By Hector Luis Alamo, Jr.
On Friday, April 12, the Institute of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture will be showcasing a unique collection of artwork.
The artist, Miguel Bayón, first gained attention as a political cartoonist for one of Puerto Rico’s leading newspapers, Primera Hora. With a deft hand at illustration and graphic design, Bayón’s cartoons for PH are a cross between Norman Rockwell, an theme park caricaturist, and Jon Stewart, capturing the zeitgeist while lampooning such eminent figures as former Gov. Luis Fortuño and the leaders of the territory’s main parties.
“It’s a strange medium,” Bayón told Univision back in 2008. “There’s so much potential to do something, to relate something. Drawing is a means of expression the whole world understands.”
In 2010, the Youth Committee of UNESCO named Bayón its “Young Cartoonist of the Year.” He has won several prizes from the Overseas Press Club of Puerto Rico, naming his work for “Curfew” the “Best Illustration” in 2009 and awarding him two prizes in 2011 (“Best Cartoonist” and “Best Illustration”).
He’s been drawing “for as long as I’ve had consciousness,” Bayón said in an interview last year. “At home I drew my family. My first carcicatures and cartoons were of my mom, brothers, uncles, cousins. Likewise, if I saw an ant, animals or little toy figures, then I drew them.”
Now, with his new exhibition, “Caricatura Urbana,” Bayón looks to present the flair of urban culture while providing a positive message to the young people struggling to thrive in such communities.
“Focus, and never deviate,” he tells his younger audience.
“I identify more with low-income guys, like those living in slums, rural towns, and even housing projects.”
The works in “Caricatura Urbana” depict more than 50 people through acrylic on canvas (though he toyed with the idea of presenting the whole thing digitally). Among those featured in the exhibition are Tego Calderón, Yandel, Wisin, Don Omar, Daddy Yankee, Ivy Queen, and Calle 13.
Bayón has promised to donate 30 percent from the sale of his artwork to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.