Brooklyn & Boyle is pleased to announce the upcoming publication of our very first Annual César E. Chávez Memorial Tribute issue. Our March 2014 issue will commemorate a true American hero who worked tirelessly his entire life to help improve the lives of the working people who harvested and continue to harvest the crops that wind up on our tables.

We invite our readers to look for the magazine when it goes to press in mid-March. It will deliver histories, images, poems and stories that reflect a leader we must always remember and emulate. It will, as well, offer an update on the work being done by the UFW Foundation today as well as testimonies by those who knew him. We are proud to dedicate the pages of LA's Latino arts, culture and community monthly to a great man who inspired and moved us all with his humble dignity, a dignity he fought to preserve for the least of us, for the forgotten, for the displaced, the dispossessed and the voiceless. Like Chávez, we must always remember to stand up for those who are rarely represented, but upon whose backs this nation has been built.

We also invite our advertisers, elected officials, community leaders, community-based organizations and businesses to participate with a message honoring March 31st, his birthday, as an officially designated holiday, worthy of our recognition, commemoration and celebration. Your message may take the form of a display ad. All materials in support of your advertising message must be received by Monday, March 10th at 5pm. We look forward to working with you in an effort to make the Annual Brooklyn & Boyle César Chávez Memorial Tribute issue a remarkable piece of living history and a document worthy of all our best creative energies. Contact us below for more information on how to participate.

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Brooklyn & Boyle
Art & Life on the Greater East Side
2623 Medford St., Unit B - 8
Los Angeles, CA 90033
213-321-7115
by Abel M. Salas

Recently staged at Casa 0101, A Cat Named Mercy is not always an easy production to watch. The play, a newly penned drama by Josefina López, written in her signature cine-teatro form, brings us to the brink, literally, of death and beyond. It is no small feat. Staged with aplomb and a veteran director’s subtle hand by Hector Rodriguez, the two-act show is laden with heavy, contemporary issues.

Elder care, immigration, undocumented and uninsured elders, the denial of health insurance to those with pre-existing conditions, assisted suicide, and sexual abuse in the home are all addressed with a keen sense of wit and theatricality, that zig zags through a maze of troubling, sometimes hard-to-stomach and always hard-hitting material.

In an ironic twist on the play’s title, López offers no quarter or mercy, but she is never so completely heavy-handed that it becomes unbearable. The drama unfolds with beauty and sadness, with bold truths and implacable hope. At the center of the story are Catalina Rodriguez, a cheerful sweetheart who works as a nurse’s aide in a convalescent home, and a mystical cat she comes to call Mercy.
Delivered with heartbreaking, uncanny realism by Alex Ximenez, Catalina’s optimism and genuinely good nature are severely tested as the production pushes forward, threatening to spiral out of control into melodrama or even, perhaps, farce. Fortunately, Rodríguez is able to reign in all those possibilities and turn them into strengths, culling performances from his actors that merit notice all around.

At once tender and soul-shattering, A Cat Named Mercy is López and Rodriguez at their best, working in the context of a collaboration that is at least a decade old. The nuanced rigor that informs their working partnership is evident, especially in the characterizations and fleshing out of the vividly memorable roles written into the script. More than a dark comedy about health care, it tell the truth about our times.

The fluid ensemble nature of the play is no surprise. Many among the troupe are also long-time López collaborators. Carmelita Maldonado, as such, is luminous in three very distinct roles. Newcomer Blanca Araceli as Catalina’s blind and increasingly ill, undocumented mother, has created a character that is absolutely riveting. The culturally diverse cast includes French-Filipina Minerva Mier, who first comes on as the hard-ass supervising nurse and later becomes Catalina’s biggest defender. In all, 14 actors play 33 roles. The lyrical score and sound design by Bill Reyes is seamless. And the fluid set by Marco De Leon allow the actors to move from a senior convalescent center to a small cramped apartment to a dispatcher’s booth, to childhood and the afterlife with ease.


Medford St. Studios, home to Brooklyn & Boyle, Factory Tattoo artist/inkslinger Luis "Chango" Huffington, artist/inkslinger Erick "Scud" Brenes, fine artist Richard Valdes, the Visions Crew (LAs underground graf stars) and Sierra Leone-reared Sheku Kowai, welcomes you to our first-ever open house.

