MFAH's "El Encuentro" brings together emerging Hispanic artists, gallery owners& the public
Every two years, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston hosts the "Latin American Experience," a weekend festival culminating in a gala for the museum's Latin American art department that features an auction of blue chip works. This year, the experience includes an open-to-the-public quasi-art fair event of galleries from Spain and Latin America, entitled "El Encuentro (The Encounter)."
CultureMap spoke with Latin American art curator Mari Carmen Ramírez to investigate the intricacies of El Encuentro. "The co-chair for this year's gala and auction, Dr. Luis T. Campos, a very well-known oncologist and collector, came up with the idea of inviting a series of galleries to participate in this experience," she explained.
Ramírez intends for El Encuentro to be not just an introduction to Latin American art, but Latin American culture as a whole. Visitors are invited to mix and mingle with emerging artists and established gallerists at the forefront of Latin American art as part of the museum's 10th anniversary celebration of the department.
El Encuentro offers an international art fair-style set-up with 25 galleries providing information about the art and artists they represent. The event is unique among gala and auction programming because it includes the general public along with international artists and gallery owners. Among those represented are Buenos Aires-based Rubbers Internacional, Galería Cayón from Madrid and Lima's Galería Lucia de la Puente.
"This is not just showing a work of art," Ramírez said. "This is about promoting everything that has to do with Latin American art."
In preparation for El Encuentro, the gala planning committee extended an invitation to around 40 galleries that were vetted as top art dealers in the field.
"Some are established, or serious galleries that are up and coming," Ramírez said. "Our objective is to bring the best art and artists, to keep the bar very high and promote the best artistic culture. We don't want to go with the animals and the parrots. We're after the really high quality art that you find at Miami Basel."
El Encuentro is being held Friday from 4 - 6 p.m. (though the MFAH is closed because of the ice storm, it will be open for El Encuentro activities) and Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. in the hallway beside Café Express. A neighboring pop-up collector's lounge will allow galleries to meet privately with clients.
Also on tap this weekend: "Conversing with Color: Carlos Cruz-Diez and Mari Carmen Ramirez," a special conversation between the curator and the pioneering Franco-Venezuelan artist, whose retrospective opens at the MFAH on Sunday. The talk will take place on Saturday at 1 p.m. and is open to the public with the price of museum admission.