Liga de Arte de San Juan

Offering training in the visual arts and supporting local artists since 1968

Liga de Arte de San Juan, "La Liga"Flamboyan Arts Fund

LA LIGA. DYNAMIC LIFELONG LEARNING THROUGH TEACHING AND ART EXHIBITIONS OPEN TO ALL PUBLICS. The Liga Estudiantes de Arte de San Juan is an arts organization firmly committed to provide education in the visual arts to a broad public and to support Puerto Rican artists.

It was founded in 1968 by a group of artists and art lovers that wanted to offer a program of visual art studies open to all people interested in the arts.

Unique in its class, and not focused on leading to an academic degree, but in offering lifelong learning opportunities, it welcomes through different projects, workshops and courses, boys and girls from 5 years old to adults of all ages. Its workshops and studio-based methodology are designed to guide the students in the development of their artistic faculties and technical skills, as well as to cultivate their aesthetic sensibility, be they aspiring to professional practice or for personal enjoyment.

Since its founding, it has been a pillar of the island's cultural activities, giving thousands of students the opportunity to integrate the graphic arts as part of their human, creative and professional development, through education in the visual arts, exhibitions in their gallery, and by providing support to young artists who are starting out in the field of fine arts.

Liga de Arte de San Juan, "La Liga"Flamboyan Arts Fund

Old San Juan: Unique cultural environment

All this within the unique cultural environment that Old San Juan offers.

La Liga founders: Leah Cohen, Mrs. and Mr. Francisco Lizardi, Secretary of Public Works (1968)Flamboyan Arts Fund


In 1967, Leah Cohen, an American resident in Puerto Rico, used the radio waves to ask something like this: Who might be interested in creating in San Juan a nucleus of art students similar to the New York Art Students League?

And among those listening, eighteen people responded, meeting soon after at the Las Nereidas School in Santurce. Others joined in shortly after and, as the group grew, they decided to organize as a directive that steering the efforts into a reality. The members were: Leah Cohen (President), Roberto Ayala (Vice President), Delta de Picó (Secretary), Norman Hopgood (Treasurer). Paca Biascoechea, María Rechany, Marifé Vall-Lloberas, Gladys Anglada, Felipe C. Jiménez and Betsy Padín were also members of this directive board members or vocales.

On May 15, 1968, after having organized two first sessions of art courses, the group incorporated as a non-profit organization aimed at teaching art, under the name of Liga Estudiantes de Arte de San Juan, Inc. On May 31, the State Department certified the incorporation with a retroactive date to the presentation of the application, and the original Board of Directors assumed the direction of the new institution. Shortly afterwards, the Board of Directors created a body to support the institution, called the Board of Trustees.

Photo of La Casita, first home of Liga de Arte de San JuanFlamboyan Arts Fund

IF YOU BUILD IT, THEY WILL COME. By the end of the first year, La Liga had a gallery, well-attended exhibitions, a magazine, their own building, and a program of quarterly classes, taught by paid professional artists and art teachers.

THE HEADQUARTERS IN OLD SAN JUAN. After offering its first course sessions in lent facilities in the Condado and Miramar neighborhoods, the Liga settled in December 1968 in what was its first headquarters, affectionately called "La Casita." It was an old and small structure, now defunct, that was part of the old Fort Brooke, in the Ballajá neighborhood of Old San Juan, whose use was ceded to it by the government at the request of the institution. After the building was refurbished, the Liga remained there for nine years.

Facade of the San Juan Art League main buildingFlamboyan Arts Fund

In 1977, under the presidency of Betsy Padín, negotiations began with the State to achieve more adequate facilities, in keeping with the development achieved by the institution.

Facade of the San Juan Art League main buildingFlamboyan Arts Fund

The efforts bore fruit and on December 10 of that same year the Liga inaugurated its new and current headquarters, very close to the original, in a building that was part of the old Hospital de la Concepción, el Grande, on Calle de la Beneficencia in Old San Juan.

TODAY, its distinctive magenta painted and art-interved building is one of the must see stops in all tours of all San Juan.

CURRICULUM: During its years of continuous development, the School has systematically expanded its curricular offerings in all disciplines, traditional and non-traditional, of the visual arts: drawing, painting, graphic arts, sculpture, ceramics, photography, calligraphy, stained glass, mosaic, always venturing into new developments, perspectives and approaches. The list of special courses has historically been wide and rich in possibilities: caricature, concrete sculpture, metalsmithing, digital illustration, carving of wooden saints, tapestry production, etc, including courses in art appreciation and history, aimed at promoting an intelligent approach and sensitive to artistic production of all times, particularly modern and contemporary.

Painting workshopFlamboyan Arts Fund

Liga de Arte de San Juan, "La Liga"Flamboyan Arts Fund

Programs for children and youths

One of the main goals of the school has been the development of art courses aimed at children, in order to awaken their aesthetic sensitivity and enable the development of talents from the earliest ages.

Summer program for children, "Verano en La Liga".Flamboyan Arts Fund

The Liga was, precisely, the first institution that ventured into Puerto Rico in the teaching of infants from 1 to 3 years old. Currently, it maintains courses aimed at children aged 5 and over in its regular program and offers summer art workshops for children and teens.

Delta de Picó, founder of Liga de Arte de San JuanFlamboyan Arts Fund


Many renowned teachers have left their mark in the history of the Liga and in the lives of their students.