The open house will feature a special limited edition print release and signing of "Night Fall on Brooklyn" by Brooklyn & Boyle February cover artist Michael Rascón. A special spoken word blessing/offering will be delivered by Francisco Escamilla AKA The Bus Stop Prophet Pre-order/reserve your 20" x 26" fine art Rascón print by emailing brookynandboyle@gmail.com for pricing and information. Only 100 signed and numbered prints will be released.

Come celebrate the forgotten corner of Boyle Heights with wall-writers, word-smiths and ink-slingers. And join us as well as we applaud artist Fernando Barragan, who has just completed a mural at Plaza de la Raza as the first of ten murals being sponsored by Red Bull through their #latagrafica community artist engagement initiative.


Abel Salas
Editor/Publisher
Brooklyn & Boyle
213-321-7115
For the first time in history the Boyle Heights Salesian football team takes home a championship. Photo by Tom Varela



by Thomas Varela

The bar has been raised at Bishop Mora Salesian High School as the Mustangs ploughed through the Northeast section of the CIF Division XIII play-offs to capture their first ever football championship. Salesian had the home field advantage for the game that was played at their Soto Street at Whittier Boulevard campus on Saturday, December 7th. From the opening kick-off the Mustangs played with focus and purpose testing their opponent, Mission Prep High School, from San Luis Obispo.

It was a lively and exciting first quarter as both squads were busy scrambling after fumbles punts and QB sacks until nerves were quelled and sophomore sensation, Felipe Mesa, broke off a 61 yard run and a couple of plays later the quarter ended with a 0-0 draw and the Mustangs knocking on the door at the Warriors eight-yard line.

A minute and 35 seconds into the second quarter the Mustangs struck first and never let up as defense and offense worked in tandem to dominate the Warriors. Mission Prep followed with a three and out series and punted to the Mustangs who quickly struck through the air to receiver Kelly for a 63 yard streak to pay dirt and a 13-0 lead. Once again the Warriors could not break the poised defense of Salesian and had to punt the ball away.  Three minutes and ten seconds after the previous score, the Mustangs once again went to the air for a 42 touchdown run that caused the capacity crowd of nearly 2,000 mostly Salesian High School fans to roar in approval as by then everyone could feel the championship run coming to fruition.

The ensuing kick-off only helped to cement a sense of the inevitable as the Warriors flubbed the catch allowing the Mustangs to recover the fumble on Mission Prep’s 32-yard line. Salesian’s game worked its way into the frazzled and beat heads of the opponent who could not withstand the onslaught of a team that performed with its eye on the prize and would not be denied. The fervor from the stands cascading onto the field was electric. The interplay of energy between the team and fans was palpable as it mounted to a crescendo of cheers conducive to a jolly atmosphere worthy of a championship game.

The second half was a little more competitive as Mission Prep contained Salesian to one score in the third when Marques Ware caught a 20-yard pass for a touchdown. The final score was a 34-0 thrashing of the Warriors, who had defeated the Mustangs the prior year.  And notably, Felipe Mesa continued to dazzle the fans as he patiently searched his way down field always turning inward instead of running out of bounds to find open field down the middle.
With 33.6 seconds left the Mustangs lined up for the victory formation and the overwhelmingly blue and white garbed fans burst into celebration.  An exuberant contingent of students ran onto the north end of the field to exult in their delight before heeding the call to vacate the field so that the award presentation could be made. Meantime, the victory bell had been wheeled in and rung.  It certainly must have been a long and quiet ride back to San Luis Obispo for the Warriors whose sole consolation was the runner up plaque to take home.

“It was a long time coming,” said Ray Covarrubias from the class of 2003, referring to the capture of the championship title that had been eluding the Mustangs for a couple of years as they inched closer to this victorious evening.

An argument can be made that this victory was won the prior week when the Mustangs defeated back to back defending champions, Rio Hondo Prep (from Arcadia), in a close contest that was also played at the Boyle Heights campus. Rio Hondo threatened to tie the game with one minute and 14 seconds left in the third quarter when a sloppy hike caused a missed extra point.
First year head coach, Angelo Jackson, who served as assistant for four years, led the Mustangs to an 11-2 record after going 8-2 in league.

When the Mustangs hoist their first CIF-SS Football Championship banner at Salesian High School’s gymnasium, it will be displayed alongside other CIF-SS banners now displayed for soccer, cross country and most recently the 2009 volley ball championship.

