With all of the museums dotted along Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, the very last stop (or first) on the Museum Mile tour is East Harlem’s El Museo del Barrio, founded in 1969, specializing in Latin American and Caribbean art, in addition to the rich selection of works from the local Puerto Rican community.
Currently on view, through Nov. 26, is “Antonio Lopez: Future Funk Fashion,” the fun, spunky work of the fashion illustrator Antonio Lopez (1943-1987), exploring aspects of his life as an artist, his inspirations and his influence on the fashion world. In this exhibit focusing on his high-fashion illustrations and his relationships with several top fashion models such as Grace Jones and Jerry Hall, museum-goers can enjoy Lopez’s funky fashion ideas, his shoe and jewelry designs and many images of the people he came to know and love from the streets of the city.
“It’s nice to see a great response to an exhibit,” said William Soto of El Museo. “Lopez’s work connects a lot of people today; it’s work that people can relate to.”
Soto said Lopez’s exhibit has gotten a lot of traffic, and specifically as a result of his relationship with FIT (colleagues and students), the LGBTQ community and his correlation with New York Fashion Week (Sept. 8-15).
“He [Lopez] was a big player on the fashion scene, definitely ahead of his time with his ideas,” said Soto. “He brought a lot of flair and new ideas to style.”
The museum’s permanent collection comprises more than 8,500 total pieces and rotates periodically. It’s composed of pre-Columbian and traditional artifacts, particularly a large permanent Taíno exhibit, as well as 20th-century arts and crafts, graphics and popular media, Mexican masks, textiles from Chile and photographs and traditional art from Puerto Rico.
The current display, an exhibit called “Figure and Form” is on display until Dec. 4. It features some of the museum’s most recent acquisitions, including the museum’s most recent gift, “Puerto Rican Pieta” by David Antonio Cruz.
“El Museo sees thousands of visitors throughout the year,” said Soto, “especially as a result of some of the recent exhibits, programming and the museum’s neighborhood tours.”
El Museo del Barrio, located on Museum Mile at 1230 Fifth Ave. in Manhattan is open Wednesdays through Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. It’s located one block north of the Museum of the City of New York and south of the future Museum for African Art.
Visit www.elmuseo.org or call 212-831-7272 for more information.