‘Parallel Currents’ Showcases a Poet’s Collection of Latin American Art

BY Mike Melia  September 8, 2010 at 2:52 PM EDT

Ricardo Pau-Llosa

Entering Ricardo Pau-Llosa’s home in Miami, visitors feel they’ve stepped into an art museum. From kitchen to high-ceilinged study, nearly every inch of the place is covered with works by contemporary of Latin American artists from Venezuela, Peru, Chile, Cuba, Haiti, Mexico, Argentina and the Caribbean.

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The NewsHour first visited Pau-Llosa’s home in 2008 to profile him as part of our Poetry Series. Today, Ricardo’s vast collection is on display for all to see at the Snite Museum of Art at the University of Notre Dame.

“I can’t conceive of my life without the art no more than not being a writer and a poet,” Pau-Llosa said in a recent phone interview. “I find walls have a destiny, and the destiny of a wall is to have art on it.”

“In Miami, especially, I was able to witness and be a part of the emerging Latin American art scene which started to come together there in the very late ’60s and through the ’70s and ’80s,” he said. “At first, it was sparked by Cuban exile artists who had left communist Cuba and come to Miami and were getting their lives and careers back on track.”

Pau-Llosa, who’s been an art critic for more than 30 years, is a Cuban exile. His family fled the country in 1960, first landing in Chicago and then settling in Florida. As his interest grew, his collection expanded from exclusively Cuban works to a broad range of artists across Latin America.

Julio Rosado del Valle’s work speaks to the abstract expressionist movement in the United States, while the sculptures of Agustin Cardenas and Maria Brito demonstrate modern influences coming from Cuba.

“Latin America is part of modernism, but it has its own quirks,” Pau-Llosa said. “If nothing else I hope when visitors…come away with that notion of not just a diverse group of artists, but a whole series of traditions that define a different way of creating modern art.”

“Parallel Currents: Highlights of the Ricardo Pau-Llosa Collection of Latin American Art” is at the University of Notre Dame’s Snite Museum of Art though November 14.