Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Art! The Magazine Debuts. Forced Relocation of USC Centro. On-line Floricanto.

Review: Art! The Magazine. 

Michael Sedano

I notice the dot on my forearm, dark like a lunar, as I’m washing up after morning chores. A pinpoint of cold water splashes the dot. Bright purple exudes from the tissue, coloring the tiny dome of clear water that disappears when I wash it away with other detritus from the pre-breakfast cleanup from yesterday’s cascarones.

I dry my hands carefully so I don’t get dirt all over my copy of Art! The Magazine.

The previous day, La Bloga friend, artist Mario Trillo, shared a copy of his son, Alex’, ambitiously courageous venture, Art! The Magazine. I’d left my copy under an umbrella, a fortunate act of absent-mindedness, since someone left the cake out in the rain and it made quite the mess.

Not that mess is a bad thing. Not when the party has a herd of small children screaming gleefully as they go about the Easter ritual of smashing cascarones on any available coco.

Mario’s joy in sharing Volume One Number One of Art! The Magazine reflects the concatenation of years  influencing a son’s growth, the contentment of knowing his son still relies on the old man’s support.

For me, a similar glow warmed me the other evening, watching the nieta and her friend stuffing cascarones. The girls Skype, but that’s no substitute for what’s happening in person, multi-tasking and discussing plans; Catalina has arrived with ten dozen empty blanquillos and last week, Charlotte made six dozen. This year, the girls fill my spirit with puro enchantment, the lifelong best friends quietly exchanging news of their lives, now that Catalina is growing up in Virginia.

By the time Charlotte and Lini reach college, Art! The Magazine will be in Volume 12. By that time, the magazine will have found its feet and established a track record for excellence that began with the first issue back in 2013.

Art! The Magazine lives up to its name, with a demographic slant reflecting the magazine’s Southern California  Chicana Chicano origins. Art! The Magazine covers “arts, music, reads, eats” and in this debut issue features articles on “guitar God” Slash; “demon, alien, and sexy siren populated art” from British primitive Jason Atomic; an interview and gallery show with comic book artist Shaky Kane; an illustrated interview with body artist Amber Orosco.

The centerfold feature, “Magulandia. Committed to Chicano Art and the Mental Menudo,” is Billy Chainsaw and Angel Guerrero’s instructive narrative on Gilbert Lujan’s role of chicanarte pioneer, together with insight into Magu’s aesthetic.

“Magulandia” itself makes the magazine’s $4.95 a bargain, the photographs from the Lujan family and Gilbert Ortiz’ formal portrait, “Last Supper,” doubling the value of the superbly printed pages.

Editor Trillo admits the riskiness of starting a print magazine at the tail end of the print era. Although proffering this rose-colored glasses assessment, “Art will never die!”, he backs up the optimism with a solid product that reflects the editor’s goal, “Bridging the cultural aspects of surrounding artistic communities”.

Art! The Magazine’s web presence provides stupendous fun amid a growing and ambitious catalog of recreational reading and viewing.

Obviously, a printed-on-paper artifact comes with inherent limitations that electronic publishing supersedes.

The depth of material at artthemagazine.com extends the value of a subscription far beyond that of having a physical thing to carry to a quiet place to peruse.

Non-subscribers visiting Artthemagazine.com should feel guilty about enjoying the not-paywalled website, and buy a subscription.

Ongoing improvement will be the objective of anyone’s business plan. There are a couple of improvements I’d recommend.

Subscribing to Art! The Magazine is not easy. Visiting the website, one doesn’t readily find a link to buy the print edition of this issue, or the upcoming six times a year numbers.

That’s a website shortcoming I’m sure will swiftly find repair and the designer places subscribe bugs all over the pages.

It’s gotta be easier than this to buy. Here’s the link to the subscription page.

