“All art is a form of knowledge, a learning method, but portraiture is so in an intimate, sometimes alarming way. More than a few people shun from it; for that reason, they fear it even in this day and age, which is ruled by the immediacy and ephemeral nature of the selfie. Evidently or not, the more or less formal portrait aims at permanence, even immortality. hence its promise and threat” —Antonio Martorell
When I visit a city or a country, or in Puerto Rico’s case, a “territory”, I like to explore the natural side along with the urban side—stopping in the area’s most-known art destinations, restaurants, etc.
Well, on a tight time schedule and it being a Sunday (for all you museum-goers you know museums close super early on most Sundays and are closed Mondays or Tuesdays), I only had about an hour so to quickly enjoy Museo de Arte de Ponce.
I read about Museo de Arte de Ponce prior to my visit as it topping the San Juan area’s museums, and I was already making my way around the island anways, so I decided to spend the night in Ponce which ended up turning into two nights because I fell in love with its charm that much.
Right in the front of Ponce Museum of Art’s newly renovated space there is a boastful Roy Lichtenstein sculpture “Brushstrokes in Flight”.
Walking in, the bright white interior reflected the sun to create a warm feeling greeted by a double staircase that if you’re lucky enough, you can snatch a pic without anyone hanging in front of your perfect shot.
There are two major exhibits as of now, all of which by artist’s I have not heard of which made the trip that more interesting. First is the “El Papel del Retrato” installation on display until February, a collection of emotional portraits done by Antonio Martorell. 50 years after his return to Puerto Rico after studying at the Luis A. Ferre Foundation in Spain, Ponce welcomes the artist back in collaboration with other Puerto Rican institutions to bring us a stunning exhibit named after “paper”—Martorell’s preferred surface for his work.
In the middle of “El Papel del Retrato” there is an AMAZING floor collage put together to recreate Martorell’s self-portrait, also making for the perfect chance to try and get featured on the #ihavethisthingwithfloors Instagram:
Another exhibit really had me going with its three-part nature: “Would That I Wish For” (Tall Totem, out in the front of the museum), “Conversations” (Enclosed Totem on the second floor), and “Silent Echo” (Floor Totem) by Marko Remec. The reflective themes align with many contemporary urban and suburban phenomenon including surveillance and paranoia, indifference and narcissism. “Todo Totem” (“All Totem”) also is inspired by New York City’s urbanity, with the city’s electric poles and mirrors.
Art isn’t the only thing to enjoy; outside the second floor’s upper deck lets you enjoy treetops and view Ponce’s extraordinary landscapes:
Overall the museum is worth making a night of Ponce, Puerto Rico’s second largest city located in the South. If you have a longer while, Ponce is central giving you access to multiple day trips to the southwest or southeast regions, and the town itself gives you that classic Spanish colonial feeling transporting you to another world that definitely doesn’t feel like the states.