This vision of collective action and cultural preservation—born out of hope and necessity—has been channeled toward efforts to realize a groundbreaking new organization in Puerta de Tierra. Storefront for Art and Architecture is honored to host the Museum of History and Community of Puerta de Tierra (MHC PDT). Previously housed only in the minds and living rooms of community members, this nascent museum is presented publicly for the first time ever at Storefront’s gallery space.
The museum emerged after years of work by Brigada Puerta de Tierra (BPDT), a multigenerational group of artists and activists. It puts forth the vision that the lived experiences of the people of Puerta de Tierra matter, and that they can uniquely tell the rich and complex histories of a community undergoing intense urban pressures that would drastically alter the character of its social fabric.
Brigada Puerta de Tierra is structured as a horizontal organization that uses art and storytelling as a tool for education. The group has its foundations in grassroots and collective action; it was formed in 2015 as a response to the construction of the controversial Paseo Puerta de Tierra, a major redevelopment project that lacked citizen involvement. With the goal of reclaiming the neighborhood, BPDT has been active ever since. Its members have cleaned, maintained, and transformed abandoned sites in Puerta de Tierra through creative initiatives such as mural-making, gardening, and other outdoor programs that bring neighbors together.
The Museum of History and Community of Puerta de Tierra is BPDT’s most ambitious initiative to date. Over the last few months, Storefront has provided institutional support intended to help fulfill the museum’s mission (developed through self-led workshops) “to affirm, care for, and carry with pride and dignity the cultural legacy of the neighborhood through community participation, and to preserve the cultural heritage and collective memory of Puerta de Tierra.”
Currently without a long-term venue for the museum, Brigada Puerta de Tierra has been working toward rehabilitating and legally gaining access to the Edificio Infanzón, a historic building in Puerta de Tierra that has been abandoned for decades. After its presentation at Storefront, the MHCPDT will launch an international tour to create awareness of both the fragility and power of the neighborhood’s identity. Eventually, Brigada Puerta de Tierra aims to present the museum at its permanent home at the Edificio Infanzón.
Storefront for Art and Architecture and Brigada Puerta de Tierra welcome you to the inaugural public presentation of the Museum of History and Community of Puerta de Tierra.
Over the summer of 2015, the group, along with children and young people from the neighborhood who immediately showed interest in collaborating, began to create murals and engage in other activities in response to the Paseo Puerta de Tierra project.
This group, now known as Brigada Puerta de Tierra, focuses on the reactivation of abandoned areas and preservation of the neighborhood’s history and living culture. Uniting under the slogan “aquí vive gente,” BPDT is organized horizontally and collectively, and operates through four key concepts: self-management, awareness, strategic planning, and collective decision-making. For its various neighborhood initiatives and community activities since 2015, BPDT was recognized with the Merit and Dedication Award of the 46th edition of the Fiestas of San Sebastián Street for its commitment to its community and national culture.
In addition to this exhibition, Brigada Puerta de Tierra was honored at Storefront’s 2019 Spring Benefit on Wednesday, May 29th at La Marqueta. For more information, visit www.storefrontbenefit.org.
Storefront for Art and Architecture and Taller Creando Sin Encargos announce an open call for ideas to reimagine the historic Infanzón Building, located in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The building, which has been abandoned for over two decades, is poised to serve as the permanent home of the Museum of History and Community of Puerta de Tierra (MHC PDT).
This open call for proposals is an extension of the exhibition Aquí vive gente (People Live Here) by Brigada Puerta de Tierra, presented at Storefront’s gallery space from June 1st-September 7th, 2019. The exhibition is the first public presentation of the nascent MHC PDT, which has a mission “to affirm, care for, and carry with pride and dignity the cultural legacy of the neighborhood through community participation, and to preserve the cultural heritage and collective memory of Puerta de Tierra.”
The open call aims to support Brigada Puerta de Tierra, a community collective and activist group that works with artists, youth, and residents of the neighborhood of Puerta de Tierra, in their mission to convert the Infanzón Building into the MHC PDT. Since 2016, the collective has been working with the community of Puerta de Tierra to clean, restore, and preserve the building for this use.
The relationship of culture to territory and political power is loaded with complexity and layered with history. Through an expanded understanding of what constitutes art and architecture, Chilean artist Juan Downey weaved together an insightful vision of the relationship between people and site that remains prescient today. Downey developed an interdisciplinary and intermedial practice grounded in the social and the political that simultaneously addressed environmental and anthropological concerns, examining society’s cultural shifts through video and interactive art, architecture, and cybernetics.
Presented as part of a new year-long public program called Building Cycles, Storefront for Art and Architecture partners with Ediciones MP to host the book launch of Juan Downey: 1940-1993. With the participation of book editors Julieta González and Javier Rivero Ramos, the event reflects the structure of the publication, chronologically positioning Juan Downey’s legacy against a historical background that frames his practice within a wider artistic and political context.
To mark the closing of Aquí vive gente: Museum of History and Community of Puerta de Tierra, Storefront for Art and Architecture presents Todos juntos (Everyone Together). This day-long program begins with an exhibition tour by Margarita Ramos, a member of Brigada Puerta de Tierra and the artist of the mobile murals on the walls of the gallery space.
Visual arts, sports, and music are central to Puerta de Tierra’s identity and are core themes in the collection of the newly formed Museum of History and Community of Puerta de Tierra. The museum aims to preserve and heighten the practice of artists, athletes, and musicians from the neighborhood through creative programs that bring everyone together.
Extension Familiar by Javier Bosques is a series of model-scale ceramic houses drawn from memory and made in collaboration with the artist’s mother, Elba Meléndez. The edition pays homage to single-family housing with unfinished construction, a common sight in the Puerto Rican landscape. Typically built upon over time due to constrained resources, the cinder blocks stacked over the roof signal aspirations to expand and grow. This construction process goes very slowly, as if permanently on pause, leaving each house as a humble facade of hope.
José Esparza Chong Cuy
Executive Director and Chief Curator
Gallery and Operations Manager
Development and Communications Associate
Interns: Lin Sen Chai, Ellen Eberhardt, Ramses Gonzalez, Hana Halilaj, Caroline Koh Smith, Ipek Kosova, Daniel Li, Adela Locsin, Amora McConnell, Karen Wang
Photography by Hatnim Lee, David "Dee" Delgado, and Melvin Audaz.
Graphic design assistance by Estudio Herrera.
Brigada Puerta de Tierra is the recipient of the 2017 Visible Award (Cittadellarte – Fondazione Pistoletto, Fondazione Zegna), funding from which has supported this exhibition.
Aquí vive gente is the first exhibition of Storefront for Art and Architecture’s year-long program of exhibitions and events, Building Cycles. Founding support of Building Cycles is generously provided by Linde-Griffith Construction Company and the Graham Foundation.
Storefront’s programming is made possible through general support from Arup; DS+R; KPF; the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature; public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council; and by Storefront’s Board of Directors, members, and individual donors.