This piece from artist Juan Downey's Continental Drift series is among the works on display in "Juan Downey: The Invisible Architect" at the Bronx Museum of the Arts.The exhibit “Juan Downey: The Invisible Architect” is an eclectic assemblage of drawings, videos and installations exploring the life and work of a pioneering video artist.
Downey, a trained architect turned artist, died in 1993 at his home in Manhattan.
This exhibit at the Bronx Museum of the Arts marks the first U.S. retrospective of the Chilean artist’s work which spanned from the 1970s to the 1990s.
“Downey revolutionized the field of video art and pioneered an art form that has had continued relevance for contemporary artists working today,” said museum director Holly Block.
The exhibit also features paintings, photographic installations and the artist’s notebooks, which are on view for the first time.
Although not chronological, the exhibit follows Downey’s preoccupation with politics, art history, Latin American identity, western culture and his own identity.
Downey studied printmaking in Europe but started experimenting with different art forms on his return to the U.S. in the mid 1960s.
“He was very influenced by people he met in Paris, by the kinetic artists who were working with machines,” said guest curator Valerie Smith, adding that his early work included detailed architectural drawings of machines.
Some of Downey’s best known works are also on display including “Video Trans Americas” which features footage of the indigenous peoples he met on his travels through North and South America. The footage is complemented by several of the artist’s “meditation drawings.”
“He meditated everyday,” said his widow, Marilys Downey, at a special viewing at the museum last week. “He would come out of a meditation and he would be in that grey zone, and he would do a drawing. He did one everyday. We have hundreds of them.”
Other well-known pieces on display are “The Thinking Eye” and “About Cages,” a video installation that includes live birds.
“Juan Downey: The Invisible Architect” runs through May 20 at the Bronx Museum of the Arts, 1040 Grand Concourse. For more information, visit bronxmuseum.org.
n 24 Hour Theatre Festival
The Poor Mouth Theatre Company’s annual 24 Hour Theatre Festival is back.
Six writers will meet on Friday, Feb. 25th and be assigned a topic and a certain number of actors. Writers then have 24 hours to write, rehearse and produce a 10-minute play to be performed the next night.
The unpredictable and comical results come to the stage at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 26 at An Beal Bocht Café, 445 W. 238th St. in Riverdale. For more information, call (914) 250-1422.