|Should you go?
|Best thing I saw or learned
|Wanda Raimundi-Ortiz in the guise of a fierce warrior queen, with over-the-top makeup and headdress.
Like many instutions of higher learning around the City, Hostos Community College has a small art space where they periodically mount public exhibitions.
Hostos’s small gallery resides on the ground floor of Building C, just past security, to the left of the door to the swimming pool. The small space boasts good lighting, high ceilings and large windows looking out onto the Grand Concourse.
That said, the space feels somewhat odd. It has a spiral staircase leading up to what looks like a small lofted office area, and a tiny kitchenette tucked away. It doesn’t feel like it was born to be an art gallery, but at the same time I can’t puzzle out what it might have been previously. The folding tables leftover from some event didn’t add to the ambiance, but did fill an empty spot in mid-room.
Currently the gallery features “Las Reinas,” an installation by Wanda Raimundi-Ortiz, who works mainly as a performance artist.
Portarying performance art in a gallery always presents challenges. The show consists of costumes and some terrific photographic self portraits of Ms. Raimundi-Ortiz in character as an array of royal types. In succession, she plays the warrior princess, the monarch fallen on hard times, the dime store seductress. She describes these characters as “imagined royal archetypes anchored in personal traumas.” And she constructed the costumes out of bubble wrap and other humble craft store materials.
The show also features the costume from a longer performance piece called Pietá, in which Ms. Raimundi-Ortiz again dresses regally, this time to embody a sorrowing mother. She cradles a succession of people in her arms, with music from a Gospel choir. A brief video clip from that piece (performed in May at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery), was surprisingly moving.
Should you go? Perhaps. The Hostos Center for the Arts and Culture is much easier to get to than Lehman College. 149th Street Grand Concourse is just one or two subway stops across the river from Manhattan. But it keeps limited opening hours, and its very small space puts a significant constraint on what it can show.
And yet Wanda Raimundi-Ortiz surprised me. I was glad to learn about her. And that hopefully speaks well for other things the Hostos Center’s managers program in the space. In the end, I would not recommend making a special trip to the Hostos art gallery. However, if you’re planning a tour of the Grand Concourse, or going to the relatively nearby Bronx Museum of the Arts, check Hostos’s schedule. It might be worth a detour.
|450 Grand Concourse, the Bronx