Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Antojado for tacos de papa. Troubling Chicana Chicano Art. Texas Teen Book Fest Gets It Right, After All?

Michael Sedano

The Gluten-free Chicano Cooks
Antojado for Tacos de Papa

The foto was one of those food shots that some tipos complain about on Facebook, tacos dorados in a frying pan.

I asked if the FB friend was frying the meat inside the tortilla? It's a technique my grandmother and my mother both utilized from time to time, that I never learned. Orozco’s Tacos, on Soto Street just south of the San Bernardino Freeway, made fried-in-the-shell tacos, too. Dang, that was some good eatin', raza, but Orozco's has long-since been ploughed under.

“Mashed potatoes,” she replied and instantly I grew all antojado for tacos de papa.
Chicanas Chicanos know the antoja. Something you see, or smell, fleetingly crosses your mind, and you gotta have some. Like the time I stopped in at Puerta de Oro restaurant in Vernon, starved with an antoja for chorizo, papas, and blanquillos.

That wasn’t on the menu, but that’s what I ordered. In the corner, the owner nodded at the order-taker and as she passed, said something. When she brought me my chow he got a plate, too. “Me hicistes antojado,” he smiled.

Like that.

The Gluten-free Chicano had some boiled potatoes left over from making potato salad in the icebox, so this recipe uses that. Mashed potatoes, rich buttery creamy mashed potatoes, make super tacos de papa, so next time your menu calls for mashed potatoes, make an extra cup. Tomorrow’s tacos for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, will be sure to please every eater at the table.

Plan on a couple tablespoons of filling for each taco and a minimum of two tacos per mouth.

1. Chop a green onion or two. Any onion will do, the Gluten-free Chicano likes the green mixed in with the papa.

2. Finely mince the potato. Stir in salt, pepper, the chopped onion.

3. Soften tortillas de maíz. I wrap torts in a dishtowel and microwave them for under a minute. Separate them immediately to prevent sticking together.

4. Spoon the papa mix into the softened tortillas. Set aside.

5. Chop tomato, cheese, lettuce. Set aside. This time of year, tomatoes from the garden add extra deliciousness to tacos. If you have aguacate, all the better. If there's a chile huero to chop or slice, all the mejor.

6. Pour good olive oil into a shallow frying pan. I use just enough to coat the bottom.

7. Turn burner to medium heat and get the oil boiling. Drop a tortilla crumb into the oil and if it sizzles, the oil is hot enough.

8. Carefully place the tacos into the oil and fry for a couple minutes.

9. Use tongs or a fork, turn when crispy brown.

10. Remove to a dish and stuff with lettuce, tomato, cheese. Aguacate, a chile, cilantro, chacun a son cosecha.

11. Serve with a good hot salsa.


Troubling Chicana Chicano Art at Avenue 50 Studio: Discussing Karen Mary Davalos’ Forthcoming Book

Karen Mary Davalos, Mario Trillo, Mental Menudo at Casa Sedano, 2007
My gosh, how the years fly past. In September 2007, Magu invited Karen Mary Davalos to my house for a Mental Menudo. Davalos was a professor at Loyola Marymount University at the time, interviewing Magu as part of an oral history series on Chicana Chicano artists, commissioned out of UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center.

Today, Karen Mary Davalos is professor at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, and Magu, Magu has transitioned, QEPD.

Magu, 2007
Davalos’ forthcoming book, from NYU Press, Chicana/o Art Since the Sixties: From Errata to Remix, is going to make a tonelada of gente sentimental about historical events, and open eyes to a significant but little-appreciated United States art movement.

The book fills a vacuum in art history. With Davalos' pioneering history text, academics, but more so, artists, will grow anxious for what’s to develop from our shared experience and history. Will the field develop? Will artists gain wall space, and make a living?

Kathy Gallegos introduces the discussion
That, at any rate, is the gist of the discussion convened at Northeast Los Angeles’ cultural treasure, Avenue 50 Studio, on Sunday July 10th. Director Kathy Gallegos, raza arte's hardest-working gallerist, kicked off the afternoon, introducing professor Karen Mary Davalos to an audience of artists, collectors, community members, academics and Ph.D. candidates.

