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'Our America' Latino art, Alfred Maurer, Wright Usonian House

The fall's biggest exhibitions.

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The Arkansas Arts Center, on the heels of its "30 Americans" exhibition that focused on work by African-American artists last spring, opens "Our America: The Latino Presence in American Art" from the Smithsonian Museum in October. The exhibition, three years in the making, presents work by 72 artists of Mexican, Cuban, Puerto Rican and Dominican descent from the mid-20th century to today. The styles are wide-ranging: There is surrealist work (Rafael Soriano, for example), abstraction (Olga Albizu and Carmen Herrera), mixed-media installations (Franco Mondini-Ruiz, Amalia Mesa-Bains), oils (Frank Romero) and photography (Harry Gamboa), sculpture (Luis Jimenez) and much more.

What promises to be a standout in the exhibition is also the earliest: The 1958 "Cowboy and 'Indian' Film" by Raphael Montanez Ortiz, a 16-mm film in black and white that Ortiz altered and screened at the Destruction in Art Symposium in London in 1966.

In a video available on the Arts Center's website (arkansasartscenter.org), curator E. Carmen Ramos explains that Latino artists started attending American art schools in the civil rights era of the mid-20th century and thus became "masters of socially engaged art," though they were not confined to that convention. "Our America" opens Oct. 16 and runs through Jan. 17.

Also diverse was the work of American painter Alfred Maurer, considered to be the first this side of the Atlantic to work in the French style of Fauvism. If you've been to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, you've seen his 1904 oil "Jeanne," a tall painting of a woman decked out in a white satin gown, a hat topped with birds and a boa, holding a cigarette to her somewhat snarling mouth. Now, thanks to an exhibition from the Addison Gallery of American Art at Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass., you'll be able to see Maurer's venture into Fauvism, Cubism and American Modernism. "Alfred Maurer: Art on the Edge," which features more than 70 works, opens Oct. 10 and runs through Jan. 4.

On Nov. 11 (the fourth anniversary of the museum), Frank Lloyd Wright lovers will finally get a peek at the Usonian home that Crystal Bridges moved from New Jersey to Bentonville and has been working on for months to reassemble and renovate.

America's most famous architect developed the simple, lower-cost house design during the Depression and came up with the name Usonian by abbreviating "United States of North America." He designed them to be affordable and distinctly American; about 120 were built.

Members will get to preview the house Oct. 10. The house will be open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday and Friday. Guided tours will be available except on Tuesdays, when the museum is closed, and Friday. The museum has also created a digital exhibition, "Fay Jones and Frank Lloyd Wright: Organic Architecture comes to Arkansas."

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