If you've spent any time at Monona Terrace, chances are that you already know the work of Pedro Guerrero. Sixty Guerrero photos documenting famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright and his work are on permanent display in the facility. But what you may not know is that Guerrero also had an intimate connection with other leading lights of modern art and architecture, such as Alexander Calder and Louise Nevelson.
You can get a fuller view of Guerrero's life and work through Pedro E. Guerrero: Beyond Frank Lloyd Wright, opening Tuesday, Sept. 9 at Promega's BioPharmaceutical Technology Center. Says Arizona-based exhibition curator Daniel Swadener, "This show is about his whole career as a photographer. I want to show who Pedro is and where he came from. People here [in Madison] know about Pedro because of the Wright connection, but this is a way to show, as the title says, what there is beyond Frank Lloyd Wright."
Guerrero, who turns 91 this year, will be in Madison for the opening celebration from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 9. He'll sign copies of the book Pedro E. Guerrero: A Photographer's Journey. His grand-nephew, Quetzal Guerrero, an eclectic Latin jazz artist, will perform along with other musical guests.
While Guerrero's attitude may be modest - "When shooting for Wright or Calder or Nevelson, I always kept in mind that I am not the creator," he once said - he is certainly an intriguing figure in his own right.
He ran an aerial combat photo lab in Italy for the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II. After the war, in addition to resuming his work with Wright, Guerrero established a successful freelance career in New York, shooting for glossy mags like Vogue, Architectural Digest and House and Garden. In fact, it was an assignment for House and Garden that led to his association with Calder.
Says Swadener, "Pedro has a really good eye for what's important, and his is an insider's perspective. You can tell by the photos he does that people are responding to Pedro." While the Promega show will include some of the work relating to Wright, Calder and Nevelson, it will also include New York street scenes, some of Guerrero's early academic studies and more.
What also gives this show a fresh angle is the inclusion of other Guerrero family members, such as his nephew Zarco, a visual artist, actor and writer. This is the first time Pedro and Zarco have exhibited together. Zarco, who has studied a number of mask-making traditions around the world, will show about 50 masks, many of them influenced by Japanese Noh theatrical masks.
Zarco's wife, the jewelry maker Carmen de Novais, will also exhibit her work, as will Pedro Guerrero's son Ben, grandsons Alexander and Antonio, and granddaughter Hannah.
"They're a very talented and important American family," says Swadener.
Pedro E. Guerrero: Beyond Frank Lloyd Wright
Promega, 5445 E. Cheryl Parkway, Sept. 9-Nov. 21
Reception Sept. 9, 4:30 pm