Art! The Magazine sold the inside front and back covers, and a couple of half-pagers. That’s a good start on maintaining a healthy magazine. Advertising is the life’s blood of any subscription-based editorial endeavor. The debut issue advertisers, including The Vex Arts, John Zender and Urban Chicano, Pop Lash and Beatuy Bar, Billy Chainsaw Art Gallery, Crafty Frida, Lupe Flores, Desireé Estrada, and Susana Galaviz, merit a visit in person or on computer, with a word of appreciation for their advertising in Art! The Magazine and supporting their own industry.

The publisher needs to find a way to incorporate those print ads onto that electronic page, but not in some obnoxious manner. People hate to be sold, but they love to buy. The two full page ads in print offer exquisite eye candy.

The magazine needs a larger ad hole, maybe half the space. With sixty pages and three covers open for ads, at least forty pages should have an ad.

Selling ad space is not impossible. According to Standard Rate and Data Service, Art! The Magazine sales professionals face competition from 3000 print consumer magazines and 5000 digital media space sellers. That’s not daunting. In sales, that's called managing your territory.

Those numbers tell you there are thousands and thousands of buyers out there. When a territory isn’t getting the order, someone’s eating your lunch because every dollar out there belongs to you. Get out there and sell that space.

A quibble, perhaps, but a thorny one, is the logo for Art! The Magazine fails to express an idea. This dripping capital “A” and an exclamation point—cue Victor Borge--doesn’t come close to giving this outstanding publication a meaningful nor distinctive identity.

To me, an old fart. Perhaps readers comfortable with arrobas and hashtags find significance in A! I say back to the drawing board, and start with the question why do you need a logo?

But the genuine bugaboo of any publisher is distribution. With a worldwide audience awaiting print copies, Art! The Magazine has to get out there on the library shelves and magazine racks, and into the search engines.

Try the Google term “chicano art magazine”. It’s wonderful for la cultura that the search turns up so many diverse hits, a challenge to Trillo’s team none of the hits suggest Art! The Magazine.

Your library has a subscription suggestion box. Ask the library to put Art! The Magazine on the shelves. All they can do is say "no," but there's a fifty-fifty chance they'll say "yes."

There’s a simple truth in capitalism: You can have the best product at the best price but if people can’t get their hands on your product, you won’t make a dime.

Congratulations to Alex Trillo and the editorial staff of Art! The Magazine. With the preview issue and now the first run of Volume 1 Number 1 of Art! The Magazine, the enterprise is establishing itself as a solid presence. As Art! The Magazine continues turning out superb product, Trillo and the team will come to recognize that there are no problems, only opportunities.

Good news Bad news
University of Southern California Forces Relocation of El Centro Chicano

Michael Sedano

Someone in the higher-updom of USC's student affairs operation needs to take lessons in quiet grace--at the least--to account for the clumsy policy-making that is forcing the university's El Centro Chicano to a new location, its third change of address in a storied history.

The forced move had the ring of inevitability when I first got word of meetings between administration minions and raza from el centro.

It's not the fabled Chicano Fatalism that hit me, but age,  experience, and prescience. Like The Amazing Criswell, or Karnak the Great, I foresaw there would be meetings, emails, task force fact-finding, more meetings and emails and finally a letter would arrive, We are moving.

USC administrators have a rich history of clumsiness when dealing with raza issues. The leadership style has always been decisions arrive by fiat from on high and then are treated like ideas for discussion.

The foto of the Chicana holding the "USC is racist" sign illustrates the USC administration tradition of mucking up. Change may be inevitable but change need not arrive at the end of a bludgeon nor at the eleventh hour. But that's how it is. USC wields a highly effective method of power: Have a Plan. Work the Plan. This always comes after some knucklehead makes a poor decision.

The Plan: after expending suitable energies and dispatching vice deans and similar tipas tipos to sympathize and play down the adversarial nature of the issue, everyone agrees to disagree thus the administration declares consensus. Then they all  smile for the Daily Trojan fotog.

That's what I expected would transpire at my alma mater, the behemoth would have its way with the truculent Mexicans, the students would grumble Emiliano Zapata quotations, go buy their blue books, and move on.

The email arrived over the weekend.

