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The International Review of African-American Art, Vol. 23, No. 1, 01/01/10
Global Connections/New York: Dialects

By Ra kaa Shabaka

In DIALECTS 1.2, at its storefront gallery (October 23 - December 5, 2009), the Bronx River Art Center (BRAC) paired Bronx artist Ronny Quevedo with international artist Shelly Bahl in side-by-side, solo exhibitions to further the definitions of the “international” artist and the “New York” artist, while simultaneously bridging cultures and ideologies.  BRAC exhibits artists from countries that are currently underrepresented in the global art scene, as a parallel response to the Bronx’s own position within the New York art community.

Quevedo was born in Ecuador, moved to the U.S. in 1981, and lives and works in the Bronx.  Shelly Bahl was born in Benares, India and is now based in New York City and Toronto.  Both artists have created installations that deconstruct ubiquitous scenarios, using popular icons, imagery, and paraphernalia.  Quevedo recreates a Bronx bodega to scale, using pencil drawing, print assemblages, and various printmaking techniques to delineate the stores’ varied items.  Bahl’s “International Woman of Mystery” is pop-culture phenomena whose cultural ambiguity allows her “to move through international borders at high speed”.

The installation depicts the differences between these two artists’ work.  The local artist commodifies culture through the imagery of products that can be bought and sold at the local corner store bodega, while the international artist’s global perspective conveys the transferral of ideas.

BRAC provides the interesting juxtaposition of itself in its presentation of artists from countries that are not a part of the international mainstream art community.  As an outsider on the New York art scene, the Center aims to research the phenomenon of the global artist by identifying, from introspection, its own position.

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This program is made possible with support from the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, including Council Members Eric Dinowitz, Althea Stevens, Kristy Marmorato and the Bronx Delegation. Additional support is from Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson, the NYS Council on the Arts with support from Governor Kathy Hochul and the NYS Legislature. Foundation support is from Con Edison: The Power of Giving, The New Yankee Stadium Community Benefits Fund, The Lincoln Fund, Hispanic Federation and private donors.

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