A Living Installation

Jane Castillo brings together Chicano and Latino visual artists for historic group photo at LACMA

By As told to Abelardo de la Pe??a Jr
Published on LatinoLA: July 16, 2000

A Living Installation

"Early this year I heard that the African American art community took a group photo at their Exposition Park museum. It sent a message to the museum. 'Here we are!' Other artists have done it informally, at parties, but never in an organized way, as far as I know.The whole point of the [LAVA - Los Angeles Visual Artists] project is to have a photograph in our archive to be accurate for our children. I felt that it needed to be done at the beginning of this century. I talked to people to spread the word, sent e.mails. I was able to connect with more people that way. The E-vite [website-based invitation and tracking service at www.evite.com.] was very good, it did a big task for me. It's an awesome resource, it just took care of itself. It's amazing how people organized [before], without the Internet! Between that and word of mouth and placing printed invitations in strategic places, like the Latino Museum, all that combined just helped tremendously. But the easiest was electronic. Kim Grisco was the photographer. We met as undergrads at CSU Fullerton. She is the best and did a great job. She is very cool. We had 78 artists in attendance. Artists traveled from as far as Santa Barbara, San Bernardino, Laguna Beach and every place in-between. Magu was there, [as were] Irene Cervantez, Margaret Garcia, Yolanda Gonzalez, Eloy Torres, Leo Limon, Alfredo de Batuc, Guillermo Bejarano. It was trans-generational, with artists from all age ranges, For young people, it was great to be around people who came there before us. A real magical moment in uniting for a great moment in time. It was a magical moment to have us all gathered together. I want to make this a resource for historians and professors. We hope that publications pick it up. Self Help Graphics has requested it for its archive. I myself am an installation artist. I like to work on large scale, mainly working with synthetic and real hair. For me, the LAVA photo shoot was like a living installation." Jane Castillo can be reached at LAVASHOOT@aol.com.

Comments from the participants
Sergio Hernandeez writes: "It was a beautiful day and a festive event. I saw many old friends and made new ones. My wife, myself and friends topped it off with dinner at Cantors. What a day!"
Chaz Bojorquez writes: "On a clear day, you can see Chicanos forever....."
Rebeca Guerrero writes: "It was great to see so many familiar faces at once. A unique experience. I am looking forward to do it again in the future... I thank you again for taking the initiative."
Alma Cervantez writes: "My childhood was filled with the beautiful and inspirational mural art created by many of the artist that I joined in the LAVASHOOT. I have to thank them for the fulfillment I found in my own work."
Rose Portillo writes: "Documentation is vital to any artistic community and I so appreciate being included in this effort. It was wonderfulo to be among so many friends whose work I so admire and respect. I look forward to familiarizing myself with the work of other artists who were present. It was great to feel 'Present and Accounted For,' if you know what I mean. Presente!"
Rudy Calderon writes: "It's always great to see so many colleagues and friends in one place as well as seeing and meeting new ones! It would be very cool to see a sample of work from everyone present at the photo shoot in your website."
Raul Audelo writes: "I feel that this was a very important day for Chicano/Latino artists in California. We are a unique set of artists with special interests and expereiences. WE are the future of Southwest art scene and therefore must realize that it is vital for us to maintain a steady stream of communication. This can be done through wonderful events such as the photo shoot, but must continue with events for us the artists, and also events for our people, who are the inspiration of many of our works. I look forward to see your wonderful faces in the future. Paz, respeto, y amor."
Vibiana Chamberlin writes: "Felicidades to Jane and the LAVA Shoot crew. I was pleased to be there because there were so many women present and because artists of all ages were well represented. I was born and raised in East Los Angeles and I am proud to be a Los Angelina, painting, printmaking and building altar installations out of my studio in Pasadena and out of Self Help Graphics in the heart of East L.A. I am also a Resource Specialist for L.A. Schools And I integrate art into my curriculum to effectively teach at risk students how to read and write. Recently I built an installation, titled "La Llorona on the L.A. River" for the River Visions exhibition sponsored by the Arroyo Arts Collective. I am currently exhibiting in "El Carrito Show" in Pomona throughout July and August. In this exhibition, curated by Magu, and titled 1Art as a Cultural Vehicle,' I am showing a baby bassinette on wheels. I dedicate this altar on wheels to deceased children. It is collaged with newspaper documentation and baby bottles containing stories of children slain from guns. Thanks to Jane, Richard and LAVA for your efforts. It was great getting out on the grass charlando con todos. It was important to stand up and be counted. This photo documentation was like a millennium census de artistas Chicanos-Latinos."
Margaret Garcia writes: "There seems to be so little support for artists in this town. I am glad to see any positive action taken to bring attention to the talents of our community. Artists often struggle in isolation doing what they do because of a calling. Often asked to donate their works for charities that benefit everything from homeless mothers with AIDS, Free Clinic, Education, American Heart, etc., etc., etc. Often being among the poorest. Perhaps the public expects that to be what is the norm. Though revenue can be lost in tourism dollars (The Millienium Celebration being a prime example).The ARTS help spark the creative mind in our children and helps cultivate intelligence. Support your local Artist."
Rosa M. writes: "The photo shoot was very worthwhile and indeed historic. I'm sorry that there weren't more people. I know there are a lot more artists out there then appeared for the shoot. The whole amphitheatre should've been filled. I fear there is a lack of sharing information and resources in our community of Latino/Chicano artists. Many years ago I saw a Carlos Almaraz painting at LACMA. I'll never forget it as long as I live. It was an image of two coyotes or dogs fighting over a bone in a vast desert. I fear it applies to our community of artists because there are so little resources open to us. I did meet someone new, Gina Goldman, the niece of Maria Felix. We sat together in the lower row. I introduced her to as many people as possible, for I too am considered an outsider, having spent the 70's and early 80's in Rhode Island and because I live in Orange County. At any rate it was fun, like a high school reunion, seeing people I hadn't seen in several years."
Gilbert "Magu" Lujan writes: "I believe it should be done every year or so, to allow for the word to spread and enjoy greater participation. Every artist should get a copy of the principal results or best picture for the effort of spending the time and energy to attend. The release form was written by someone who is morbidly and over-exercising decent (equitable to Artist and producers) legal rights. The wording was alarming, and had an anti-artist considerations. It was great to see all my colleagues and talk if just for a few minutes. I love mi Raza artistica."

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