This biography compiled by Geoffrey K. Fleming, Director, Southold Historical Society, primarily from the extensive work of Martin Haggland and the Raphael Collazo Foundation.
RAPHAEL ANGEL COLLAZO (August 1, 1943 - January 4, 1990)
Important Puerto Rican - American modernist-abstract painter. Born August 1, 1943 in San Juan, Puerto Rico, the son of Rafael and Marina Torres Collazo. He moved to New York City with his mother and grandmother in 1944 and had limited involvement with his father for the remainder of his life.
As a child, he attended Pratt Institute's Art for Children program, 1955-58. After studying at the Hudson Guild Settlement House, he attended the High School of Music and Art in New York City from 1958-61. For his accomplishments there he received a scholarship to the School of Visual Arts, NY, where he studied from 1961-64. While at the school he worked and studied with artist and craftsman George Ottman. Following his graduation he began more intense artistic explorations at the Art Students League, NY, where he studied regularly from 1967-76.
During his very short career Collazo created approximately 800 works and exhibited often, both in the continental United States and in his native Puerto Rico. One his earliest major exhibitions was with the Audubon Artists Annual at the National Academy of Design, NY, c. 1967. In the years following he would exhibit at several galleries and museums, including: Galería Santiago, San Juan, Puerto Rico, 1971 (solo); Visual Arts Gallery, NY, 1972 (solo); 125 Prince Street, Inc., 1972-73 (solos); Victor Parker Gallery, NY, 1980 (solo); Steve Bush Exhibit Room, NY, 1981 (solo), 1983 (1 solo, 3 group), 1990; Galería San Geronimo, San Juan, Puerto Rico, 1983; El Museo del Barrio, NY, 1984; Art Lobby, NY, 1984 (twice), 1985 (4 times), 1986-87; Broadway Gallery of Passaic County Community College, Passaic, NJ, 1984; Cork Gallery of Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center, Outer Space, NY, 1985; Outer Space, NY, 1985, 1988; Bogues Messinger Rangel Gallery, NY, 1985; Museum of Contemporary Hispanic Art, NY, 1985, 1987-1988, 1990 (memorial exhibition); R. C. Erpf Gallery, New York, 1985, 1986 (spring & fall, solos), 1988 (solo); Artists for Artists, The Puck Building, NY, 1986; Traveling Exhibition: The Thomas Center Gallery, Gainesville, FL; The Lee Scarfone Gallery, University of Tampa, Tampa, FL; The Polk Museum of Art, Lakeland, FL; The Atlantic Center for the Arts, New Smyrna Beach, FL; 1986-1987; Courtyard Gallery of Ben Shahn Center for Visual Arts at William Patterson College, Wayne, NJ, 1986; P.S. 122 Exhibition, NY, 1987; Riva Yares Gallery, Scottsdale, Arizona, 1988-1989; LEDO, NY, 1989; University of Arizona Museum of Art, Tucson, AZ, 1992 (memorial exhibition), 2004 (Small Giants); Museo de Arte e Historia de San Juan, San Juan, Puerto Rico, 1994-95 (memorial exhibition); State University of New York Albany Museum of Art, Albany, NY, 1995; Galería Matices, Hato Rey, Puerto Rico, 1999-2000; Tucson Museum of Art, AZ, 2006-07 (Excitement of Paint).
Raphael Collazo received a number of awards and prizes between 1960 and 1987, including: Honor Art League, 1960-61; 1st Prize, City-Wide High School Art Students' Painting Competition, NY, May 1961; Morris Kantor Memorial Scholarship, Art Students League, NY, 1974-75, 1975-76; 1st Prize, New York National Bank Exposition of 77 Latin artists, NY, 1987.
Collazo became ill in the fall of 1989 and died of complications from AIDS just a few months later on January 4, 1990. Though Collazo's career was cut short, it was highlighted by much praise, both from collectors, dealers, and fellow artists. Even to this day he continues to be discovered by a broader and broader audience. The realist painter Anderson Scott commented not long ago "I never get tired of looking at his work. You can explore one of his pieces and discover something new each time."
Collazo's works are held in a number of major museums and art institutions, including: Colección de las Artes, Sistema de Bibliotecas, Universidad de Puerto Rico, Recinto de Río Piedras, San Juan, Puerto Rico; The Hispanic Society of America Museum, NY, NY; Museo de Arte Contemporáneode Puerto Rico, San Juan, Puerto Rico; Museo de Arte de Ponce, Ponce, Puerto Rico; Museo de Historia, Antropologíay Arte, Universidad de Puerto Rico, Recinto de Río Piedras, San Juan, Puerto Rico; El Museo del Barrio, NY, NY; Museum of New Mexico - Museum of Fine Arts, Santa Fe, NM; New Britain Museum of American Art, New Britain, CT; The Parrish Art Museum, Southampton, NY; State University of New York - Albany Museum of Art, Albany, NY; Tampa Art Museum, Tampa, FL; Tucson Museum of Art, Tucson, AZ; The University of Arizona Museum of Art, Tucson, AZ; The University of Utah - Utah Museum of Fine Arts, Salt Lake City, UT; Yaddo Artists Community, Saratoga Springs, NY.