(Picture: Pablo Marcano Garcia)
by Pedro Sarsama
Just west of the beautiful banderas of Paseo Boricua is the newly-opened Institute of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture (IPRAC), the only museum exclusively dedicated to Puerto Rican art & culture in the states. Humboldt Park has historically been Chicago’s largest Puerto Rican community and in the face of gentrification, many are striving to preserve our Pedacito de Patria. Situating IPRAC in Humboldt Park is part of the conscious effort on behalf of community members to preserve Puerto Rican culture and community here. Located in the historic Horse Stables and Receptory of Humboldt Park (3015 W. Division), IPRAC is also helping to preserve this beautiful landmark. IPRAC has restored about eighty percent of the facility and is actively working to complete the renovations.
IPRAC’s opening reception, held on June 12, was a great success with 250 guests that included many notable community, business, and educational leaders. Among these important guests was Billy Ocasio, former 26th Ward Alderman. Ocasio gave wonderful remarks praising the hard work of the Board of Directors and IPRAC’s supporters. At the opening José López, Executive Director of IPRAC, presented artist Pablo Marcano García, whose exhibit Luz y Color is currently on display at IPRAC. Marcano García gave a powerful opening to his exhibition, which he feels represents hope for Puerto Ricans. He presented Margaret Burroughs, a major arts figure in the African American community, one of his paintings to be donated to the Dusable Museum. Luz y Color is a vibrant exhibit celebrating Puerto Rican history and culture through a series of paintings and silkscreens.
IPRAC is currently working on building a permanent collection of work by Puerto Rican artists, offering year-round programs of permanent and traveling exhibitions, giving educational art workshops, and hosting various art and film festivals.
The first of these festivals is the Puerto Rican Film Series, taking place at dusk on August 8 and 22, showcasing films by Puerto Rican filmmakers. Also coming up at IPRAC is the Barrio Art Fest on September 19 and 20.
IPRAC is free and open to the public throughout the summer. Its hours of operation are Thursday-Friday 3 PM – 7 PM, Saturday 10 AM – 4 PM, and Sunday 12 PM – 5 PM. Luz y Color is on display July 6 until September 6. More information about these and other events can be found by visiting IPRAC or calling (773) 486-8345.