Albuquerque, Nuevo Mexico
The National Hispanic Cultural Center is host to a traditional art exhibition called “Chicano Visions: American Painters on the Verge,” and “Chicano Now: American Expressions.” This dual exhibition will visit 12 other cities during the next five years. It will showcase many of today’s Chicano voices. The exhibition inspired and directed by Cheech Marin opened in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on February 1, 2003. The exhibition is a 5,000-square-foot interactive multimedia exhibition featuring an array of hands-on interactive displays. The sections of the exhibition are entitled “The Border,” “Family,” “Work,” “Style” and “Who Am I?”
Various artists and entertainers contributed to the displays which inspire appreciation of Chicano art, culture and scholastic achievement. The work from Chicano artists such as Carlos Almaraz, Melesio Casas, Patssi Valdez and Carmen Lomas Garza explores stereotypes and focus on positive portrayals of Chicanos. The Chicano art exhibition is presented by Target Stores and sponsored by Hewlett- Packard Company.
The curator of the Chicano Visions exhibition in Albuquerque is Rene Yanez. The exhibition showcases more than 26 artists’ interpretations of visual art, mostly in paintings of oil or acrylic on canvas. Cheech Marin’s personal collection forms the core of the presentation. The director of the art museum is Dr. Helen Lucero. The exhibition will remain on display in New Mexico through May 18, 2003.
Chicano Visions first opened in November 2001 at the San Antonio Museum of Art in San Antomio, Texas. Next it was on view at the Smithsonian Institute Arts & Industries Building in Washington, D.C. through January 5, 2003. When the exhibition leaves Albuquerque it will tour 12 more cities on a five-year-tour across the nation, Many of the paintings on exhibit are owned by Cheech Marin who claims to have the world’s largest personal collection of Chicano art. Chicano Visions features about 50 works of art from nearly 30 artists. Their images are present and past images of the Chicano experience dating from 1969 to 2001.
According to Laysha Ward, director of community relations for the Target Corporation, “Chicano Visions is an unrivaled exhibit of Chicano art that shines a spotlight on a culture rich in values and tradition, yet a culture too often overlooked.”
Art Price, manager of Hewlett-Packard, is delighted to play a role in helping the public celebrate a slice of American life. The social, cultural and political impact of Chicano life has been a mainstay in America since the birth of our country, and this wonderful exhibit provides a real up-close look at the lives and contributions of the Chicano people.”
Curator Rene Yanez was the founder and former artistic director of the San Francisco, California’s Galeria de la Raza. His work promoting the Day of the Dead at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts were entitled “Rooms For the Dead” and “Labyrinth for the Dead.” These projects helped ignite an interest in promoting this Mexicano/Chicano traditional event.
In 1998, Rene received the Special Trustees Award in Cultural Leadership from the San Francisco Foundation. He has a history of curator for numerous exhibitions in both the United States and international exhibitions in Mexico at the Bellas Artes and Loteria Nacional Gallery in Mexico City. Rene has been on numerous panels for the California Arts Council and the National Endowments for the Arts. He served eight years as a founding board member of the San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery. He currently teaches at New College of California in San Francisco.
Rene Yanez also co-founded the Chicano performance trio Culture Clash. A series of videos will be part of the Chicano Now exhibit. Rene has included the works of numerous American Painters on the Verge. Featured artists include Carlos Almaraz. He and three other artists founded a local art collective in the community of Los Angeles, California, called Los Four. His work includes murals and United Farm Workers Union street art. He died in 1989.
In 1973, Carlos Almaraz, Gilbert “Magu” Lujan, Roberto de la Rocha and Frank Romero formed an art collective called Los Four. The University of California-Irvine presented an exhibition of the group in 1974 which led to exhibits in both L.A. and Oakland, California. Frank Romero designed a series of murals entitled the “The Murals of Aztlan.” His studio art has been included in other national projects such as “Contemporary Hispanic Art in the U.S. and C.A.R.A. Chicano Art: Resistance and Affirmation 1965-1985.”
