Fowler Museum to Host Two Exhibitions about the History of
Chicano Art in Los Angeles
Part of the unprecedented collaboration initiated by the Getty, Pacific Standard Time, and the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center’s L.A. Xicano
In the fall of 2011 the Fowler Museum will present two exhibitions that explore the diverse contributions of Chicano artists to Los Angeles's artistic development in the 1970s: Icons of the Invisible: Oscar Castillo (September 25, 2011–February 26, 2012) and Mapping Another L.A.: The Chicano Art Movement (October 16, 2011–February 26, 2012).
"These two exhibitions give a palpable sense of the expansive cultural presence of the Chicano community that emerged at the end of the 1960s," says Chicano Studies Research Center (CSRC) director Chon Noriega, one of the curators of theL.A. Xicano project. "One is struck by the aesthetic range of the artwork, informed by both a bicultural sensibility and a critical engagement with art history, and unified by the artists' ongoing commitment to art-based community making."
Mapping Another L.A.: The Chicano Art Movement
Beginning with the establishment of the first Chicano art gallery in 1969 in East Los Angeles, Chicano artists launched a collective re-imagining of the urban landscape through photography, graphic arts, murals, and large-scale architectural plans, as well as through painting, sculpture, installation, and drawing. While their approach was collective in spirit, and undertaken in the context of the Chicano civil rights movement, these artists engaged in varied and debated positions on aesthetics, media, ideology, and the social or community function for their art. Their work was at once local, identity-based, and global in orientation, exploring the uncharted spaces between Mexican tradition, Chicano vernacular, and American modernism.
This exhibition immerses visitors in this era by mapping the diverse social networks among Chicano artist groups and art spaces in Los Angeles during the 1970s. These include Asco, Centro de Arte Público, Los Dos Streetscapers, Goez Art Studios and Gallery (Goez), Los Four, Mechicano Art Center, Plaza de la Raza, Self Help Graphics and Art, and the Social Public Art Resource Center (SPARC), comprised of artists David Botello, Barbara Carrasco, Richard Duardo, Harry Gamboa, Jr., Gronk, Wayne Healy, Judithe Hernández, Willie Herrón, Gilbert "Magu" Sánchez Luján, Frank Romero, Patssi Valdez, Linda Vallejo, and many others.In showing how these artists mapped another L.A.—as part of a social protest and community empowerment movement—the exhibition presents little-seen work and documentation that reveal a complex history of the artists as they both navigated and imagined the social spaces of Los Angeles.
Produced largely during the 1970s, the artworks in this exhibition are selected and organized to “map” the diverse ways in which these groups created cultural visibility, first through the reclaimed use of public space, then through a broad range of aesthetic principals, public exhibitions, and statements on the role of the artist. The exhibition then explores the intersections between artist groups, their use of “style” as a political and artistic strategy, and the new beginnings as the artists and art groups entered the 1980s.
Installed at the entrance to the exhibition is one of the first Chicano murals in Los Angeles, which presided over the facade of Goez and The East L.A. School of Mexican American Fine Arts in East Los Angeles (TELASOMAFA) from 1971–81. The mural (left), which has been in storage for thirty years and was conserved for this exhibition, spans some 33 feet and was designed by Johnny D. Gonzalez, founder of TELASOMAFA, and painted by nearly a dozen artists.
Influenced by his travels in Europe, Gonzalez borrowed the compositional strategy that Michelangelo used inside the Medici tombs, but also drew upon the aesthetic approach of the Mexican muralists who integrated site architecture into their murals. Thus, Gonzalez placed the two figures—Cortez and Malinche, representing the cultural origins of Chicano art—as if they were lying on the window frames.
At the other end of the gallery the portable mural Uprising of the Mujeres created in 1979 by Judith F. Baca offers a feminist perspective while serving as an allegory of Baca’s experiences studying in Mexico. In 1977 she spent six weeks at the Taller Siqueiros in Mexico City, training with a group of Mexican and Chicano artists. She was the only woman at the taller, one of the few female muralists in the Chicano community, and one of the few Latinas in the women’s movement.
