Cheech Presents Los Angelenos
The entertainer's noted collection of Chicano art being presented at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art through November 2
Published on LatinoLA: June 25, 2008
Nearly fifty paintings by Los Angeles-based artists represented in Cheech Marin's noted collection of Chicano art are being presented at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), through November 2, 2008. Marin, the entertainer well known for his work in movies, television, and stand-up comedy, has been collecting art for more than twenty years, and has amassed one of the largest private collections of Chicano art. The exhibition, Los Angelenos/Chicano Painters of L.A.: Selections from the Cheech Marin Collection, includes a number of widely-exhibited works by such first-generation Chicano artists as Carlos Almaraz, Margaret Garcia, Gilbert ‘«£Magu‘«ō Luj?Ūn, Frank Romero, John Valadez, and Patssi Valdez, whose artistic careers began during the Chicano civil rights movement in the mid-1960s to mid-1970s, as well as works by such younger artists as Vincent Valdez and David Flury. Los Angelenos/Chicano Painters of L.A. is a Los Angeles-focused selection of Chicano Visions: American Painters on the Verge, an exhibition of the Marin collection that toured nationally between 2001 and 2007.
The Chicano art movement arose in California in response to the political, cultural, and labor causes of the period. Inspired by the struggles of migrant farm workers led by the late labor organizer Cesar Chavez, Chicanismo evolved into a general political and cultural revolution, stressing political self-empowerment, an assertion of cultural identity, and an affirmation of ethnic pride among Americans of Mexican heritage. Many first-generation Chicano artists were political activists creating posters, graphics, and murals in the monumental tradition. Others, including most of the artists in Los Angelenos/Chicano Painters of L.A., revealed Chicano experience through scenes of daily life in barrio neighborhoods, expressive portraiture, and surrealist-influenced "dreamscapes" with a keen psychological edge.
Among the highlights of the exhibition are: Carlos Almaraz's panoramic views of Los Angeles, such as California Natives (1988) in which the city is depicted as a paradise, suffused with a radiant magical aura, yet with danger and cataclysm always lurking; Gilbert "Magu" Luj?Ūn‘«÷s depictions of car culture and its devotees, as in Blue Dog (1990), which are often surrounded by figures with contemporary updates of characters drawn from pre-Colombian mythology, such as Trickster the Coyote; and the intimatelyscaled and deeply personal paintings of Patssi Valdez, like Little Girl With Yellow Dress (1995), which suggest memories of childhood or the haunting images of dreams. The exhibition‘«÷s title wall will also prove exceptional‘«ŲLACMA has commissioned Charles ‘«£Chaz‘«ō Boj??rquez, widely recognized as the first graffiti artist to bring the act of tagging from the street into the studio, to create the title wall at the entrance to the exhibition and to inscribe the participating artists' names on two architectural columns within the galleries.
Los Angelenos/Chicano Painters of L.A will be supplemented with select works from LACMA's own holdings, as well as several significant works from other area collectors. "Many historians acknowledge Southern California as the birthplace of Chicano art, and we are pleased to present these works at LACMA, where we have a special focus on Southern California art in both our exhibition and acquisition program," said Michael Govan, Wallis Annenberg Director and CEO of LACMA.
Cheech Marin said ‘«£It is especially gratifying to bring this collection to LACMA's large and diverse audience. Los Angelenos/Chicano Painters of L.A. provides an opportunity for the public to become better acquainted with numerous artists whose achievement enriches Chicano art, as well as the cultural life of Los Angeles."
Los Angelenos/Chicano Painters of L.A. will provide an important complement to another LACMA exhibition, Phantom Sightings: Art after the Chicano Movement, on view from April 6 through September 1, 2008. While Phantom Sightings primarily looks at very recent works created by Chicano artists who came to prominence in the 1990s and beyond, Los Angelenos/Chicano Painters of L.A. will largely feature work by firstgeneration Chicano artists who pioneered the Chicano art movement in the 1960s and '70s and whose cultural activism provided a legacy of Chicano artistic activity for others who came later.
Los Angelenos/Chicano Painters of L.A. will be presented as part of LACMA's ongoing Latino Arts Initiative established in conjunction with the Chicano Studies Research Center of the University of California (CRSC), Los Angeles. The collaborative effort capitalizes on the strengths of both institutions to create a greater understanding of Chicano and Latino arts and cultures for the wider public. The initiative began in 2004 with a five-year agreement between LACMA and CSRC that includes development of exhibitions, publications, educational activities, research projects, artistic collections, and community relations.
More information here. http://www.lacma.org/art/ExhibMarin.aspx