Davalos introduced the panel--all of whom play important roles in her book. The panel included artists John Valadez and Sandra de la Loza, and academician Sybil Venegas—cited as one of the founders of Chicana Chicano art criticism. Each highlighted chapters of Davalos' much-needed research volume.

Karen Mary Davalos with the book's TOC on slide projection
Davalos’ perspective of necessity celebrates accomplishments of past curators—including de la Loza and Venegas—for having chipped a small niche into the monolithic world of big time art exhibitions.

Noting the earliest such assemblages gathered principally men, hanging more women reflects the duality of the struggle to popularize Chicanarte. It was Venegas and de la Loza who invited more women to open the field of curated shows to a decent cross-section of important artists.

The Minnesota scholar epitomizes the essence of the struggle when she observes that getting a few hangings in major galleries, such as Los Angeles County Museum of Art, produced only tokens, nothing substantial has come of them. For example, the vaunted Getty museum has yet to sponsor a summer intern at Avenue 50 Studio, despite the Getty's lionizing of itself as a supporter of Chicana Chicano art. Getty does support--but keeps the effort exclusive to itself and a selected big places. Akin to other industries, there's no "farm system" to grow experience for youth.

The 2011 LACMA exhibit, Asco: Elite of the Obscure, A Retrospective, 1972-1987, offers a more public example of tokenism and disregard. LATimes critic Christopher Knight brushes aside the art in favor of a facile pun while glancing at Asco’s fashion and public persona, noting One great feature of the group's early years, before it fell into evident disarray in the 1980s (Asco finally disbanded in 1987), is how assertively stylish the artists are in the abundant photo-documentation. Posing like bored fashion models around a grungy Malibu sewage drainpipe, Asco put the chic in Chicano.

Davalos asked her guests to riff on themes she develops in various chapters. Her introductory remarks, an historical perspective, reflects the chapter on “errata.” Davalos suggests that Chicana Chicano exhibitions are much like the corrections and acknowledgements of minor flaws in larger work. One symptom of status as an afterthought, or footnote: there's no textbook suitable for a college or high school class covering Chicana Chicano art, despite its existence since 1848 when Mexican Americans became errata of the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo. Moreover, Davalos points out the first Ph.D. in Chicano Art History was completed only a few years ago!

John Valadez
Valadez reflected on the French thirst to learn things Chicano and California that he experienced in a residency connected to a 2014 exhibition at Musée d'Aquitaine.

Sandra de la Loza standing, Sybil Venegas, John Valadez
De la Loza focused on her artivism work of recent times, public installations such as large scale altares for Día de los Muertos, and a zumba die-in protesting an LA gang injunction.

Sybil Venegas
Venegas offered gratitude that her fellow scholar’s invitation required Venegas to revisit some of her earlier papers and exhibitions, to take stock of where Chicana Chicano art has been in her life.

Davalos credits Venegas’ early art history publications for helping create the field of Chicano Chicana art history. Any scholar embarking on a research project will begin with Sybil Venegas' publications.

Venegas doesn’t deny that, but self-abashedly recounts how she seemingly stumbled into the field, and how she became a curator in spite of herself, having been ripped-off by “name” curators who exploited Venegas’ personal acquaintances with artists and her role in the artistic milieu.

Sybil Venegas, Linda Vallejo, Judithe Hernández, Patssi Valdez. Magu behind Valdez, 2009. Foto:msedano
The energy and excitement for the discussion begs an important question; perhaps Karen Mary Davalos’ introductory chapter will address it. It’s a question WWII and Korea Veteran, and veterano Chicano sculptor Armando Baeza constantly asks—he and Magu used to go around and around over it—what is “Chicano art”?

