In the 1970s and 1980s, Los Angeles-based Chicanas/os strove to scrutinize aspects of popular culture and advanced alternative narratives concerning race, gender, sexuality, and citizenship that were not represented within mainstream art practice at the time. These efforts are investigated in the new exhibition, L.A. Memo: Chicana/o Art from 1972-1989, presented by LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes and AltaMed Health Services, the nation’s largest federally qualified community health center. The exhibition will run from March 18 through August 14, 2022.
The exhibition showcases the artwork of more than 30 artists, such as Carlos Almaraz, Patssi Valdez, Teddy Sandoval, Judy Baca, and additional members of the first generation of Americans who would come of age during the expanding media culture of the 1960s. At the same time, they were among the pioneering artists from across the United States who would appropriate and utilize popular culture imagery as their subject, chosen media, and means of presentation.
Organized by AltaMed and LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes, and guest curated by Rafael Barrientos Martínez, AltaMed Curatorial Assistant, Collections, L.A. Memo explores how these artists adapted new modes of image-making and self-expression, breaking barriers to create a pivotal genre of art to tell their stories through painting, film, television, magazines, newspapers, theater, and music.
“This exhibition seeks to re-examine the contexts through which we view and understand Chicana/o art of the 1970s and ‘80s. By re-visiting stories about these moments in our history we can more fully understand both the extent of these artists’ contributions to the evolution of Chicana/o art and appreciate their place in the pantheon of American art,” said Barrientos Martínez. “Many of the artworks in this exhibition are today considered cornerstones of Chicana/o art history, reflecting some of the most key lines of inquiry about identity politics in the U.S., and others represent commentaries about Chicanidad that have rarely been encountered outside of the artists’ studios. This exhibition stands as a unique opportunity to gain a fuller understanding of this formative period in Chicanx art history in Los Angeles.”
“Attracted to new media, the Hollywood film industry, photography, and a desire for experimentation and representation, the Los Angeles arts scene produced significant artists who rose to prominence,” said Karen Crews, LA Plaza’s Senior Curator. “Among them were Chicana/o artists who demonstrated a distinctive view of contemporary culture and asserted a groundbreaking collection of images and cultural commentary that redefined notions of identity.”
More than 50 artworks are included in the exhibition, including paintings, screen prints, mixed media, photographs, collages, digital prints, sculptures, and video works. Most of them are from the AltaMed Art Collection, comprised of more than 2,000 works reflecting the diverse communities that AltaMed serves.
The artists included are: Carlos Almaraz, Judy F. Baca, Alfredo de Batuc, David Botello, Paul Botello, Oscar Castillo, Barbara Carrasco, Roberto “Beto” de la Rocha, Richard Duardo, Elsa Flores, Harry Gamboa Jr., Diane Gamboa, Margaret Garcia, Roberto Gil de Montes, Roberto Gutierrez, Wayne Healy, Judithe Hernández, Willie Herrón, Leo Limón, Carmen Lomas Garza, Gilbert “Magu” Luján, Glugio Gronk Nicandro, George Rodriguez, Frank Romero, Teddy Sandoval, Joey Terrill, Eloy Torrez, Arturo Urista, John Valadez, Patssi Valdez, and Linda Vallejo.
THE CHICANO MORATORIUM
“This movement came at a time when the Chicana/o community was beginning to assert itself in the revolutionary wake of the Chicano Moratorium of 1970,” said John Echeveste, CEO of LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes. “The artists included in this exhibition precipitated a whole new genre of art—the Chicana/o Art Movement (1960s to the 1980s) and beyond, which signaled a greater conversation in American art history.”
“Art has a powerful way of creating dialogue, knowledge and understanding of culture and history,” said Cástulo de la Rocha, president and CEO of AltaMed Health Services, whose vision guides the AltaMed Art Collection. “As an organization that is rooted in social justice, the Chicana/o art movement is close to my heart, it shares important stories in the struggles and triumphs of Mexican Americans in Los Angeles and must be brought to the forefront of the art world.”
- Patssi Valdez (b.1953), Pillow Talk, 1979-80, Black and white photograph, ink, and pastel on mural paper, 24” H x 30” W inches, Courtesy of Patssi Valdez.
- Donna Deitch. Judy F. Baca, (b.1946). Judith F. Baca as La Pachuca, 1973. Archival digital print on photo paper. Social and Public Art Resource Center. Collection of Judy F. Baca
- El Arte Chicano (Color), 1974. Roberto “Beto” de la Rocha (b. 1937). Mixed media 29 5/8” H x 39 5/8” W. The de la Rocha Family Collection. On loan to AltaMed Art Collection.
- Teddy Sandoval. Untitled. 1977-1979. Xerox and airbrush on paper. ollectionof Paul Polubinskas, Teddy Sandoval Estate, ©TheTeddy Sandoval Estate