El Museo del Barrio
Themes: The impact of economics and Creole culture on visual arts
Iconic image: You have to dream (in blue), an 84-by-60-inch oil painting by contemporary Puerto Rican artist Arnaldo Roche Rabell, incorporates native plants to portray the link between man and the land.
As the Caribbean’s economic reliance has shifted from sugar and tobacco industries, which dominated the islands in the 18th century, to energy and tourism today, the cultural identity of the region’s people has blurred. The importance of individuality in an increasingly globalized world is at the heart of the works at the institution, as in Rabell’s painting in which island plants literally make up his self-portrait. • 1230 Fifth Ave between 104th and 105th Sts (212-831-7272, elmuseo.org). Tue–Sat 11am–6pm, Sun 1–5pm; suggested donation $9, seniors and students $5. Tue 12–Jan 6.
Studio Museum in Harlem
Themes: Race and the Caribbean’s dual identity
Iconic image: The ink-and-chalk Portrait of Jean-Baptiste Belley by Anne-Louis Girodet de Roussy-Trioson captures the slave turned Haitian Revolution hero.
The image of a peaceful Caribbean vacation at a seaside resort provides a sharp contrast with the region’s violent history. Works on view reference political uprisings starting with the turn-of-the-19th-century Haitian Revolution, and continue through current global debates about human rights in nations such as Cuba, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic. Meanwhile, a separate display examines a legacy of zombies and drug runners—both fictional and real—who searched the islands for riches and refuge. • 144 W 125th St between Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd (Seventh Ave) and Malcolm X Blvd (Lenox Ave) (212-864-4500, studiomuseum.org). Thu–Fri noon–9pm, Sat 10am–6pm, Sun noon–6pm; suggested donation $7, seniors and students $3. June 14–Oct 21.
Queens Museum of Art
Themes: The hardships of island life and diversity of the Caribbean people
Iconic image: Vanishing Point: Multiple for Assembly, a 12-foot-long wooden airplane with termite-shaped jet engines by Charles Juhasz-Alvarado, demonstrates the battle between man and the elements.
Island living may seem idyllic, but Mother Nature presents complex challenges, from hurricanes to nasty insect infestations. This exhibit, which includes Winslow Homer’s 1888 etching Perils of the Sea, concentrates on this isolation, as well as the cultural developments it can breed in language as well as religious rituals. • Flushing Meadows–Corona Park, near 111th St and 49th Ave entrance, Flushing, Queens (718-592-9700, queensmuseum.org). Wed–Sun noon–6pm; suggested donation $5, seniors and students $2.50, children under 5 free. June 17–Jan 6.