It was a good 2013 for the Mustang sports program, as the cross country team placed third in state at Fresno in CIF-SS, Division 4 and with Thomas Navarro placing a competitive 7th overall. All this success for the Boyle Heights campus of Bishop Mora Salesian High School was more than apparent among parents and students at the school's annual Open House, held on January 12, 2014.



DEAR WISE LATINA,
I just had a baby and I’m wondering at what age I should start talking to my child about sex?

CURIOUS MOTHER

DEAR CURIOUS MOTHER,
Start speaking to your child about sex as soon as your child starts asking about his or her body and how babies are born... (Never wait to speak to them about it because they may be the ones having to speak to you about sex and the trouble they’re in.) The earlier you talk to them with a positive attitude the sooner they’ll get the message that sex is natural and their bodies are perfectly fine.
When my sons were 6 and 4 they wanted to know how babies are born.  In the simplest way I explained without any shame or awkwardness. They were so delighted to know how simple it was and now they know they can ask me anything like, “Mommy, when did you have your period?” When my son asked me I was happy to tell him. He knew he could trust me to tell him the truth and it would be no big deal.

Children learn to be ashamed of their bodies from their parents, so if you have any sexual hangups or don’t like your body, work on releasing any shame now and loving your body so that your child doesn’t unconsciously pick up all the negative messages adults tend to give out to their children. Talking about sex is awkward because parents pretend that it’s fine, but their bodies and everything else is communicating that there is something wrong and children can see through the hypocrisy.

DEAR WISE LATINA,
I am auditioning for the part of a Psychic for a new show, what tips can you give me to help me play a believable Psychic?

ASPIRING ACTRESS

DEAR ASPIRING ACTRESS,
Remember that all Mediums are psychic, but not all psychics are mediums... So decide which spiritual gift(s) your character has. For instance our five regular senses can be magnified and you can have clairvoyance - clear seeing - Clairaudience - clear hearing. Then there’s the ability to get psychic clues through taste and smell. There’s also the ability to feeling things with a clarity to come from the spiritual realm. There’s clear knowing and kinesthetic ability - moving things with your mind... So decide what gifts your psychic character has... Very few psychics have all the gifts. Mediums can not talk to ghosts only spirits that have crossed and some psychics can’t talk to spirits that have crossed into the light only ghosts that are stuck. Some psychics allows themselves to be possessed by a spirit in order to channel and many psychics don’t... Good luck with the audition. 

DEAR WISE LATINA,
I want to know about my future and I don’t want to throw away my money by going to a fraud. How do you know if a Psychic is for real?

SMART CHICA

DEAR SMART CHICA,

A real psychic who has good ethics always asks for permission to look into your aura and energy field or Akashic Records (the written history of your soul’s journey).  So if you have a random person coming up to you telling you they are psychic and revealing stuff from your future or a past life tell them to stop.  They are probably a fake or an unethical psychic. If a psychic tells you that you have a dark shadow over you and that no one else can remove it but them for $1,000 or some large amount, and if you don’t do it you will die or remained cursed - stop the reading and go home. Anyone who says that they’re the only ones who can do it are frauds.

Only God can truly help you, but there are many healers who can help.  Also, a real psychic or healer will never tell you when you’re going to die because you have free will and can change it... Your soul knows when it’s time to go, so if you’re soul doesn’t want to die, no matter what a psychic says, it won’t. Also, you don’t need a psychic if you are willing to trust your gut.  Your Higher Self is always trying to guide you. So if you want guidance just ask for it when you are sitting still or when you are about to fall asleep.  our dreams can also guide you if you ask for that guidance.

Josefina Lopez is the Artistic Director of CASA 0101 Theater as well as the award-winning screenwriter and playwright of Real Women Have Curves who has been researching the paranormal for many years.  She is also a Reiki Master, a Life Coach and a hypnotherapist, NLP, Time Line Therapy practitioner and a Divine Peace Healer. Most importantly she has made so many mistakes that she has learned important lessons from them and has become wise. Her new book 8 Ways to Say I Love My Life is now available on Amazon.
Greetings/Feliz Año!

Our upcoming Día de Los Enamorados/Día de la Amistad/Valentine's Day issue will include, for the first time ever, a special section devoted to personal notes and dedications. As a special way to remember someone you care for or to simply say "I love you," Brooklyn & Boyle is making a 2-inch, single column-width space available for only $10.