Amidst hundreds of other objects on display inMapping Another L.A., one will be able to see video and film footage of mural painting and performance art, a wide array of graphic styles from across the art groups, and early works prior to the start of the Chicano art movement. The final work visitors will encounter is Carlos Almaraz's paintingBeach Trash Burning, 1982. A member of Los Four, Almaraz incorporated political messages into his work, producing written manifestos and activist murals and graphics. Later, when working with the artists in the Centro de Arte Público, he developed a distinct studio style. In Beach Trash Burning, Almaraz turns his focus to the urban landscape around him.
Additionally, to engage a cross-generational dialogue, contemporary artists Ana Serrano (Los Angeles, California, b. 1983), Arturo Romo-Santillan(Los Angeles, California, b. 1980) and Reyes Rodriguez (Tijuana, Mexico, b. 1957) have created installations in the gallery that reflect on the works of, respectively, Los Four, Asco, and Mechicano. Kathy Mas-Gallegos, artist and director of Avenue 50 Studio, will explore the continuing legacy of community-based art in an exhibition and related programs at the Highland Park gallery.
These two Fowler exhibitions are part of a collaboration with the CSRC called L.A. Xicano, which examines crucial dimensions of Chicano history through four interrelated exhibitions at the Autry National Center, Fowler Museum, and Los Angeles County Museum of Art. All of these exhibitions are also part of Pacific Standard Time. This unprecedented collaboration, initiated by the Getty, brings together more than sixty cultural institutions from across Southern California for six months, beginning in October 2011, to tell the story of thebirth of the L.A. art scene. Pacific Standard Time is an initiative of the Getty. The presenting sponsor is Bank of America.
"The diversity of U.S. Latino art and culture requires the kind of multi-institutional collaboration signaled by L.A. Xicano," says Marla C. Berns, Shirley & Ralph Shapiro Director of the Fowler Museum. "We are proud to contribute to this effort as part of the Fowler's ongoing commitment to the Latino and Chicano communities of Los Angeles, not just as audience members, but as vital tributaries of global arts and cultures."
L.A. Xicano is curated by Chon A. Noriega, director of the CSRC; Terezita Romo,an independent curator and scholar and program officer for arts and culture at the San Francisco Foundation; and Pilar Tompkins Rivas, arts project coordinator at the CSRC, director of the Latin American branch of the Artist Pension Trust, and an independent curator. Noriega and Rivas are the lead curators for Icons of the Invisible: Oscar Castillo and Mapping Another L.A.: The Chicano Art Movement.
L.A. Xicano is also the title of a forthcoming book about the four exhibitions. Edited by Chon A. Noriega, Terezita Romo, and Pilar Tompkins Rivas, with essays by Karen Mary Davalos, Harry Gamboa Jr., Sandra de la Loza, Chon A. Noriega, Pilar Tompkins Rivas, Terezita Romo, and Reina Alejandra Prado Saldivar, it is published by the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center Press and
distributed by University of Washington Press (hardcover; 240 printed pages; 185 color and 47 black and white illustrations, ISBN: 978-0-89551-145-4, $39.95).
Support for these exhibitions comes from the Getty Foundation, the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, and the California Community Foundation. Conservation of The Birth of Our Art was made possible through generous support from the Ralph M. Parsons Foundation, and Elyse S. and Stanley J. Grinstein.Additional conservation support was provided by the Walt Disney Company, Armando Durón, Kathleen McHugh, Ricardo Muñoz, Terezita Romo, David Valdés, and Tamar Diana Wilson. Other support for L.A. Xicano comes from the Annenberg Foundation.
The UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center(CSRC) was founded in 1969 andhousesa library and special collections archive, an academic press, community partnerships, competitive grant/fellowship programs, and research funds dedicated to the study of Spanish-language music and culture, art history, education, and urban poverty.CSRC public programs and exhibitions have reached audiences across the U.S. and in Latin America
The Fowler Museum at UCLAis one of the country’s most respected institutions devoted to exploring the arts and cultures of Africa, Asia and the Pacific, and the Americas. The Fowler is open Wednesdays through Sundays, from noon to 5 p.m.; and on Thursdays, from noon until 8 p.m. The museum is closed Mondays and Tuesdays. The Fowler Museum, part of UCLA Arts, is located in the north part of the UCLA campus. Admission is free. Parking is available for a maximum of $11 in Lot 4. For more information, the public may call 310/825-4361 or visit fowler.ucla.edu.