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Chicano Art in Unlikely Conversations

Detail of “Quinceañera” by Carmen Lomas Garza, 2005The previous blog post titled Selections from the University Art Collection highlighted several art pieces donated to CSUN that illustrate the importance of the contemporary art and culture of Southern California. This post will focus on the giclée prints acquired from Cheech Marin, comedian, actor, writer, Chicano art collector, and CSUN alumnus. The prints highlight daily life activities through the lens of Chicano artists based in Los Angeles and Texas.

Cameron Lomas Garza is an artist that focuses on Mexican Americans' daily lives, memories, and experiences in Texas and California. A quinceañera is a common coming of age event of a young child’s fifteenth birthday. It is an event hosted by the child’s family beginning with a church ceremony and then continuing on to a formal event to end the celebration. Quinceañera highlights the church event with the arrival of the young child. In the piece the viewer can see common activities of the rest of their court who are dressed in pink dresses and suits. The piece depicts the usual activities of children playing, attendees walking in to the church, and friends and family in formal wear getting ready to go inside the church while the Quinceañera arrives.

Roberto Gutierrez created Rooftops over East L.A. depicting an East Los Angeles landscape with house-filled hills. At the bottom of the image the artist added a street vendor and a family walking on the sidewalk. It is a scene one would usually see in an East Los Angeles neighborhood while looking out from a window.

Frank Romero depicts The Arrest of the Paleteros with a stunning red orange and blue sunset in the background, lots of palm trees and a few buildings surrounding a lake. The viewer is taken to the calm scene of the sunset before taking you to the actual story of the piece. In the foreground, adults and children with their hands up are surrounded by police pointing their guns at them. There is also one vendor who is running away from a police officer holding a night stick. Romero is known for using vibrant colors and cars in his pieces, which are shown here, however the story is more intricate than that this time.

Ester Hernandez’s Astrid Hadad in San Francisco is pastel on paper of a live concert that the artist may have attended. The way the pastel was created gives the viewer a front row seat at this concert. Astrid Hadad is a Mexican actress and performance artist. Ester Hernandez captured Hadad’s performance and expression on stage by using the bright colors and live musicians that Hadad has used in many of her performances.

Though a couple of the pieces would not necessarily fall under everyday life, but more under portraits, the dress style and the activity shown by the artist highlight the culture and style of the time in which the pieces were created. Janine at 39, mother of twins, by Margaret Garcia, is a portrait of a woman who looks like she’s laying on a chair with red roses with a pink background. Behind the rose patterned cloth, we see a large cactus and agave plant, which are associated with the Mexican culture. Janine’s brown skin stands out in the foreground with all the bright colors surrounding her.

A triptych by Gaspar Enriquez, Tirando Rollo (I love you) is an image of the same woman holding floating spray painted “I” and “U” and a heart in the center. This woman is representative of the 90’s Chicano dress style, with baggy pants, patterned jacket, sneakers, and hair style. Enriquez is known for capturing the Chicano culture through portraits of Chicano community life through a particular style and feeling.

“Quinceañera” by Carmen Lomas Garza, 2005
“Rooftops over East L.A.” by Roberto Gutierrez, 2005
“The arrest of the Paleteros” by Frank Romero, 2005
“Astrid Hadad in San Francisco” by Ester Hernandez, 2005
“Janine at 39, mother of twins” by Margaret Garcia, 2005
“Tirando rollo (I love you)” by Gaspar Enriquez, 2005

Read more Peek in the Stacks blog entries