Of course, business owners, agencies and community-based organizations are still also welcome to inquire about display advertising rates for special Valentine's Day promotions, specials and/or events. Our February cover will feature a brilliant new painting by Michael Rascón, whose work conveys all the beauty and power and triumph of the East Side art's community.



With kind appreciation for your continued support.

Abel Salas
Editor/Publisher
Brooklyn & Boyle @ Medford Street Studios
2623 Medford Street, Unit B - 8
Los Angeles, CA 90033



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Abel Salas
Editor/Publisher
Brooklyn & Boyle



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Abel Salas
Editor/Publisher
Brooklyn & Boyle
2623 Medford St., Unit B
Los Angeles, CA 90033
213.321.7115
Join us this Sunday for a HOTEL MARIACH: Urban Space and Cultural Heritage in Los Angeles book signing with the authors. The event will be held at Libros Schmibros from 12 - 3pm on Mariachi Plaza during the 23rd Annual Mariachi Festival in Boyle Heights. We hope to see you there. Pick up your latest edition of Brooklyn & Boyle while you're there. Here's the review I've written.
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Hotel Mariachi: Urban Space and Cultural Heritage in Los Angeles is a book that operates in a critical and pivotal nexus. It could not be more necessary, urgent, timely or beautiful if it tried. At once scholarly and a divinely inspired treatise on the art and culture of mariachi, the book is also a love letter to the ghosts of mariachi music and the city of Los Angeles, historic Boyle Heights and those itinerant musicians who have yet to arrive.

Part family history, part literary and photo-documentary as well as a sterling work of ethno-musicology, Hotel Mariachi brings together the family memoir, a glittering portfolio of photographs in homage to the humble musicians who have plied their trade from the famed Mariachi Plaza for over half a century and a serious, in-depth study of mariachi as a musical form unto itself through a look at the annual celebration in honor of every musician’s patron saint, Santa Cecilia.

As important as all those elements are, they could not have coalesced without Kurland’s love for architecture and the efforts by so many, including staff and executive leadership at East Los Angeles Community Corporation, to preserve the cultural legacy of Boyle Heights while creating affordable housing stock. The book, as a result, posits the well-supported theory that mariachi and Los Angeles are lassoed together as much as the country of Mexico and the regal musical form that has come to define all things Mexican are bound.

In the process, Catherine López Kurland uncovers her family history, it’s connection to the birth of Los Angeles as a city and the de-Mexicanization of her past as a result of a belief that being a descendant of Spanish “Californios” was somehow superior to status as a person of mixed indigenous and African heritage. Imagine the surprise and shock among the families who claim roots among the early settlers when they realized that the original “Angelenos” were mulattoes and mestizos.
In her essay tracing the rise, eventual decline and then the Phoenix-like resurrection of the Boyle Hotel, Kurland does not gloss over the fictional fantasy created in the homes of her forebears. In that family revision of actual history, a gallant, horseback “caballero,” sailed all the way around the tip of Argentina, up the Pacific and into the Los Angeles River Basin directly from Spain. The simple truth was that on one side of her family tree were landed Mexican homesteaders and on the other were Anglo settlers who married into Mexican families as much for convenience as for love.

It was one such union that resulted in the partitioning of the land around and below the “White Bluffs,” or as it was known then, “El Paredón Blanco.” This led to the development of the Boyle Heights that we have all come to know and love, the Boyle Heights we see around us today.
And had it not been for the marriage between Sacramenta López and George Cummings, an entrepreneur from Croatia who followed the Gold Rush to San Francisco—and with his earnings as a farmer who fed and supplied the miners, was able to purchase ranch land near Tehachapi—the Boyle Hotel and Boyle Heights might never have been built.

Kurland writes with clear scholarship in a readable style. While emotionally close to the historic circumstances she has researched thoroughly, she does not shy away from a need to uncover the truth and thus establish a basis for her preservation efforts. The efforts, which—as Evangeline Ordaz-Molina so eloquently shares in her introduction—dovetailed nicely with a vision among leadership at ELACC, for the resuscitation of a landmark, the restoration of the architectural icon imbued with the identity of a neighborhood and profoundly rooted in the songs and the soul of mariachi. 

A compliment to Kurland’s riveting family history and the poetically erudite essay be Enrique Lamadrid which covers the history, the mechanics and lyrical truth inherent in mariachi music while illustrating the importance of the lesser known but no less important annual tribute to Santa Cecilia, Miguel Gandert delivers an array of modern-day musical saints with his honest, tender portraits. In page after page of indelible images, Gandert has absorbed the heart of mariachi and the psyche of a people.

