Diego Rivera’s works, including “Cabeza de Indio,” were influential in the Mexican Modernism movement. courtesy Gilcrease Museum

Gilcrease After Hours celebrates Mexican Modernism

For Hispanic Heritage Month, the Gilcrease Museum celebrates with Mexican food, dance and art.

On Friday, Sept. 27, Gilcrease hosted their monthly after hours event, this month’s titled Mexican Modernism. This event featured Mexican music, traditional dance and art both to view and to create as well as delicious food and drinks. The night highlighted the opening of the museum’s new exhibit, “Mexican Modernism: Revolution and Reckoning,” which will be on display until August 2020.

Gilcrease After Hours included free tamales and churros for all, as well as an open bar featuring Mexican beer and margaritas. Activity stations included creating your own papel picado, where guests of all ages were invited to participate. Papel picado is a type of Mexican folk art made out of colored tissue paper that is hung decoratively, and it was present throughout the Gilcrease.

Traditional Mexican dances and songs were performed and admired throughout the night by Tulsans and their families. One man performed by singing corridos, a popular traditional form of Mexican ballad poetry. The following act sang upbeat songs made for dancing until the night ended.

The exhibit featured famous artists such as Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco and Rufino Tamayo. A highlight of this exhibit is the fully bilingual display, both in the presentation of the art as well as the background of the exhibit itself.

Some especially impactful pieces included “El Volcán” by Raúl Anguiano and “Figura” by Mariano Paredes. “El Volcán” tells the tale of two star-crossed Mexica lovers. Two volcanoes erupt simultaneously in this grey-toned landscape, representing the undying love of an ill-fated warrior and his princess.

“Figura” evokes deep emotion from the viewer in the solemn, soft expression of a woman looking up through the trees and into the sky above. The intriguing part of this piece is the mystery that exists on its opposing side, also of a woman with a similar disposition, but not shown to the viewer. The interpretation explains the back side of the piece as an old woman holding a lifeless child, with a saddening background of a burning town in chaos. This back side has been only partially carved and only realized to be an unfinished piece upon the creation of this exhibit. The limited knowledge the viewer has of the back of this piece as well as the unique emotions it evokes make for a thought-provoking experience.

The period of Modernism in art existed from the early twentieth century until 1945. Modernism was present during this period all over the world, with hispanic artists especially influential in the movement. Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera and even Pablo Picasso helped lead Modernism through the first half of the twentieth century. Diego Rivera’s pieces can be seen throughout the museum, with multiple sketches of his on display in this exhibit.

This event was one of the many across the Tulsa area to celebrate Hispanic Heritage month. Since 1988, Hispanic Heritage Month has been celebrated from Sept. 15 through Oct. 15 across the United States. The 30-day event commemorates Hispanic contributions to the United States, as well as hispanic culture all over the country. The Mexican Modernism exhibit at the Gilcrease museum is a great way to experience and celebrate hispanic heritage during this month in Tulsa.

Post Author: Skylar Fuser