In the photo, Delta de Picó, an artist who devoted her life to the programs and development of la Liga.

Ceramist Lorraine de Castro, From the collection of: Flamboyan Arts Fund
Art class by artist Betsy Padín, From the collection of: Flamboyan Arts Fund
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Artist Tito Suárez exhibtionFlamboyan Arts Fund

Exhibition Program

The Delta Picó Gallery and the Betsy Padín Space, named in honor of two of the Liga’s teachers and founders, continue to be active with a high-quality exhibition program focus to the student population and the general public.

Liga de Arte de San Juan, "La Liga"Flamboyan Arts Fund

The Scholarship Program

From its inception, the Liga instituted a scholarship program aimed at making it possible for talented students with limited economic resources to study at the institution.

The scholarships are awarded per academic session and their continuation depends on the achievement of the scholarship recipients as certified by their professors. This program is supported by contributions from partners and friends who believe in the institution's ability to discover and develop artistic talents or enhance sensibilities. The scholarships have also served to reward the achievements of children, young people and adults in competitions organized by the institution itself or by public and private entities in the country. The program has been a motivating and driving force in the development of skills in the visual arts, serving hundreds of students of limited economic resources and proven artistic talent.

La Liga 50th Anniversary Exhibition at the San Juan MuseumFlamboyan Arts Fund

Still Strong. 50 years of La Liga.

In August 2019, the Liga de Arte commemorated the fiftieth anniversary of its founding in 1968.

One way to celebrate such an important event was to organize an exhibition, curated by José David Miranda, a representative, but limited, sample of the extensive list of artists linked to the institution for the last 50 years: master artists who have taught at the Liga, artists who were at one time students at the institution, artists who since 1969 have exhibited at the San José Gallery, and at the Delta Picó Gallery or whose work has been the subject of critical articles in some of the 21 issues published between 1978 and 1991 of the Plástica magazine.

La Liga 50th Anniversary Exhibition at the Museo de Las AméricasFlamboyan Arts Fund

50 Anniversary Exhibitions

For this important anniversary, La Liga worked with two other Old San Juan museums to commemorate the occasion, Museo de Las Américas and Museo de San Juan.

Divided among the spaces, the exhibition brought together works of over 100 artists from various generations and movements: paintings, drawings, mixed media pieces, posters and other graphics, photographs, sculptures and installations, with a space reserved for performance pieces.

Artists' flea marketFlamboyan Arts Fund

New developments in curriculum and outreach

Regarding the institution's educational projects, they have continued to grow and diversify.

They developed a summer camp for children and young people, presented the podcast Desde La Liga (From La Liga), with nine episodes where they shared the history and projects of the institution, and created the Explore Art @ La Liga project, a cultural proposal destined to offer artistic experiences to international and local tourists, engaging them to the historical sites of Old San Juan and to Puerto Rican culture.

Through this project, the successful series Diálogos entre artistas (Dialogues among Artists) was organized, offering exchanges of ideas and experiences among renowned Puerto Rican visual artists, through live broadcasting. These dialogues were very well received, which demonstrates the interest of Puerto Ricans in learning about the work of their artists and recovering part of their cultural history.

Diálogos entre artistas (Dialogues among Artists)

Antonio Martorell + Garvin Sierra

During 2020, in the context of COVID-19, in order to continue offering quality educational content and to generate income to address the crisis caused by the pandemic, the institution designed new virtual programming. La Liga desde tu Casa (La Liga from your home) allowed students from more than 30 municipalities in Puerto Rico, and also from some cities in the United States, to participate in the courses remotely. This format implied a challenge for the professors, who adapted to the technological dynamics in order to continue teaching, being a key element for the students to feel satisfied with the experience. The impact and reach of La Liga increased significantly and in the present they are offering both virtual and on-site courses and workshops.

Mmural of Puerto Rican master artist Myrna Baez, for the Campechada cultural event.Flamboyan Arts Fund

Presence in the community

La Liga has build for itself great recognition and presence in the community thanks to its spirit of collaboration with other cultural organizations and efforts to engage the community. 

The collaboration of the Liga with the annual celebration of La Campechada, a cultural and artistic activity that for several years was a tradition in the capital city, undoubtedly shows that the union of wills enhances the success of events of this nature.

Artwork by the students of "Art in your community".Flamboyan Arts Fund

Art in your community with La Liga

The program intends to bring art workshops to children and youth from disadvantaged communities in Puerto Rico.

This project emerges considering that art plays an essential role in the development of children, and that unfortunately most children and youth in Puerto Rico don't have access to quality education in the arts. The Liga aims to bring the benefits of art to vulnerable communities, contributing to the psychosocial development of children and youth, while supporting the strategic goal of the institution to strengthen the scope of community projects.

Student of the program "Art in your community".Flamboyan Arts Fund

Looking to the future

It should be noted that in recent years, despite the complicated context, the current management of the institution has managed to maintain its enrollment rates within the usual parameters.

Everything indicates that after five decades, La Liga remains at the levels of excellence that have always characterized it and with its horizons open to new projects and developments that contribute to give it greater strength and permanence.

Liga de Arte has played an essential role in the development of the arts in Puerto Rico. Numerous renowned artists have trained, taught and exhibited their work at La Liga. Each month, hundreds of art students of all ages, social backgrounds and skill levels benefit from the classes, exhibitions and variety of programs offered by La Liga.

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