Bustling Jackson Heights is known for its garden apartments, ethnic eateries and parades. It’s a diverse community of immigrants where saris and samosas are as easily had as arepas. But something novel appeared on 85th Street during this summer’s swelter, inside a former street level office—a white walled, boutique art space.
The Y Gallery opened its glass doors on July 28 with a series of 10 watercolors by David Huaytalla Dionisio. The gallery is owned by local restaurateur Augusto Yayiko, owner of Pio Pio next door,and is operated by Maria Cecilia Jurado. Its mission is to engage the Latino community of Jackson Heights and to stimulate the process of decentralization of art galleries and institutions in New York.
The neighborhood was a natural choice. “There is a large Latin American population in Jackson Heights and no galleries.We want to introduce them to art,” Jurado explained, adding, “it is important for us to work in an area where not many art institutions are and where many of the neighbors don't go to Manhattan and Brooklyn often.”Thus, they opened with a Peruvian artist with whom the local Hispanic population can identify.
Dionisio, born in 1940 and self taught, shares in his work the concepts of the Indigenous Movement, led by Jose Sabogal and popular in Peru in the early 20th century. Sabogal’s work explores 20th century Peru from a native perspective as it entered a new age of modern industrialization.
Dionisio’s cartoonish illustrations are a reflection on the migration of a rural population into urban areas at the beginning of the last century. The theme he is most concerned with is transportation, which often serves as the link between two seemingly disparate worlds.Trains and cars appear with nostalgia.“Tren Macho 1,” “Tren Macho 2” and “Tren Macho 3,” depict a mighty train, billowing smoke, both as it pulls into an industrialized town and as it roars through a mountain pass, disrupting the serene setting.
“El Ultimo Paradero 1” and “El Ultimo Paradero 2” (loosely translated as the “final whereabouts”) focus on atrophying cars at the foothills of waning towns that tower in the background.The cars are sometimes named, or christened, as in “Picaflor Tarmeno” (a reference to Andean ancestry through music) and “Juro Volver” (“I will return”), as a way of communicating with their peers; possibly manifesting the thoughts, feelings and reflections of their owner.“Iglesia” (church) and “Puerta” suggest a history of Christianity's prominence both in its cultural reverberations and its former influence in the construction of these dying towns.These wonderfully illustrative and colorful renderings were moderately priced from about $500 $1,000, making them accessible for purchase by an art enthusiast or beginning collector.
Though the exhibition closed last week, Y Gallery will continue its mission with the opening of the next exhibition “Once Upon A Time,” featuring paintings by Peruvian artist Jorge Gonzales San Miguel. San Miguel’s work explores a bizarre fusion of celebrated children's characters of Western culture, such as Superman, Mickey Mouse and Snow White, and the remote iconography of pre Colombian Mochica culture.
The result of this confluence is a series of work that promises to be interesting, and potentially controversial with its depictions of iconic Western characters alongside Andean themes or with archetypical Andean figures, sometimes interacting in unexpected, even sexual, ways.
The show will open Sept. 21, with an opening reception 6 9 p.m. and run through Oct. 14. Y Gallery is located at 32 7085th St., Jackson Heights.Hours: Wednesday through Saturday, noon 7 p.m. For more information, e mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call (718)565 6285.