Director Billy Vela's letter oozes discouragement between the lines. I understand his disappointment. The existing facility feels cozy, and just rasquache enough in a century-old red brick architectural gem to make the site both homey and envied. That corner space overlooking Hoover and Jefferson, with LA's downtown towers and San Gabriel Mountains in the background, ranks among the campus' best vistas on a clear day.

Billy put on the solidarity front but likely recognized his precarious stance. Someone in planning made The Plan. The Plan included El Centro vacating that space, and Billy best not stand in the way because The Plan is the plan. Punto.

There's an emergency last-ditch meeting the El Centro Ambassadors fact-finders will hold. Here's their message, a call for alumni and concerned community gente to help:

re: Urgent-Relocation of USC El Centro Chicano (Your Help Is Needed)

On Friday March 30th students, alumni, parents, faculty and staff received notice from the El Centro Chicano Director that the administration has decided to relocate the center from their home of 33 years. Founded by Chicano students in 1972 to support Latino students on campus, El Centro Chicano (ECC) has historically served an underrepresented community in fostering an open space for activities and organizations that aid in USC’s goals of increased diversity, retention, and graduation. El Centro’s 2,520 square foot space is used by more than 20 student groups for weekly meetings, daily study hours, computer use and free printing, to obtain resources, ongoing site tours from high school and community colleges, and to build community among students. The new proposed space is 1,256 square feet (less than half the size of the current space); greatly impacting El Centro’s ability to provide the same quality of programming, meeting space and resources for students.

A group of students, parents, and alumni, The El Centro Ambassadors, are organizing to save El Centro and keep the center at its current space. The group has a requested a meeting with the administration on 4/16 or 4/18 to urge the university to reconsider their hasty decision. We're calling on students, alumni and supporters to 1) call the President, Provost, and Student Affairs offices to urge administrators to grant the meeting, 2) email letters of support to the aforementioned offices, 3) stay abreast on calls to actions via facebook or the ambassador website, and 4) SPREAD THE WORD! Contact information and sample letters can be found on the ambassador website. Together we can save El Centro for current and future students! 

Per The Plan, and despite the gente's desperation, Billy, staff, and students now get to pack up and head to new digs in the multi-million dollar state of art new student center. Near the heart of campus--a drop of sangre's spurt from the tip of Tommy Trojan's sword--that building sizzles. I had a tour when it was nearing completion, emerging impressed with the building's ulta-modern amenities, but noting the rabbit-warren of space allowed for student activities offices.

The fancy student union El Centro provides only half the space of the existing centro. That's a USC cachetada to remind raza of the once oft-heard lament that a Chicana Chicano had to work twice as hard to be considered half as capable.

Foto: USC El Centro Chicano
I hope el Centro can take its wonderful mural along. And there's someplace to hang it when they settle in.

Today, filling the twenty-five foot wide wall of the big meeting space, I doubt tomorrow's new offices will accommodate the span. The Plan may include putting the art in limbo. Across town, UCLA hides el movimiento's first Chicano mural painted for an academic setting.

That mural, painted in 1970 by Saul Solache, Ramses Noriega, Eduardo Carillo, and La Bloga friend Sergio Hernandez, mushrooms in the Chicano Studies Research Center basement: sits in the dark being fed horseshit about being brought back to light.

There's a print, ése, and the original's too big, so what more do you want? Así es. But at least the mural exists. USC's original El Centro had its own mural-covered building. Had.

I hold fond memories of the original Centro. When I visited campus as a prospective grad student on the GI Bill, my expectations for the coming experience elevated toward the sublime. Walking onto campus through the Hoover Street gate, the first building I, or anyone saw, was El Centro Chicano. ¡Ajúa! So much for the estereotypes.

Entry door art by Willie Herrón ca 1972.

Detail, south side of El Centro Chicano, 1972. Willie Herrón, artist. 

North side El Centro Chicano, Robert Arenivar, "Ad astra".
That first El Centro Chicano on the USC campus featured a mural by Robert Arenivar on the Jefferson Street wall, and along Hoover Street's storefront façade and campus-facing side, a Willie Herrón expression. Both were destroyed when USC plowed under the warmly decrepit campus main gate to install today's grey expanse of concrete and low-maintenance greenery. My photographs, which may be the only extant images of these pieces, are held by the University Digital Library, in the floricanto collection.

