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CELEBRATING INDEPENDENCE Detail from Diaz Art Foundation.

Diaz acknowledges, "I am, however, one of the lucky ones — with gallery representation, museum shows, and works in good collections — but I just know things could have been better, should have been better in the Latino/Latina arts community at large. With the Diaz Art Foundation, I want to celebrate my independence, creating a foundation that is inclusive and to my mind much more interesting."

Model for the Diaz Art Foundation is wire and wood Mexican birdcages stacked up like a skyscraper. He also offers a life-sized storefront Diaz Art Foundation set up in a corner of the museum like a small, makeshift apartment packed with art. Inside there are works by Diaz, Jeff Koons, Roy Lichtenstein, Carolee Schneemann, and Andy Warhol — or at least they're purported to be by those artists. Plus there's a bunch of "miscellaneous Mexican folk art." The stately door is flanked by a pair of decorative trees potted in giant La Morena jalapeño peppers cans.

Again Diaz is nudging you with that tension between cheap and moneyed. His hand-buzzer conceptual gags are a sort of barbed, self-deprecating, knowing minstrelsy. He plays a poor, dim, folksy Latino clumsily trying to put on airs. His institutional and societal critique — though it may be mild and somewhat slight — is about the distance between average folks and glittering art institutions — measured in dollars.

Read Greg Cook's blog at gregcookland.com/journal.

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  Topics: Museum And Gallery , Rhode Island School of Design, RISD, Money
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