The photographs alone would be enough to make this volume an important addition to anyone’s library. His photos are not mere sociological or anthropological studies. Each frame speaks to a conversation held off camera. The mariachi musicians are instantaneously welcomed as family. One gets the sense that Gandert has spoken to each of them and won them over. Their expressions are honest, never posed. They have allowed themselves to relax completely and display no self-consciousness. It is a thing of rare beauty indeed, much like the restoration of the Boyle or “Mariachi” Hotel.


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Brooklyn & Boyle is pleased to announce a first-time ever collaboration between artist, master printer and Modern Multiples founder Richard Duardo and artist Antonio Pelayo. One of the prints resulting from their recent collaboration (attached below), will be featured on the cover of our next issue.

A special fundraiser/celebration honoring the artists and acknowledging August birthdays for so many of our artist, poet, writer and art aficionado friends (among them your humble Brooklyn & Boyle editor) will be held at KGB Studios on August 31st. The event will feature live music, poetry, and an art auction as well as good eats, delicious refreshment and good vibes.

Business owners and well wishers are invited to participate at several levels as advertising sponsors. Sponsors who purchase a full-page ad taken out at the discounted rate of $300 ($400 for full-color) will not only have their message placed in 6,000 copies of Brooklyn & Boyle, but will have their logo printed on post card and poster invitations to the August 31st event, in addition to inclusion on prominent banner signage during the event as well as listing on social networking announcements of Facebook and Twitter in advance of the event. Full-page advertisers will also receive four VIP guest list tickets which include two complimentary beverages each.

Half-page advertising sponsors who come on board at $175 ($200 for full color) will--in addition to an ad placement in our exciting, much anticipated August issue--receive two complimentary VIP guest list tickets. We are also making quarter-page sponsorships available for $100 ($125 for full-color). Quarter page advertising sponsors will receive one complimentary VIP guest list ticket.

We look forward to working with you in an effort to help market your business, product or service to a select and growing audience of readers who recognize that art and culture are a large part of what make our neighborhoods and communities so special.

warm regards,
Brooklyn & Boyle
213-321-7115


 by Abel Salas

Theater is often about confessions. This is an article that incorporates a theater review. In this case, the theatrical confessions we refer to are somewhat exaggerated true-to-life experiences as told on stage by writer Josefina López through director Corky Domínguez, a long-time López collaborator. But more specifically, there will also be confessions of a personal nature that relate directly to this site and the paper bills itself as Brooklyn & Boyle.

With the adaptation of her debut novel, Hungry Woman in Paris, into a stage production titled, simply, Hungry Woman, López has created an entirely new genre she calls "cineatro." Introducing Hungry Woman for a recent audience, she confesses that the reason we are seeing the book as a play rather than a movie is because she doesn't have the millions of dollars it would take to make a film version. The other confession is my own. I have known Josefina for years and it was, in part, her novel that launched the paper now known as Brooklyn & Boyle. And in the interest of full disclosure, I have long considered her a good friend.

The short version is that four years ago, I found myself producing an poetry reading with Gloria Alvarez and Ruben "Funkahuatl" Guevara down the street from the old Casa 0101 (now known as Little Casa). López offered to read from her her book, which—according to her—had some "steamy" passages.

In the end, López had a schedule conflict and would not even be in the country for our "Literotica Chicana" celebration at East Side Luv, a watering hole and wine bar that had still not yet been "discovered" by the rest of Greater Los Angeles. We packed the house and extra bartenders had to be called in. It was then that I understood that we were part of a community that was ready for good, smart, edgy writing presented in a viable way, that Boyle Heights and the Greater East Side were home to hundreds of great literary voices, many just emerging and many who were already working in the national and international arenas.

If our poetry could fill up a trendy night spot across the street from Mariachi Plaza, I reasoned that our community could support a paper the East Side arts from here to Highland Park and Eagle Rock. So that's how Brooklyn & Boyle was really born.

When I told López what I was thinking of doing, she responded positively, even offering let me publish the prologue from her newly released novel. I received my review copy of Hungry Woman in Paris directly from Josefina and devoured it in one sitting, promptly falling in love with the protagonist, a feisty, beautiful, intelligent and politically savvy journalist named Canela Guerrero who gets burned out and nearly gives up when she realizes Bush II has been re-elected, leaves her successful fiancée and goes to France, where she enrolls in a prestigious French cooking school.