USC says ave atque vale to its second El Centro Chicano. Ya stuvo, for all the meetings and pedo USC administrative clumsiness has loosed. They were bound and determined to seize that space and homogenize ethnic initiatives on campus, but they could have exercised long-range planning and done things smoothly. Bumble on for old SC.

For El Centro Chicano's third iteration, La Bloga wishes Billy Vela, and the gente of USC's El Centro Chicano, stunning success, both in their new space and keeping the program whole in the changed circumstance.

There are lots of el centro this and el centro thats on campuses across the continent. One of them, and only one of them, is the best el centro in the World.

Orale, Billy, why not you?

Five Week Month's First On-line Floricanto on April Two
Andrea Hernández Holm, Maria E. Cuthbert, Maritza Rivera, Patrick Fontes, Jan G. Otterstrom F.

"Desert Visions From Boston" by Andrea Hernández Holm
"La hermana" por Maria E. Cuthbert
"Todos" by Maritza Rivera
"The Dust Blower’s Dream" by Patrick Fontes
"Scenario X" by Jan G. Otterstrom F.

Desert Visions
From Boston
by Andrea Hernández Holm

Sheets of ice
Swoop from rooftops
And for a brief moment
My mind's eye
Sees the great horned owl
Who drops
From evening sky
Whose prey stands no chance
Against sharp claws
And a beak with such power
It can crush the neck of any
Small creature in the blink of an eye.

© Andrea Hernandez Holm

Por Maria E. Cuthbert

Dedicado a todas mis amigas queridas en el DIA INTERNACIONAL DE LA MUJER, incluído en mi libro Siglos de Aire - Colección Bicentenario-Centenario - IVEC, CONACULTA, 2010

Te crees sola.
Maestra, geógrafa, abuela,
¿qué te dices tú hermana buena?
Si no te han escuchado es que no has dicho.
Pones remedio al dolor ajeno,
pero ayudarte a ti no puedes sola.
Porque has sido niña lo toleras,
el dolor de ser pensante y poderosa,
como el pesado piano con el que habrías prodigadol
as sonatas conmovidas que se parecen tanto a los manteles y el tejido
y a aquellas cobijas con las que cubristelos bracitos de algún niño.

Son tus manos de tía las que crean,
las que disipan el dolor y soban,
hacen reír y alimentan,
dan las letras que los niños te han pedido.
Hacen números, sacuden, cortan, llevan.
Míralas ahora hermanita
¿se ven como antes, o son ya viejas?
Las manitas de las niñas son dulzura,
rellenitas de mamá y de abuela.
Son las mismas manitas que tenías;
velas ahora, de cariño siguen llenas.

by Maritza Rivera

Al nacer
todos llegamos
sin visa,
Todos lloramos
sin acento.

Copyright 2013 Maritza Rivera. All rights reserved.

The Dust Blower’s Dream
by Patrick Fontes

Within a dust storm Antonio daydreams
of his family in Jalisco’s Los Altos longing
for his safe return as father lover brother
as morning exhaust fumes speed past in mad rush
cars bearing distant faces eyes mesmerized
on straight lines as far as the muddied horizon
beckons them into the blurred brown sky
hovers filtering the sun staining each ray
soiled orange falling onto oily streets
past Antonio as he works among his
earth bound cloud swirling around daytime visions
millions of magic particles he is lost in memories
of past present future melted together over
and over like rich mole thick with sadness
and hope gush out of the blower’s mouth
he imagines Quetzalcoatl writhed about his body
the engine’s vibration’s a god’s beating heart
with gaping jaws spews mighty winds of blessings
a mighty tornado of benevolent chaos
breathing life into littered candy bar wrappers
changed into dirtied plastic birds flying through the air
a cigarette box tossed out a window
last Friday night receives a soul dances alive
gyrates like Jennifer Lopez then shoots away
with choreographed flocks of leaves arisen in unison
fall dead again in a neighboring gutter
“Asshole!” a business man in a black BMW
yells as he drives through Antonio’s dreamscape
cloud blowing down a Fresno street
inside the storm’s eye Antonio’s thoughts
a torrent whorling dust laced divinations

by Jan G. Otterstrom F.