Leo Limon was influenced by Los Four. He spent some time with Self Help Graphics. He helped establish the Aztlan Cultural Foundation Inc. He also worked with the Chicano Art Center and the Centro de Arte Publico. John Valadez with Carlos Almaraz, Frank Romero and Richard Durado were founding members of the Public Arts Center in Highland Park, California. It was organized to provide studio space and access to collaborative mural projects. In 1980, John Valadez was included in a group exhibition Espina at LACE Gallery, Los Angeles. He is best known for his work “The Broadway Mural,” which depicts life in downtown Los Angeles.
A group of mural painters active from 1979 to 1985 were called Los Streetscapers. George Yepes was a former member of this association. He has designed more than 30 public murals. He established the Academia de Arte Yepes, the first free mural academy for the young students in Los Angeles. Yepes has also designed an album cover for Los Lobos. David Botello was also part of Los Streetscapers with George Yepes and Rudy Calderon. He founded a Goez Art Studio and Gallery with Jose Luis and Juan Gonzalez. In 1975, Wayne Healy and David Botello left the gallery to paint murals. They renamed their partnership to East Los Streetscapers. Wayne Alaniz Healy has moved into multimedia work such as sculpture and tile making. His longtime friendship with David Botello began in the third grade. Their third grade teacher would be proud to know that her students’ artwork is now on national 15 city tour.
A Los Angeles-based Chicano artists collaborative that incorporated political activism was named ASCO (“nausea” in Spanish). Glugio “Gronk” Nicandro, Harry Gamboa, Jr., Willie Herron and Patssi Valdez participated. ASCO experimented with murals, posters, photographic montage, conceptual art and street performance. Patssi Valdez was awarded a $25,000 Durfee Artist Fellowship. In January 2001, she opened at the Mexican Museum in San Francisco with an exhibition entitled “Patssi Valdez: A Precarious Comfort.” Diane Gamboa has also done work with ASCO. Her work was also featured in the “Chicano Art: Resistance and Affirmation 1965-1985” national exhibition.
Rupert Garcia is a leading Chicano artist who works in oils and pastels. He helped found the Galeria de la Raza in San Francisco and the San Francisco Poster Workshop that promoted civil rights protests during the Vietnam War. Garcia authored a book about Frida Kahlo in 1983 entitled, “Frida Kahlo: A Bibliography and Biographical Introduction.” In 1995, he received the National Hispanic Academy of Media Arts and Sciences Lifetime Achievement Award in Art.
Esther Hernandez became involved with Las Mujeres Muralisatas, San Francisco’s first all Latina mural collective. Although she has worked as a muralist and painter she considers herself a printmaker. Her work was also featured in C.A.R.A. The child of farm workers, Esther was actively involved in the struggle for the rights of the campesinos. Her print of a calavera maid holding toxic grapes helped launch a national grape boycott. Esther has worked with disabled adults at San Francisco’s Creativity Explored. The Chicano Visions exhibit also highlights several artists from Texas: Melesio Casas, Gaspar Enriquez, Cesar Martinez, Jessie Trevino, Marta Sanchez, Vicente Valdez and Carmen Lomas Garza.
This is not the first Chicano Art exhibit nor will it be the last. Currently there are several other Chicano art projects in development from all corners of America. The theme of Chicanismo is no longer an exclusive California or Texas art form. We at Lowrider Arte Magazine receive thousands of submissions annually from Chicanos who have found their own vision and dream. We encourage and support Chicano artists to submit to us. Chicano arte magazines have helped launch many of these now nationally recognized artists. They were first were introduced to mainstream media via Chicano publications like Con-Safos Magazine, Q-Vo and Firme, as well ChismeArte Magazine back in the ’70s and ’80s. Lowrider Arte Magazine for more than 20 years has given support to the Chicano art genre. Chicano publishers helped form an audience and create an interest and demand for this Chicano arte expression. I welcome new Chicano artists and painters “on the verge” to pursue the dream and keep Chicano arte alive throughout the world.