As a play, Hungry Woman works on too many levels to list. The stellar performance by Rachel González in the uplifting lead role is the fulcrum for sterling performances across the board. The production becomes, as such, ensemble theater at its finest. Mary Mendoza as the figure of death, who shows up wearing her party dress in true Dia de Los Muertos tradition. is superb as Canela's foil at every turn. The dialogue is witty and spontaneous. Sub-plots are unexpected and captivating. The wry, perfectly-timed humor is complimented by the subtle and serious socio-political commentary, which is indelibly nuanced and evidence of the author's maturity.
Staging for the production is an avant-garde collection of canted rectangles scattered across the floor, which also serve as screens for projections from directly above, that take the audience literally around the world and into private bedrooms. Costumes, sound and lighting underscore a moving and thoroughly satisfying theatrical feast. To put it simply, the world premiere of this delightful new play is a marvelous success, and it is more than likely that the final three performances this weekend will be sold-out. It would be wise (and yes, López is responsible for our regular "Ask a Wise Latin" column) to make reservations in advance. Call Casa 0101's Box office at 323-263-7684 or e-mail; tickets@casa0101.org. You can also buy online at www.casa0101.org.

Valley Economic Development Center, in conjunction with East LA Community Corp. (ELACC), Barrio Planners with support from Brooklyn & Boyle, are pleased to present the fourth and final in a series of FREE and extremely informative workshops on improving your access to capital and the tools you need for growing your small, neighborhood-based business or launching a one!!!

There is absolutely no obligation to apply for a loan, even though VEDC does, indeed, have a fund specifically allocated for loans to small business owners in Boyle Heights and surrounding communities. The workshop is simply a very good place to start because the information presented helps eliminate all the red tape and mumbo jumbo you would normally get from a bank when you walk in to ask for help.

In clear, understandable bi-lingual format (Spanish speakers also strongly encouraged to attend), the workshop takes all the mystery out of the process. Learn the do's and don'ts, the ins and outs of credit and how to work around a low credit score, alternative financing and more. The workshop is completely free The knowledge and know how you will gain is more than worth the two hour investment of your time. Join us for light refreshments. Only 20 spaces are available to email us at BrooklynandBoyle@gmail.com to reserve your seat. You may also call 213-321-7115 and make a reservation in person. Hope to see you there!


best regards y muchas gracias!
Brooklyn & Boyle
213-321-7115

By Susana Bautista


               Bull Slipt by John Valadez at Koplin del Rio Gallery's "Artifex."
 Five Latino artists that come from different generations, geographic conditions and cultural influences, but all with one thing in common; a commitment to artistically explore cultural artifacts that signify identity. These artifacts can be anonymous remnants from second-hand stores, found and used by Einar and Jaimex de la Torre, or more personal artifacts such as the clothing, jewelry, and tattoos on the figures drawn by Shizu Saldamando, or John Valadez’s cautious use of Chicano artifacts like the low-rider car and the Virgin. Harry Gamboa Jr.’s characters in his photographs, films, and performances have become artifacts of a new Chicano culture that is being constantly (re)created through the organic evolution of Chicano artists themselves. These five artists both appropriate cultural artifacts and create new ones through their artistic vision that reflects their immersion in contemporary culture as well as their desire to contribute to the global visual discourse.

Notions of identity, culture, and community emerged in the 1960s and ’70s during the civil rights movement with the Brown Berets and the Chicano Moratorium. Today, in 2013 the world has changed. Artists are no less conscious of their identity, but that identity is a much larger assemblage of where they were born, where they have lived, where they exhibit, where they travel, and who they meet. To say that the de la Torre brothers are Mexican artists says nothing about their formative years in Orange County or their current experience of the U.S./Mexico border region that they cross regularly between their San Diego studio and their home in Ensenada. Younger artists like Saldamando don’t approach identity as monolithic, but rather as a remix of pop culture, fine arts, west side, east side, Mexican, Asian, and more.