We must find our way back to life
passage through the brush
mangrove swamps, to open sea
chopping away the habitual
seemingly rational fetters
that keep us from seeing “Yan see”
he said to me in a dream
that opened my eyes as a prophet
poet despised by unbelievers, to return
to the fountainhead, source, lonely vigil
before the ocean, open spaces to be filled
full of wonder, to discover the invisible
in hours of hope of home, faith in arriving
to become embraced in charity
motion of our galaxy, quilt of stars.

© Jan G. Otterstrom F.
March 8, 2013

"Desert Visions From Boston" by Andrea Hernández Holm
"La hermana" por Maria E. Cuthbert
"Todos" by Maritza Rivera
"The Dust Blower’s Dream" by Patrick Fontes
"Scenario X" by Jan G. Otterstrom F.

Andrea Hernandez Holm is a poet who also lives as an Instructional Specialist in Writing, and a Graduate Student in Mexican American Studies at the University of Arizona. She is a member of the moderating panel for the Facebook page Poets Responding to SB 1070 and a member of the women's writing collective, Sowing the Seeds de Tucson. In March 2013, Andrea joined fellow moderators Francisco X. Alarcon, Odilia Galvan Rodriguez, and Elena Diaz Bjorkquist to present "Poetry as Resistance: Poets responding to xenophobia and social injustice" at the AWP Conference in Boston. Andrea's poetry has appeared on La Bloga and in Our Spirits, Our Realities; The Blue Guitar Magazine; La Sagrada; Red Ink, Tribal Fires, and Collegiate Latino Underground. She has poetry forthcoming in Generations: A Literary Journal, an article about the production of identity through oral traditions in The Journal of MALCS, and an article about the book bannings in the Tucson Unified School District in the Arizona Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies.

Maritza Rivera is a Puerto Rican poet and Army veteran who has lived in Rockville, MD since 1994. Maritza is the creator of a short form of poetry called Blackjack and her work appears in literary magazines, anthologies and online publications. She is the author of About You, a collection of poetry “for women and the men they love” and A Mother’s War, written during her son’s two tours in Iraq to make the intensity of war a reality for everyone. Maritza participates in the Warrior Poetry Project at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, MD and serves on the Board of Directors of Split This Rock in Washington, DC.

Patrick Fontes. Currently I am a PhD candidate in history at Stanford University. My research involves border issues, Mexican religion, the Virgin Mary, immigration into the Southwest, and the criminalization of Chicano culture.
I grew up in Fresno, in a working class Chicano home.
During the Mexican revolution my great grandfather, Jesus Luna, crossed the border from Chihuahua into El Paso, then on to Fresno. In 1920 Jesus built a Mexican style adobe house on the outskirts of the city, it is still our family’s home and the center of our Mexican identity today. Nine decades of memories adorn the plastered walls inside. In one corner, a photo of Bobby Kennedy hangs next to an image of La Virgen de Zapopan; in another, an imposing altar to Guadalupe.
The smells, voices, sounds, hopes and ghosts of familia who have gone before me saturate my poems.

Jan G. Otterstrom F. distills the richness of his long life experience: family man, peace activist , Latin American and Caribbean consultant, internet developer, believer in Perpetual Revolution, producer of music and orchids, high school chemistry teacher, Christian (Mormon), guitarist, surfer, soccer player and fan, into a rich array of poems that , at times , please sentiments yet more often, trouble with bold freshness and verve.

His poetry is widely read outside of conventional channels. Having lived for over 23 years in Costa Rica, traveling frequently to Caribbean Islands and South America his poetry has an expatriate aver yet is a regional voice, maybe filling an A.R. Ammon's dream from Ammon's poem - a sunny calm clime in which to hang onto some wrong idea about the nature of things.

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