Icons of the Invisible: Oscar Castillo

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© Courtesy of the Artist and Fowler Museum at UCLA
Icons of the Invisible: Oscar Castillo

North Campus
Los Angeles, CA 90095
September 25th, 2011 - February 26th, 2012
Opening: September 25th, 2011 12:00 PM - 5:00 PM

culver city/west la
Wed, Fri-Sun 12-5pm; Thurs 12-8pm


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."

Icons of the Invisible: Oscar Castillo

Since the late 1960s, photographer Oscar Castillo has documented the Chicano community in Los Angeles, from major political events to cultural practices to the work of muralists and painters. This exhibition presents rarely seen photographs from 1969–1980 considering major themes (social movement, cultural heritage, urban environment, and everyday barrio life) and approaches (photojournalism, portraiture, art photography) that have guided Castillo’s work.

These iconic images of the community run counter to the stereotypical or exotic images often circulated by the mass media and museums, and have been rarely seen over the last four decades. This exhibition of thirty-eight photographs, drawn from an on-line digital archive of more than 3,000 images by Castillo at the CSRC Library and a forthcoming book on Castillo through the CSRC series The Chicano Archives, brings many of them to the public for the first time.Originally from El Paso, Texas, Castillo arrived in Los Angeles at the age of sixteen and graduated from Belmont High School in 1963. Soon after, he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps (1964–1968) and was stationed in Japan and at the Marine Corps Air Station in El Toro, California. In 1969 he was among the first students to major in the newly formed Chicano Studies Program at San Fernando Valley State College (now California State University, Northridge), and he also signed on for a second major in the art program.

His work was published in movement-era publications including Con Safos, La Raza, and El Popo, and he also worked as a producer for the KCET program Acción Chicano.  In the late 1970s, he became a commercial photographer and is currently the official historian of Pico Rivera, California. In all of this photography, Castillo combines the thoroughness of a documentarian with an artist’s attention to framing and composition. Castillo continues his photographic practice to this day, expanding a complex and multifaceted visual archive of Chicano Los Angeles.

This exhibition is curated by Chon A. Noriega, Terezita Romo, and Pilar Tompkins Rivas.

Icons of the Invisible: Oscar Castillo is part of L.A. Xicano, is a unique collaboration between the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center and three major Los Angeles museums—the Autry National Center, the Fowler Museum at UCLA, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art—resulting in four interrelated exhibitions that explore the diverse artistic contributions of Mexican-descent artists since 1945. Together these exhibitions, featuring artists born from 1881 to 1983, present hundreds of rarely seen paintings, sculptures, drawings, posters, murals, and photographs, and provide the basis for a visual dialogue about Los Angeles and contemporary art through the twentieth century and into the twenty-first.

L.A. XICANO is part of Pacific Standard Time: Art in LA 1945-1980, an unprecedented collaboration of more than sixty cultural institutions across Southern California, which are coming together to tell the story of the birth of the LA art scene.  Initiated through grants from the Getty Foundation, Pacific Standard Time will take place for six months beginning October 2011.

Support for this exhibition comes from the Getty Foundation and the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.