Monday, August 24, 2009

Moratorium Revisited

If you can imagine what it feels like to watch the legendary Willy Herrón install a monumental 7' x 10' painting on the wall at your own space, then you get a sense for how last month unfolded. If meeting Joan Jett was like being in the company of rock stardom, opening a show with impassioned political work spanning three generations of Chicano and Mexicano artists that includes Herron's Munch-worthy painting of a tormented figure lifted from a photo of the actual Chicano Moratorium and celebrating my birthday with him and a slew of the city's best poets and art activists just a few days later was been like finding myself at home in a majestic galaxy that outshines Eta Carinae, long a contender for the Milkway's brightest sun. At this juncture, it is appropriate to credit Pete Galindo at the Federal Art Project, who debut the Herrón piece earlier this summer at a retrospective for the artist.

The opening of the "Chican@ Resistance & Revolution" exhibition was a powerful reminder of all that movimiento art and activism stood for and should continue to stand for. Maritza Alvarez, 13 Visions Productions cinematographer/photographer as well as member of the Mujerez de Maiz collective, stole the show for me with poetic black-and-white portraits depicting indigenous women, but references to the MacArthur Park melee where police used undue force on people in a stand-out painting by Wenceslao Quiroz harkened back to the 1970 and 1971 clashes between peaceful protesters and law enforcement agents and drew uncanny parallels..

In the process, we managed to whip out another issue of the paper with John Carlos de Luna's monochromatic image of Rubén Salazar on the cover. So the sharpest (and meatiest according to Random Hero) issue to date is currently filtering out into the East Side environs. The twin wedding day stories by Brandy Maya Healy Maramba and bass player Joey Maramba made the wait worthwhile. We closed the show on the Moratorium anniversary and were honored to have Carlos Montes and Elena Dominguez, both original LA-area Brown Berets, in the audience, after which Galería Brooklyn & Boyle was host to the filming of a new video for retro-cabaret, border-straddling lounge act Santos de Los Angeles. We were almost in overdrive at that point, but I still managed to slip into the Federal Art Project gallery for "Burn," a show of hauntingly sad, but still very disturbing images by Vincent Valdez, a young brother who wields a Vermeer-meets-Crumb paintbrush with deadly force. Valdez is, like me, a Tex-Mexile transplant who is just at home on LA's East Side as he is at San Anto's quintessential Bar America, the gateway to that city's South Side. Pete Galindo is on the leading edge of the burgeoning downtown LA art scene and a former SPARC staffer, so he knows Chicano art better than most. The show is the perfect allegory for the hottest side of the summer and the incendiary mountains that surrounded us with plumes of thick, black smoke for weeks as a result.

About our current exhibition, "Neo-Indigenismo," I can only say you don't know what you're missing. Curated in conjunction with the CASA 0101 production of Thy Kingdom Come, an ambitious new play set during the conquista, the show features new work by Aztlan Underground's Joe "Peps" Galarza, a striking Zapata portrait by John Carlos de Luna in his inimitable style, and of course, a piece titled "Martian Nopal" by maestro Sergio Hernández, who while at Con Safos magazine in the early '70s, published and illustrated raúlrsalinas' epic paean "Un Trip Through the Mind Jail," this while the vato everyone now calls the original Xicanindio poet was still doing prison time. I would be remiss of I didn't mention Arturo Urista, who has come out of a hiding to support Brooklyn & Boyle by showing his newest and most exciting work with us. It's also important to mention work by Francisco T. Norazagaray, Dolores González Haro, Sonji, Raul González from Mictlan Murals and his camarada Ricardo Estrada, the latter two artists being gifted neighborhood cats who believing in taking art to the streets and the people. And, of course, Maritza Alvarez, whose photos were so good, I had to show two of them again.

Tonight, we premier a new music video featuring bandleader leader Big Joe Hurt, directed by Victor Parra, yet another Tex-Mexile who seems more Angelino than otherwise. Come see the play at CASA 0101 and stay for the free live music and video presentation at Brooklyn & Boyle! (Image Above: "Burn" by Vincent Valdez)

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