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Latin Art

January 25, 1987

When it comes to arts or artists originating in Latin America, critic William Wilson seems stuck in a chauvinist time trap of the 1950s.

Reading his columns, one would never know that civil rights battles of Chicanos and Latinos ever took place. In 1974, Wilson got a "headache" from the Los Four exhibit of Chicano art, and wondered what happened to the museum "as a bastion of cultural excellence." In 1979, he considered Mexico's world famous artist Rufino Tamayo a painter who "ought to be able to paint" and whose work at the Guggenheim Museum "made you think you need a visit to the optometrist."

Now he gets a queasy stomach, and calls an exhibit at the Bowers Museum of pre-Hispanic art from Colombia an "enchilada" and drags in highly irrelevant issues about Colombian cocaine export today as part of an art review ("Discovering Colombia Pre-Columbus," Jan. 11).

Shape up, Mr. Wlson!

What have Mexican enchiladas, or Colombian cocaine (in which U.S. dollars are invested) to do with clay figurines and pottery from before the birth of Christ?

Wilson has every right to his opinion about the quality of an exhibit, or its museography and catalogue. Presumably, that is what The Times pays him for.

But he can write informed and intelligent reviews (I've read them) about other topics. Why not Latin America? Is it only ignorance?


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