Carlos Betancourt: San Juan, PR, 1966

Carlos Betancourt (born San Juan, Puerto Rico 1966) is an American artist, generally described as a multi-disciplinary artist.  His artworks explore issues of memory,  and his own experiences, while also dwelling in issues of nature, the environment and matters of beauty, identity and communication. By means of re-examination, he recycles and reinterprets the past by delivering it in a fresh and new relevant context.  Influenced by personal memories, he believes that art can be informed by one's own experiences, not necessarily the other way around. 

 

Mr. Betancourt's artwork is part of public collections such as the Smithsonian' National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale, San Antonio Museum of Art, Texas, New Orleans Museum of Art, Louisiana, Palm Springs Arts Museum, California, Bass Museum of Art, Florida, PAMM Perez Art Museum, Florida, Museo de Arte Ponde, Puerto Rico. His work is exhibited in various galleries as well as art fairs such as Art Basel and Arco. He is the recipient of numerous awards and grants, including the Florida Department of State Millennium Cultural Recognition Award, a National Endowment for the Arts Grant, Bas-Fisher Invitational Grant, the Florida Prize on Contemporary Art People Choice Award,  and the Miami Beach Arts Council Grant. He has worked as a curator, furniture designer and has collaborated in architectural and  site-specific private and publicl commissions with architect Alberto Latorre.

 

In October 2015, ''Carlos Betancourt: Imperfect Utopia'' was published by Skira/Rizzoli.

Imperfect Utopia explores Betancourt's body of work with more than 250 images and text by Robert Farris Thompson, dean of the history of Art Department at Yale University, Inaugural poet Richard Blanco and writer and art critic Paul Laster.  The artist has participated in several books signing in museums and institutions nationally and internationally, as well as dialogues with Richard Blanco, Warhol Museum chief curator Jose Diaz, and Bonnie Clearwater, director of NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale, amongst others.  The book was received to great success and is currently in the second printing.  It was also selected as Art Book of the month by Interview magazine.

 

Re-Collections, a mid-career retrospective of the artist artworks, opened at the Museo de Arte Contemporaneo (MAC) in San Juan, Puerto Rico in November 2015. Spread through six different galleries and the Museum's main atrium, the exhibit included more than 50 works, including several installations, such as the recreation of En La Arena Sabrosa (2004), a floor piece consisting of hundreds of Dixie-cups sand castles made with sand and soil from the beaches and rivers of Puerto Rico.  Like the book, the exhibit received excellent reviews and was selected as Art Forum Magazine Critic's Pick.

 

During Art Basel MB 2016, The Pelican Passage Tide by Side, a large artwork commissioned to the artist by Faena Arts District in celebration of the opening of Rem Koolhaas Faena Forum, was chosen as Condé Nast Vogue magazine top five Art Basel artworks.

 

In June, 2017, the artist was invited as a speaker for TEDxRVA TED Talks in Richmond, Virginia.  The presentation, titled The Art of Memory, focused on the artist artwork and revolved around the theme of memory and change.

 

Carlos Betancourt IMPRINTED, an exhibition that includes works by the artist from 2001-2017 opened at the Southeast Museum of Photography in Daytona State College, Florida in November 2017.  In June 2018, he won the Peoples Choice Award for his artwork installation and exhibit in the Florida Prize in Contemporary Art exhibition at the Orlando Art Museum. 

 

The artist is currently working in a large-scale digital projection in downtown  Miami title Into the Everglades.  The video is part of an effort with various non-for-profit organizations to  promote the culture, flora and fauna of the Everglades and bring attention to this fragile unique environemnt as well as the endangered Florida Panther.  In December 2021, Milagros! a temporal installation commissioned  by the City of Miami Beach will be unveiled during Art Basel week.  The installation is composed of hundreds of suspended elements inspired by ex-votos and tamata  charms.   The sculptural elements are being  fabricated by local artiseans in Oaxaca, Mexico. 

 

Betancourt was co-founder of 801 Projects, an arts studio center that provides studio space for visual artists based in Miami. The artist is currently building his main studio in Little River, Miami Beach, designed in collaboration with architect Alberto Latorre.  He has been actively involved in the preservation of the Miami Marine Stadium, a mid century architectural masterpiece in Key Biscayne, Florida. He continues to find inspiration mainly from personal experiences and nature, including the Florida Everglades, the rainforest (El Yunque) in Puerto Rico and  his travels particularly to Greece and Mexico.

 

Betancourt and  Latorre recently established the Betancourt-Latorre foundation, a 501(c) non-for profit organization  that helps create  projects  by artists based in Miami and the Caribbean basin. In October 2017, the organization raised and collected supplies that were quickly donated to those affected by the damage caused by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. Most recently, the Betancourt-Latorre foundation awarded more than $30,000.00 in grants to artists working from Miami and Puerto Rico that have been  affected economically by the Covid-19 pandemic.  The foundation is currently raising funds for its next project,  South Beach: Art, Culture and the Last Undergorund,  a book and exhibit focusing on the influential art and culture of Miami in the 1980's to early 2000.