Oscar Castillo is posing for a photographer’s lens. “Look right here into the lens,” the photog calls. Oscar can’t resist. He pulls up his own digital and fires off a frame. It’s the latest in a career of moments in chicano culture Castillo’s captured. And it’s a lesson in photography every photographer should practice: carry your camera everywhere and be liberally decisive with your shutter.
The lesson is highly explanatory for why a hundred heated bodies fill the sultry sotano gallery of the Latino Museum of History, Art & Culture housed at the Los Angeles Theatre Center. They’ve come to witness themselves and honor Oscar Castillo in a major retrospective exhibit, El Movimiento: Chicano Identity and Beyond Through the Lens of Oscar Castillo, curated by Gregorio Luke.
Castillo’s photographic work documents critical moments in United States history and Chicano culture. From Castillo's files, Luke assembles a wide selection. From the 1960s farmworker movimiento continuing into the 1970s as the urban movimiento hit the streets. From the earliest big-time gallery show of Chicano paintings to musician and folk portraits—many in color—illustrating the quiescent post-movimiento era.
Images of Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta engender mute respect. These require no comment. “Hey, that’s my prima!” a visitor calls out, pointing to an anti-Vietnam war photo. “I’m right behind that guy with the sign,” exclaims another voice. “Hey, I’m holding the sign!” Well-executed photographs bring thrilling moments of recognition like these, or, moments of serious reflection looking into the eyes of a giant.
The ritual speeches begin with The Latino Museum officials taking the floor. When Jaime Rodriguez, aide to a California State Senator, takes the floor to make a Sentate Presentation recognizing Oscar's work, Oscar quickly moves to bring his wife, Alice, to share the stage with him. It is a touching moment of well-deserved recognition for Alice Castillo. Being in the right place at the right time also means being away from home a lot, or locked away in the darkroom.
Castillo’s foto of Los Four--Gilbert Magu Lujan, Carlos Almaraz, Frank Romero, Beto de la Rocha-- documents the first Chicano artists to make the walls of the previously all-Westside all-New York Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Tonight, Magu and Beto happily pose in front of the image of their younger selves. Almaraz died long ago. Romero is probably painting in his Frogtown studio. We missed him.
Ni modo. A cross-section of Los Angeles has assembled, including a who’s who of artists. Patssi Valdez. Barbara Carrasco. Mario Trillo. Guillermo Bejarano. Ron Arias. Chuy Treviño. Joe Rodriguez from the old Mechicano Art Center. Armando Baeza. Sergio Hernandez and Diane. Several of these, along with numerous visitors, begin to join the artists for a yesterday-today portrait.
Dozens of people carry cameras, from Chuy Treviño’s professional video camera to point-and-shoot digital devices. Time, place, eye and finger have as much to do with a great image as top notch technology, but there’s a lot to be said for top notch technology. Fortunately, Castillo used a twin-lens reflex 2.25” film camera before switching to the precision optics of a 35mm Nikon. Large, and high quality negatives allow the Latino Museum to create the generous prints hanging the gallery this evening. Extraordinary images require archival reproduction; do that and a print will survive 100 years with proper conservation. Which has me thinking I need to get a copy of Oscar’s shot of me. A century from now my great great grandkidlet will point to a 3-D holograph and say, “that’s a genuine Castillo and that’s my bis- bis-abuelo Michael. Have you ever seen a camera before?”
El Movimiento: Chicano Identity and Beyond Through the Lens of Oscar Castillo, is currently at The Latino Museum of History, Art and Culture 514 S. Spring Street Los Angeles, California 90013
News from the Latino Book Festival at Cal State Los Angeles (Press Release)
History in the Making: The 12th Annual
Los Angeles Latino Book & Family Festival will feature 70 Latino Authors
Los Angeles, September 2009—The upcoming Los Angeles Latino Book & Family Festival, to be held at California State University, Los Angeles (CSULA) on the weekend of October 10-11, will feature an outstanding lineup of 70 Latino authors, including Victor Villaseñor, Pat Mora, Luis J. Rodríguez, Josefina López, Helena María Viramontes, Reyna Grande, María Amparo Escandón, Graciela Limón, Gustavo Arellano, Alicia Gaspar de Alba, Rigoberto González, Daniel Olivas, Ana Nogales, Marisela Norte, Montserrat Fontes, Margo Candela, Patricia Santana, Ligiah Villalobos, Julio Martínez, Héctor Tobar, Rubén Martínez, Eliud Martínez, Eduardo Santiago, Lucha Corpi, Evelina Fernández and Mary Castillo, among many others.
Special events taking place at this year’s festival include 24 sessions, such as Chicas, Chicanas & Latinas, a panel featuring some of the most promising Latina authors in the country, Latino LA: The City of Angels through Fiction, Poetry and Journalism; Barrio Stories; Chicano/Latino Thought & Art; Border Stories, Writing Books For Children, two Mariachi sessions, an editors/agents panel, and a screenwriters panel featuring up-and-coming Latina screenwriters such as Ligiah Villalobos (Under the Same Moon) and Josefina López (Real Women Have Curves). In addition, Helena María Viramontes will do a one hour creative writing workshop on the novel; Victor Villaseñor, Pat Mora, and filmmaker Robert Young will each do individual presentations. There will also be 12 Spanish workshops held throughout the day.
This year the festival will have a children’s area and stage dedicated to renowned Latina author Pat Mora’s literacy initiative “Día de Los Niños/Día de los Libros,” which she founded in 1996 to promote literacy and celebrate books among Spanish-speaking communities. The children’s stage will feature several children’s book authors and celebrities for story-time, including a 20 minute reading by Ms. Mora. In addition, The Los Angeles Theater Academy (LATA), founded by Alejandra Flores, is proud to present a play called "A Turtle Story" created by the Solano Elementary School students based on a legend from the Tongva (Gabrielino) Tribe. LATA students who participated in their after school and weekend program will also perform two songs from Crí-Crí (Francisco Gabilondo Soler). The Main Stage will feature Folklórico dance performances, singers, plays, poetry jams, and much more.
Edward James Olmos, actor and community activist, is the Co-Producer of the Latino Book & Family Festival, a weekend event that promotes literacy, culture and education in a fun environment for the whole family. Launched in 1997 in Los Angeles and organized by the non-profit organization Latino Literacy Now, the LBFF has provided people of all ages and backgrounds the opportunity to celebrate the beauty and diversity of the multicultural communities of the United States. “We are proud to be presenting so many wonderful authors at this year’s Los Angeles Latino Book & Family Festival,” said Olmos. “In our twelve year history of putting on some 45 Festivals around the country, this is the largest gathering of authors we’ve ever had. Truly, something for everyone.”
New in this year’s festival include:
- More Chicana/Latino authors – five times as many!
- A stronger partnership with California State University, Los Angeles – more support, more volunteers, more attendees!
- Support from other organizations such as Raise Literacy Campaign, Latina Leadership Network, RCOE Early Reading First
- More quality vendors/exhibitors
This year the Festival will be promoted by a strong list of media partners headed up by Telemundo and La Opinión. CVS Pharmacy will once again provide health screenings for all attendees. New sponsor Amway Global will have beauty and nutritional experts on hand for consultations (and to hand out samples).
To exhibit at this year’s festival, sponsor, volunteer or donate raffle prizes or children’s books, visit the festival’s website at www.LBFF.us For more information call 760-434-4484.
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