Gamboa Jr. started to use his camera in the 1970s to document the urban Chicano experience in his subversive style, and continues to do so as that same experience changes, even as means of subversion and assumptions of normalcy change. Valadez created a cultural iconography drawn from his neglected world to empower Chicanos, but today that world is no longer confused and angry, and creates its own iconographies. Latino culture in the 21st century is about reflection, creation, and contribution of new ways of thinking, new ideas, and new media. The artists participate concurrently in a local and a global world, on a Latino and an American field, and in high and low cultural spaces. We cannot negate the continued presence of identity, social issues, ethnicity, history, and culture, but we can try to go beyond to focus on what really matters; the work as contemporary arte factum.

Einar and Jamex de la Torre are constantly pushing the boundaries of their knowledge and of what is acceptable or expected, exploring the potential of glass sculpture, painting, resin, digital printing, and collage. The layering of sculpture onto two-dimensional panels with wall-papered or lenticular imagery—as in Spring is in the Air and DNA (Do Not Absolve)—creates a rich theatricality that extends out into the space of the viewer and then pulls the viewer deep inside the work, swaying from side to side for the complete experience. Other new work is inspired by a recent trip to Belgium, idealizing Pieter Bruegel for his heroic portrayal of everyday peasant life in the 16th century and adopting the genre of still-life painting that allows the artists to incorporate contrasting elements. Their work is never a choice of elimination but one of accumulation in order to accommodate their rich well of influences, experiences and experiments; not a postmodern pastiche that is disconnected and isolated but a socio-cultural mash-up that obliges us to make connections, seek out familiar signifiers, and laugh irreverently.

Harry Gamboa Jr. explores notions of stereotypes and media-produced perceptions of Chicanos in his ongoing Chicano Male Unbonded series from 1991. Prompted by watching “America’s Most Wanted” television program, the artist began to wonder how people would perceive his Chicano male friends (scholars, lawyers, musicians, artists, teachers) when standing on urban street corners at night. In these male portraits, and the accompanying female ones from his In Sense series, the figures dominate the space regardless of the background. Rendered more powerful in black and white, they shout defiance, confidence, pride and fearlessness. Gamboa’s photographic gaze intuitively directs their performance, much like he directs the video projects and performances that continue to represent an important and inspirational part of his artistic oeuvre, whether working with foreigners as he travels abroad or with local artists and friends in his troupe Virtual Vérité.

John Valadez’s new work takes a stylistic turn into the satirical and surrealist, linking disparate images together in his signature realist and figurative style, but there is a distinct sense of humor in these works (Bull Slipt), albeit dark and subtle. Two characters are prominent in his recent works; the nude and the ocean. The nude provides tension and contrast when inserted into ordinary settings such as in Lovers Lane and Streetfight, and the ocean provides an intensity that brings out emotions as in Ascension that overindulges us with waves, clouds, and flames that all rage in harmony, pointing to the tall white nude that balances both precipitously and serenely atop the dark nude in the water. Dark Clown Scandals is nostalgic, as is Streetfight that was started in 1988 and finished in 2012, both referencing Valadez’s Chicano culture from the past, but with greater stylistic and iconographic complexity that synthesizes past and present, sad and funny, fantasy and reality.

Shizu Saldamando’s work lies in the realm of figurative realism that pays homage to John Valadez who documented his subaltern community. Saldamando’s is a different community, also outside mainstream society but one that is multi-ethnic, sexually ambivalent, and partial to indie music, backyard parties, and tattoo parlors.  She is inspired by her friends and draws them with honesty and tenderness. With Rina and Carn we feel as if we are intruding on a personal and emotional moment. The two figures are awkwardly squeezed together in the corner but our focus is drawn to the wide open eyes, causing us to ponder what they are thinking, where they are looking. In In Between Sets, Waiting for the Band the three female figures fill the canvas.

Despite the uniform of grey denim and t-shirts and all their eyes closed or covered with glasses, their individuality comes through with a shock of pink hair, a pink flower, bracelet, or touch of green. Unlike the traditional reclining poses of Old Masters, the body in Backyard Hardcore turns away from the viewer to seek privacy, showing only traces of identity on the jacket that our gaze focuses on. The grey space envelops the body as if in a void, with the only references to reality a hanging hat, a few tufts of grass surrounding the body, and an open can in the corner.

Susana Bautista is a scholar on museums and the arts, technology, digital culture, and Latino/Chicano art and culture. She received her Ph.D. in Communication as a Provost Fellow and her Masters degree in Art History/ Museum Studies, both at the University of Southern California.  Koplin del Rio Gallery is located at 6031 Washington Blvd., Culver City, CA 90232..
The exhibition will run from May 18 through June 29.



