Patssi Valdez | Notes on Looking

Go Tell It on the Mountain, Papel Tejido, JC Muñoz Hernandez, East LA Photos, Paper Fashion, Ave 50 Chicanos & Brinco

Last weekend I had the opportunity to visit the studio of artist and curator Nery Gabriel Lemus.  Lemus, who was raised in Los Angeles by Guatemalan parents, combines fine art with social and political beliefs and bi-cultural issues.   Through his use of drawing, painting, installation and video, Lemus is able to discuss issues of stereotypes, immigration, poverty, domestic violence, and prejudice. Many of the works he shared with me revealed the division between African-Americans and Latinos, such as in his series Black is Brown and Brown is Beautiful which focuses on the prejudices Latinos have toward African Americans, and in his barber shop series Fallen Nature and the Two Cities, in which Lemus documents a stylized haircut shared between African Americans and Latinos. In his series Friction of Distance (which was shown at Steve Turner Gallery), Lemus juxtaposed and appropriated images to make the audience compare and contrast birds and humans as a way to challenge the issues of immigration. Fortunately you can check out Lemus’ current show, which he has curated at Charlie James Gallery.  But you have to hurry as it ends February 18th. Go Tell It on the Mountain appropriately opened during the weekend of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, as the show stems from the inspiration Lemus found in James Baldwin’s 1953 novel Go Tell It on the Mountain.  The novel reveals the double-sided role of the Christian church for African-Americans.  On one side, the church could be viewed as hypocritical and a vehicle to oppress people, whereas on the other side the church could be seen as a place for community and social awareness. ...

Notas de lo que veo

I feel honored to say that I was born on Whittier Blvd in 1974… the same year that Asco performed First Supper (After a Major Riot) on that same famous boulevard.  And here we are years later, in a city even more populated with Latinos celebrating Asco’s many performances as well as other Latino artists who have played a pivotal role in the LA art scene.  It’s amazing how PST has reminded everyone that Latinos have always been creating art.  But hasn’t Cheech Marin been saying this for a long time?   He definitely saw it many years ago and embraced it!  In 1972, Asco illegally tagged the outer walls of LACMA since Chicanos had not been included in an exhibition there.   Now they have legally tagged the inside.  This is the first retrospective that presents the wide-ranging work of this Chicano group, Harry Gamboa Jr., Gronk, Willie Herron, and Patssi Valdez, all from East Los. There is another comprehensive show called Mex/LA “Mexican” Modernism(s) in Los Angeles, 1930-1985 at the Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA) in Long Beach.  This show is also a reminder that Mexicans and Chicanos had been making incredible work that not only shaped LA but also impacted other art scenes nationally.  Included in the show are two play lists selected and annotated by Ruben Funkahuatl Guevara, courtesy of the Moses Mora and Josh Kun collections.  (I want to also mention that this museum throws great openings!  If you love Latin music, either traditional or modern, high quality Latin food, and tequila… then you’ve got to come to the next one!) And if that’s not...