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Met Showcases Spanish America


December 15, 2002
Copyright © 2002 THE STAR-LEDGER. All rights reserved. 

The art that evolved in Spanish America in the colonial era was unlike anything seen in the New England colonies. A great artistic legacy already existed in the Aztec, Mayan and Incan empires before the Spaniards arrived. The Catholic Church influenced the creation of sculpture and other religious objects from the Spanish-settled areas' natural resources of gold, silver and timber.

This 300-year era is the focus of a 70-object exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, "Arts of the Spanish Americas, 1550-1850," which continues through April 6. Staff curator Johanna Hecht focuses on the area between the Rio Grande and the Andes. The works, all from the museum's collections, are being shown together for the first time.

The works show how church and native influences gave rise to new imagery. A 17th-century Peruvian painting, "Virgin of the Rosary of Guapulo," depicts a Mary who looks more Andean than European. She is lavishly dressed in the Spanish way, but in Andean sacred array. A 16th-century Mexican mosaic depicts Saints Peter and Paul and the "Institution of the Eucharist," but this depiction is made of feathers.

Secular objects also have their place here. There is that delicate Mexican glazed ceramic ware known as Talavera, for which the city of Puebla is famous. Kero cups, the traditional ceremonial drinking vessels of the Andes are shown, as well as samples of silver objects and Andean textiles.

Spanish-language tours are offered. Call (212) 535-7710 for dates and times. The museum, at 82nd Street and Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, is open Fridays and Saturdays from 9:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Suggested admission is $12; $7 for seniors and students.

Adios, exhibits Three Hispanic-themed exhibitions at the Newark Museum will close on Dec. 29.

"The Sport of Life and Death: The Mesoamerican Ballgame" has more than 2,000 years of sport-related objects dating back to the Olmec and Aztec civilizations. "Border Xicanography" is a multi-media exhibit by California artist Armando Rascon that explores the experiences of Mexican immigrants.

"Santos de Palo" displays the intricately hand-carved wooden saints of Puerto Rico. The Newark Museum is at 49 Washington St. Donations are welcome; Wednesday to Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.; (973) 596-6550.

'Nuyorican Dreams' "Nuyorican Dreams," a documentary about a struggling Puerto Rican family in the Bronx, will be screened Monday at 10 a.m. in the auditorium of the Newark Public Library, 5 Washington St. Free. Call (973) 733-3610.

Gaudi exhibit The work of Barcelona architect Antonio Gaudi, best known for his design of La Sagrada church, is documented by seven Spanish photographers in an exhibit open through Jan. 28 at the City University of New York. The photographers spent years photographing buildings by Gaudi (1852-1926), who is still the major influence on Spanish architecture. Tuesdays through Fridays, noon to 6 p.m., at the Graduate Center of CUNY, 365 Fifth Ave. Free. Call (212) 661-6011.

Uruguayan comedy A Uruguayan comedy that had a brief, successful run at Repertorio Espanol last summer rejoins the rep for 11 performances today at 3 p.m. through Jan. 30. "Locos de Contento (Happily Mad)" by Jacobo Langsner stars Uruguayan actors Nelson Landrieu and Beatriz Cordoba as a diplomat and his wife, dying to be appointed to London or Paris, with hilarious consequences. Tickets are $25 to $40. The theater is at 138 E. 27th St., New York; (212) 889- 2850.

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