Barbara Carrasco was starving. She had just dropped off her husband, the artist Harry Gamboa Jr., at LAX and driven cross-town to meet me at their old hangout, Phillipe’s. As we sat down with French dip sandwiches and talked about her life and work I realized that underneath the easy laugh and unpretentious manner there was an incredible strength that had allowed her to travel from the projects of Mar Vista, to the halls of UCLA, to battle the sexism and racism from both the Anglo and Chicano communities, to work with Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta, to get her MFA at Cal Arts and to beat cancer. [Read more…]
Gusmano Cesaretti pulls a book off the shelf in his South Pasadena studio and hands it to me. The book is on Chaz Bojorquez, the Godfather of East L.A. graffiti. He opens the front cover and shows me where Chaz has written in beautiful stylish script, “To El más chingón. You started my career. Thank you. Chaz.” The story of how an Italian kid obsessed with American culture ended up documenting the birth of East L.A. graffiti culture is just one chapter in the crazy fairy-tale that is Cesaretti’s life. [Read more…]
Don’t call Victor Gastelum a stencil artist. Yes he wields an X-Acto blade like the Master of the Flying Guillotine, but long before Bansky was spraying 2-D cliches onto London walls, Victor was creating images that resonated like stills from an unknown film noir. It’s hard to remember now that there was a time when low riders and Mexican wrestlers were not in rap videos and beer commercials, but it was during those late 80’s and 90’s that Victor took the stuff of his childhood visual culture and created images that contain both literal and figurative depth. We sat in his studio in Long Beach and talked about his journey from making Punk flyers to working at SST Records and navigating the art world like Mr. Magoo. [Read more…]
It would be easy to say that the alternative histories portrayed in the works of Umar Rashid are perfectly timed to reflect the era of “alternative facts” taking place in this historical moment. But the truth is, if you are going to make art intended to talk, both directly and indirectly, about the oppression of people of color and the suppression of their history, there is no time in the modern era when the work would not seem timely.
As Frohawk Two Feathers, and now Umar Rashid, the artist re-imagines 18th century history in images that recall traditional portraiture, folk art and Native American art but updated with details from the contemporary world. The mash-up allows him to speak simultaneously about the past and the present, accompanied by a complicated written narrative that must be read to fully understand the work. [Read more…]
An Interview With Harry Gamboa Jr.
by Pancho Lipschitz
Harry Gamboa Jr. is best known as the co-founder of ASCO, the mas chingon performance art group to emerge from the 70’s and 80’s. But his post-ASCO output, in a wide variety of media, has continued to defy the boundaries of categorization and commodification. Working with a new group of performers he published the photo-novela Aztlángst 2, a poetic grito against corporate culture, constant wars, digital surveillance and the criminalization of “others”. [Read more…]