"Nueva York" turns lens south to NY Hispanic roots
By Walker Simon
NEW YORK (Reuters) - A new exhibit at El Museo del Barrio turns an historic lens on New York's north-south relations, highlighting its long and deep roots with the Spanish-speaking world.
"Nueva York: 1613-1945," which opens on September 17 and runs until early next year, depicts the city as a cultural crossroads for artists, intellectuals and revolutionary agitators from Spain, Latin America and the Caribbean.
Hostile or amicable, New York's Latin America ties fueled its rise as an economic power, according to the exhibit, enriching families such as the Guggenheims.
"For most New Yorkers, the show's surprise will be that New York's extensive ties to the Spanish-speaking world do not begin after the Second World War, the period of massive Latin American immigration, but 300 years earlier," curator Marci Reaven said an interview.
The exhibit features about 200 objects, including rare maps, letters, paintings, photos, books and announcements.
The city's oldest museum, the New York Historical Society joined El Museo del Barrio in organizing the exhibit.
The show opens with the story of Juan Rodriguez, an Afro-Caribbean from Santo Domingo who arrived in 1613. He was Manhattan's first recorded Hispanic resident who was here for at least a year. The first group of Spanish speakers were 23 Sephardic Jews, who fearing persecution in Brazil, arrived in 1654.
A false-bottomed barrel concealing Spanish silver coins under green coffee beans shows how New York merchant families reaped wealth from often-illicit trade with Spanish colonies. Continued...