International art biennials can be lavish affairs, with big budgets, big art and participants flying in from hither and yon. But in the present lean times, even high-profile shows are feeling a pinch, and local ones like “La Bienal 2013,” at El Museo del Barrio, survive simply as labors of love on the part of all concerned.
Like many small public museums, El Museo has basically no money, or very little. How the place keeps its lights on, I don’t know. But as the major museum devoted to Latino art and culture in this Latino city, it is indispensable, and knows that, and does what it has to do to keep moving. And so the seventh edition of its bienal, this one with the proactive title “Here Is Where We Jump,” has arrived.
It’s a show with few long-distance travelers; although many of its 37 artists were born elsewhere, most live and work in New York. And most of that work is modest in its materials and size, scaled to small studios.
Despite, or maybe even because of, such limitations, the show is a good one, thoughtful and personal, uneven in parts, solid as a whole.