PRADO REMIX / Jerry Wellman
This past May the Museo Nacional del Prado, American Friends of the Prado Museum, The Spanish Colonial Arts Society, New Mexico Multi-Cultural Foundation, New Mexico True, The City Of Santa Fe Tourism Department and Heritage Hotels and Resorts, Inc., opened an exhibition of high-quality reproductions of paintings, highlights from the Prado collection. The rows of reproductions parked next to the cathedral became a very unexpected arts experience. It was both inspiring and somehow absurd.
A display of dozens of 4-foot-wide reproductions of famous paintings was mounted on metal armatures, held down by sand bags. It framed an experience derived from a simulation that somehow still managed to convey the power of the image.
Walking through the outdoor display I noticed that I was smiling, thoroughly enjoying myself. It was the combination of being surrounded by powerfully realized imagery and the absurdity of the situation that produced this emotional response. I overheard a tourist remarking how their understanding of the Bible did not jive with the painting they were looking at. Then there was the child that noticed what I thought was some small and inconsequential detail, but which they deemed totally worthy of their attention.
Upon seeing Las Meninas by Diego Velázquez from 1656, I was moved to interpret the exhibited paintings in much the same manner as Picasso had done with Las Meninas over 60 years ago. I spent many pleasant mornings eavesdropping on conversations while staring at the reproductions and sketching my own interpretations. I made it my Prado collection, and by September I had completed over 50 drawings.