Sometimes, you just stumble on things. And that is often the case with exhibits at the Ripley Center, the underground Smithsonian complex that ties together the Sackler and Freer galleries, houses the Discovery Theater, and provides office space and teaching space for the Smithsonian Resident Associates program. This is because they have exhibits in the hallways and in one large exhibition space, and the exhibits are not always well publicized. And you can be down in the Ripley bowels for other reasons and come upon an unexpected exhibit.
So it is with the exhibit of Puerto Rican posters, or more formally “Posters from the Division of Community Education of Puerto Rico”.
From 1949-1989, Divedco (as it is known) engaged artists to make socially relevant poster art for a number of social purposes, not unlike what was happening in Communist Cuba (from the late 1950s on) and the Soviet Union. Posters providing health advice, promoting cultural events, promoting sporting events, getting out the vote. The large collection on display represent a number of indiginous artists, for one of the goals of Divedco was to encourage the artistic talents of islanders. For anyone who enjoys poster art generally, these posters from Puerto Rico will open your eyes to a new source and expand your vista.