Last month, we remembered what it means to work, and we honored our mothers. Some of us are still fortunate enough to have them in our lives. Some of us keep them in our hearts because they are no longer with us. A close friend recently attended a funeral for the mother of a fifth-grade girl, who spoke with poise when she said that her only regret was that she had not had more time with her mom. While it is an incredibly heartbreaking story, it reminds us that our mothers are to be cherished as sacred angels as who bring beauty and love, unconditionally.

And whether we mourn or celebrate our mothers, it is important to remember that among us are those who have grown up with two moms or two dads, with grandparents or adoptive parents. In each case, it is the loving and nurturing spirit transferred to our children that that allows them to forge forward and pursue their dreams. What matters most is that they are wanted and loved. In that vein, we offer a tribute to Sal Castro, who—as an educator—dedicated his life to nurturing, educating and empowering Chicano and Latino students across Los Angeles. His passing marks the end of an era, and it is only fitting that his legacy live on in these pages as well as in the thousands of young people whose lives he touched with his indomitable spirit. The movimiento owes him a debt of gratitude. And the fact that at least three of the candidates in current City council run-off elections are Latino is an undeniable reflection of Castro's legacy. From the barrios to the board rooms and even in the hallowed corridors of City Hall, Sal Castro was adamant in his belief that our youth had a right to be important decision makers in all of those places.

On the art front, congratulations are in order for Fernando Barragán, our modern-day Chicano cubist, a barrio Picasso, who recently had a solo exhibition at Fremont Gallery.  It was long over-due. Barragán has quietly and humbly created a body of work that includes canvas paintings, murals, pyrography and mixed media. Unassuming and quiet, he interprets life on the streets and finds a sharp-edged, ethereal beauty among the diverse denizens of an East Side that vibrates and glows with a taut, tense and raw energy. For us, he has always been an unsung hero, a gentle giant who works like a beast to help and take care of so many, including the editor of this small art/community gazette.

Further kudos go out to East LA Community Corporation for the second successful Taste of Boyle Heights, an annual celebration of culinary and cultural excellence in the community. The staff at ELACC worked hard at  for months on an event that promised to delight and entertain even as it recognized leaders at the forefront of efforts to provide dignified, affordable housing and improved quality of life for East Side residents. Special props go out to Miriam Peniche, a long-time Casa 0101 stalwart who  served as MC. It fell on her to introduce one of our favorite musical groups, the infinitely danceable Buyepongo.

We can also be proud that muralist Judy Baca, founder of Social & Pubic Art Recourse Center (SPARC) was once again acknowledged by the National Endowment for the Arts, which saw fit to recognize her important pioneering work as a pioneering community muralist and the force behind the Great Wall of Los Angeles, with a grant to continue restoration of that record breaking mural project in the Tujanga Pass, which remains, to this day, the world's longest—and grandest, we might add—mural project. Durfee Foundation Fellow Debra Padilla has been holding it down alongside Baca for more than two decades, and we congratulate them on their award from the NEA. It is well deserved.

That commitment to creating cross-cultural bridges upon which Baca based her depiction of LA history on the walls of the Tujanga wash, was echoed at official City of LA ceremony held to launch Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. Honorees included LA Conservation Corps Executive Director Bruce Saito, who was proud to reveal that his paternal grandmother grew up in Boyle Heights, and Iron Chef Jet Tila, who reminded everyone that LA is a city with a rich, international culinary history and, as such, can go toe-to-toe with any big city on the East Coast. Strategy Workshop media and community relations person par excellence Leslie Song Winner was our lifeline for sometime, and we thank her for her significant influence, mentorship and outreach as well as her invitation to events such as these.

Lastly, we can thank District 14 Council Member José Huizar for coming down to meet the Wyvernwood activists who marched on May Day to City Hall from Boyle Heigts to rally in favor of community preservation, labor rights and immigration reform. Hundreds—led by El  Comité de la Esperanza with support from community-based organizations such as ELACC, Corazón del Pueblo, Ovarian Psycho-Cycles, Radio Sombra, Merkado Negro, Caminarte and others—walked four miles to underscore the need for preservation as opposed to demolition. His opposition to the re-development project as it currently stands has helped galvanize a community. We send him a heartfelt saludo de aprecio.  

Abel Salas can be reached at brooklynandboyle@gmail.com