In over 50 years of existence, the ever-evolving Chicano art has shaped itself into one of the main movements of the American creative canon. Established among four cultures ―the Pre-Columbian, the invasive Hispanic, Mexico itself, and the United States of America― Chicano art draws on all four and evolves out of both its roots and the decades of oppression its practitioners and their families have sustained.
Born in the middle 1960s ―along with Vietnam War protesters and the Black Power Civil Rights movement― the Chicano movement challenged racial categorization and derisive stereotypes widespread in the Anglo population as well as the dropout-riddled public education establishment that proclaimed Latinos too inferior to attain a middle-class standard of living.
These issues became the subjects of early Chicano artists. The expressionistic, outspoken realism of their works appealed to an art public that had become jaded by successive establishment trends in non-representative painting.
And, even though Chicanos and Latinos have made progress economically, socially, and politically, they continue being a marginalized group. The advancements and hardships of the past five decades have helped shape Chicano and Latino art’s evolution. These artists have expanded their creative expression, demonstrating an agility to develop and refine their own mythologies, methodologies and philosophies. They have introduced a remarkable school of art into the history of art itself.
Building Bridges in Time of Walls: Chicano/Mexican Art from Los Angeles to Mexico brings a multigenerational selection of works by Chicano and Latino artists from Southern California, all of whom are of Mexican heritage. The exhibit examines how these artists explore their cultural hybridity through five significant themes: Rebel Diamonds from the Sun, Imagining Paradise, Outsiders in their Own Home, Mapping Identity and Cruising the Hyphenate. Simultaneously, in widening the lens of how Chicano and Latino art is viewed beyond its strict geographical home, the exhibit illustrates these artists’ inexorable ties to Mexico and how they transcend singular identity and borders.
Spanning traditional painting to avant-garde conceptualism, this exhibit includes nearly 30 renowned artists and seminal collectives: Carlos Almaraz, Asco, Judy Baca, Cindy Santos Bravo, Enrique Castrejon, Jamex and Einar De La Torre, Gary Garay, Gil Garcetti, Camille Rose Garcia, Harry Gamboa Jr., Roberto Gil de Montes, Ramiro Gomez, Yolanda Gonzalez, Judithe Hernández, Sálomon Huerta, Los Four, Leticia Maldonado, Patrick Martinez, Johnny Rodriguez, Frank Romero, Gabriela Ruiz, Shizu Saldamando, Ana Serrano, John Valadez, Patssi Valdez, and Linda Vallejo.
Paintings, sculpture, photography, video, mixed media collage, and installation come together demonstrating these artists’ agility in forming distinct personalities, expressing methodologies and philosophies which have become synonymous with their respective oeuvres.
This exhibition does not intend to serve as a definitive survey of Chicano art. On the contrary, this exhibition continues the exploration of Los Angeles art in dialogue with Mexico, signifying a historic moment by presenting Chicano art as an original school of American art.
Building Bridges in Time of Walls is an unprecedented collaboration between AltaMed Health Services and the Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes y Literatura. In partnership with Mexico’s Secretary of Culture, Alejandra Frausto Guerrero and the director of the Instituto de Bellas Artes y Literatura, Lucina Jiménez, Building Bridges is presented by Cástulo de la Rocha, President and CEO of AltaMed Health Services; and Zoila D. Escobar, President, AltaMed Foundation.
AltaMed Health Services serves Latino, multi-ethnic, and underserved communities in Southern California, and as part of its holistic approach to healthcare, exhibits its art collection throughout all its clinics and service sites, whose subjects reflect the diverse communities it serves.