Facebook post, July 10, 2016
Common at Ave50: Standing Room Only audience engages lively discussion
Chicana/o Art Since the Sixties: From Errata to Remix described as follows: Davalos combines decolonial theory with extensive archival and field research to offer a new critical perspective on Chicana/o art. Using Los Angeles as a case study, she develops an interdisciplinary model for a comprehensive art history that considers not only artists and art groups, their cultural production, and the exhibitions that feature their work but also curators, collectors, critics, and advocates.

La Bloga will share distribution details of this edition upon publication in the Fall. Place advance orders with college booksellers and independent booksellers now. Earlier editions may be available using ISBN 9780895511614.

Late-breaking news
Texas Organizes Teen Book Festival for 2/3 of Its Teenagers, Until Raza Speaks Up

The self-congratulatory broadsides were arriving left and right. The Texas Teen Book Festival would feature this smiling face, and that smiling face, and happy as any reader would be to see teens encouraged to read, and see writers write for teens, bitter dismay struck raza observers that 1/3 of the state’s teenagers—Mexicans, Chicanas Chicanos, Mexican Americans—had been totally excluded from the roster of smiling faces.

Then Sarah Rafael García spoke up, with fire. She struck a chord.

In a classic example of a chastened organization, a few years ago, public teevee blithely approved a Ken Burns film project on World War II that, like the TTBF, completely ignored the role of Chicanos in one of this nation’s bloodiest conflicts.

Raza raised the alarm and Burns told them to go to hell. Raza asked "why does Ken Burns hate Chicanos?" Ken Burns asked what part of "go to hell" did we not understand?

Only after PBS felt the heat would Burns grudgingly agree to expand the WWII project to acknowledge a token number of raza warriors.

La Bloga congratulates Sarah Rafael García for raising a ruckus that touched the conscience and souls of TTBF organizers. García has been invited to help TTBF’s organizers diversify this year’s line-up. This is late-breaking news and La Bloga lacks details. García begins the Macondo Workshop this week and will provide details as time allows.

Details will be forthcoming next week when La Bloga-Tuesday publishes responses to García’s Twitter and Facebook call for submissions to a select group of writers.

García, who fears becoming known as the “angry woman of Texas letters,” for protesting the closed mind MFA program at her alma mater, organized a call for papers via Facebook and La Bloga. The response has been substantial, from publishers and writers and parents. García writes:

We are inviting youth, educators, librarians, parents and writers to contribute to a collection of reasons why Mexican American writers should be included in the 2016 Texas Teens Book Festival (TTBF).

Although TTBF has featured such writers in the past, this year, Mexican American writers are not included in the line up of featured authors. We want to stress that their process should make a special effort to represent 35% of the population in Texas.

We plan on releasing this collection to the public via an online publication. Rather than collecting signatures to show our visibility, we are determined to not only put our words to action but to also educate, inspire and list Mexican American writers our community is interested in reading and seeing at such book festivals. We are not limiting anyone, feel free to include among the Mexican American writers other poc YA writers within your 200 words.

The 200 words could take on any format: poetry, prose, rant, flash fiction, proclamation, any language you wish too.

Teenagers need to read, need exposure to literary voices that reflect their world. For a festival to call itself "Texas" and "Teen" to have such a blatantly exclusionary program inculcates ignorance and prejudice. These organizers must live horribly isolated lives that, until Sarah Rafael García spoke up, the organizers had given no thought to deliberate inclusiveness. Now, chastened by the pedo and having an epiphany, García, for one, has been invited to help organize this year's TTBF, as well as a role at the adult-oriented Texas Book Festival.

Personal note: My father, Pfc. Marcel Sedano, won World War II. A machine gunner in Patton’s 777 Tank Battalion, my dad’s tank, the C’est la Guerre, was in the task force that fought a 15 hour battle to reach the center of Leipzig, the last stronghold of the Reich. His was the first U.S. tank to reach Leipzig City Hall. With C’est la Guerre’s arrival, German resistance collapsed. The war was won. Way to go, Dad, a Chicano won WWII.

1 comment:

Paul Aponte said...

¡Que viva la raza! Great job Sarah, Pfc. Marcel Sedano, and Em Sedano. Thank you! Paul Aponte