Pacificaribbean is a large-scale mural painted on four of the walls of the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art, designed and executed by artist Juan Alberto Negroni and guest curated by Emma Saperstein.
Pacificaribbean’s concept is inspired by Juan’s upbringing in the city of Bayamón near San Juan in Puerto Rico. His father worked at the Caribe-Hilton Hotel, a beautiful resort hotel that emulates the complex relationship between Puerto Rico’s people and the economic and social influence of Western tourism. As a child, Juan and his siblings would sneak into some of the amenities of the hotel they were prevented from accessing such as the private beach, the pool, and most memorable for Juan, the private gardens.
In Juan’s work, representations of the luscious local ecology of Puerto Rico capture a resilience of nature that beckons us to bravely encounter and embrace the unknown. For Juan, this work both hearkens to a nuanced nostalgia of the past and a longing to preserve the memories and experiences of our youth. For those of us who reside on the Central Coast of California, Pacificaribbean asks us to consider the safety, challenge, and longing of this moment and the memories of youth that connect us to each other and to our home.
Pacificaribbean invites us to celebrate and cultivate a relationship between our inner landscapes and the landscape around us and, even amidst time of separation and grief, find windows of hope. Juan has been intentional about the relationship between the mural and the trees and natural environment visible above the Museum, creating an unlikely and unexpected symbiosis between our community and his.
This project will be paired with a catalogue of commissioned essays, an interactive element inviting the public to explore their inner landscapes through “prompt” questions, a series of programming with the artist and the community, and a custom print designed by the artist.
January 21 at 6 PM: panel discussion with Juan Alberto Negroni, guest curator Emma Saperstein, Neal Breton from SLO County Arts, and Derek Johnson from the City of SLO. No pre-registration required. Event link will be posted to sloma.org.
About Juan Alberto Negroni
Since his arrival in the United States, artist Juan Alberto Negroni has often been asked where he comes from, why he moved to Dallas, and how Puerto Rico compares to Texas. Despite his willingness to explain Puerto Rico’s deep political, religious, and cultural history, he frequently finds there are certain topics words cannot properly describe. Through his artwork, Negroni has developed a visual language that mimics the multilayering of such answers and the idiosyncrasies of his homeland.
Juan Alberto Negroni possesses an MFA in Studio Arts from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX, an MA Ed in Art History and Museum Studies from Caribbean University, PR, and a BFA with a Major in Printmaking from Puerto Rico School of Fine Arts. He has had five solo shows, The Defect Effect, If it weren’t for my horse, Not About Beauty (Religion, Politics and other failures) all in San Juan, PR, Tiny Floral Show, (curated by Danielle Avram and Ryan Goolsby), in Dallas, TX, and A Midsummers Night’s Dream at 18.2208° N, 66.5901° W , Texas Woman’s University, Denton, TX.
Negroni has participated in multiple group shows such as Detroit: A Brooklyn Case Study, SUPERFRONT LA, Los Angeles CA 2010, Dialectic City , curated by Carla Acevedo-Yates (with Francis Alÿs, David Lamelas, among others), Retro at Caguas Museum of Art, Muestra Nacional de Arts , Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña, San Juan, PR, 2015 and 2018, Art in America, (Curated by Julie Torres) at The Satellite Show in Miami, FL, 2015 & Elizabeth Stone Harper Gallery, Harper Center for the Arts SC in 2016, Kinds of Monuments, (with Christian Boltanski, Luis Camnitzer, Cai-Guo-Qiang, Robert Morrison, Alberto Burri, amongst others), Zattere Cultural Flow Zone, Dorsoduro, Venice, IT, 2da Gran Bienal Tropical (curated by Pablo Leon de la Barra in Loiza, PR, Home & Visitor at Le Consortium, Dijon, FR, Topologies of Excess: A Survey of Contemporary Practices from Puerto Rico (curated by Emma Saperstein and Mariola Rosario), Harold J. Miossi Art Gallery, San Luis Obispo, CA, among many others.
His practice has been documented in printed press and magazines like, ArtPulse, El Nuevo Día and PATRON Magazine. Recipient of the Meadows Artistic Scholarship Award 2015 and the 2017 Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’art Dijon Residency Fellowship. His work is part of public and private art collections in Puerto Rico, United Kingdom, Argentina, United States, Canada, Australia, and Greece.
What was your experience and relationship with nature as a child?
What is your earliest positive memory with nature – a walk, a day at the beach, a hike?
What are some ways you notice the relationship between the mural and the ecology around it?
Exhibition banner image, slideshow, and sloma.org homepage images credit: James Lester Photography
Make your visit to the mural interactive with this customized Spotify playlist to complement Pacificaribbean!
Image credit: James Lester Photography