres’s Daze (1998), a portrait of the renowned avenue artist Chris “Daze” Ellis, and Ruth Fernández (1991), a monument to the late singer-politician who remains a movie star in the Puerto Rican community.
Government Director Klaudio Rodriguez feedback: “The history of John Ahearn and Rigoberto Torres’s practice mirrors that of The Bronx Museum, which was launched in the early 1970s at a time when New York Metropolis was in crisis. As a cultural establishment focused to social justice, we want to dispel the myth that museums are only for selected people today. Ahearn and Torres replicate our core mission by means of their a long time-extensive observe that has championed our nearby heroes.”