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The A-List Featured Artist

Dionis Ortiz

The ground beneath our feet is more than just a means to an end, and in Dionis Ortiz’s new solo exhibition CONCRETE REALITY, the streets, sidewalks, stoops, steps and stairs of his beloved West Harlem neighborhood echoes with artifacts and fond memories of his childhood community.

In this edition of Artist Spotlight, WHAA focuses its lens on West Harlem’s own native son Dionis Ortiz, whose current solo exhibition is showing at The Children’s Arts Carnival (62 Hamilton Terrace) now through October 31, 2023, with gallery hours of Saturday & Sundays 12:00 – 5:00pm.

Growing up in West Harlem myself, albeit a decade or two earlier, I was transported back to those days by Dionis’ street side depictions of what was for us, the backdrop or foundation of our formative years: our daily hangouts, our great outdoors, our playground, our school.  On the cross hatched street of West Harlem, we learned as much about the reality of life at the “corner” than we did in the classroom.  Birthdays, block parties, barbecues, fireworks and cooling off at a hydrant on hot humid days, and all the minutia accessories of fun times can be seen in Dionise’s homage to community. 

The works presented stretches from painting, printmaking, sculpture and collage while his commitment to community centered artmaking reverberate within the chosen subject matter.  Working with deeply personal ideas and processes, Dionis honors our collective memory that is rooted in his home of West Harlem and his Dominican descent.

In a recent artist talk, Dionis revealed that from an early age, growing up on 144th Street near Amsterdam Avenue, he enrolled in classes at The Children’s Art Carnival (CAC) where received a foundation in a range of arts techniques including figurative drawing and painting, abstraction, photography, comic arts and illustration.  As a result of his years at CAC, which extended throughout his high school years, Dionise received many accolades and awards from and including Arts Connection, Scholastic’s Alliance for Young Artist and Writers division, Hallmark Gold Key Award, and the NAACP ACT-SO Gold Key Award, which qualified him for their national awards competition. 

Dionis cultivated his interest and background in the arts to establish Inspiration Fine Art, a fine art gallery located in Harlem. Since its inception in 2005, he has organized and curated various group exhibitions and showcased the works of emerging and established artists from New York City.

In 2008 he assisted Metropolitan Transit Authority grant recipient Jose Ortiz in painting eleven panels on canvas. In 2009 he assisted lead muralist Eduardo A. Rabel in painting five concrete water pipes at the Teaneck Creek Conservancy in New Jersey. He designed a mural for Heineken as part of their Mural Arts Program. He is also being commissioned by the Addition Research and Treatment Corporation in Brooklyn in creating a mural painting on canvas.

In 2021 he was Artist in Residence at the Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art and Storytelling, and his mural design was selected by PubliColor for an elementary school in East Harlem. His work has been featured in The New York Times several times and is included in Latinx Art: Artists, Market, and Politics by Arlene Dávila.  His community work extends to teaching and Ortiz teaches all ages from pre-K to teenagers and undergraduates at Hunter College and Cornell University. He received his B.F.A from SUNY Purchase College and his M.F.A from CUNY Hunter College.

Drawing from his experiences as a child born and raised with his Dominican family in West Harlem, Dionis continues to live and create in our beloved neighborhood, where his geometric, process-based works from ill-regarded and found materials to celebrate the people of the African diaspora. And I am happy, for one, to have gotten my daily dose of concrete reality at the CAC’s exhibition, if only to relive for a fleeting moment, the carefree life of illusion we all did as children.


Solo exhibition by Dionis Ortiz

Gallery Hours: Saturday & Sunday 12:00 – 5:00pm

Exhibition Dates: September 23 to October 31, 2023

Exhibition on view at the Children’s Art Carnival, 62 Hamilton Terrace, New York, NY 10031, Weekday visits available by appointment only, email us at


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