If there was one art exhibition where you'd think LACMA would be sure to mount information in Spanish, it would be "The Arts in Latin America, 1492-1820" that opened Sunday. Biggest show of the year, effusively praised, and might have strong appeal to the immigrants from Latin America who don't patronize LACMA's expensive galleries very much. And it might even draw tourists. Well, you'd be wrong. Daniel Hernandez blogs:
It is an impressive show, with paintings, sculpture, and decorative arts like insanely detailed silver-embossed chocolate mugs and spice boxes.
Trouble is, the information on such pieces and how they were made is unavailable to about half of L.A. None of the exhibition information panels are presented bilingually, in Spanish, the language that essentially binds most of the show together as a historical and aesthetic document. This is a serious error on the part of the curators and the institutions involved, particularly LACMA, L.A.'s county museum.
I overheard several the reporters from the Spanish media grumbling over the lack of Spanish panels in the show during the press preview last week....LACMA's Latin American art curator Ilona Katzew told La Opinión's Antonio Mejías-Rentas, in an unsatisfactory excuse, that not presenting the show in Spanish was "a question of space, fundamentally."
Hmm. Space never seems to be an issue at the museums at San Diego's Balboa Park and in La Jolla, where the major institutions seem to make it a point -- given their positioning in a binational urban zone with Tijuana -- to present all their shows in English and Spanish. And in Mexico, going to museums is practically a routine of daily life, up and down the classes. Why can't immigrants be encouraged to retain this tradition?
Hernandez says LACMA alone isn't to blame: "Fundación Televisa provided a large chunk of funding for this particular show: Where was the foresight?"