Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Review: Waking Up in the Land of Glitter. Art News: Circle of Women Stamp Project

Monday, March 8 observed "International Women's Day. Tuesday's La Bloga extends that observation one additional day with a pair of women-related columns. This way we can have two days for women, and only 363 days not for.

Kathy Cano-Murillo. Waking Up in the Land of Glitter. NY: Grand Central Publishing, 2010.
ISBN: 9780446509244

Circle of Women Stamp Project

Michael Sedano

Kathy Cano-Murillo stands as one of the prime expositors of what I want to term Situation Comedy Literature, though some might say "Chica Lit". The term comes out of my memories of television's "My Little Margie," "Our Miss Brooks," and "I Love Lucy." A woman puts herself in a sticky predicament and by dint of clever machination and blind luck makes everything work out in the end, always leaving its audience with a heart-warming chuckle and a half hour or hour of mindless entertainment.

Covering Waking Up in the Land of Glitter's 302 pages (336 including appendices), requires a little more than an hour, but with the passage of a couple days or a long airplane ride, the reader is sure to be left with the pleasure of largely mindless entertainment. That's a good thing, despite--or because of--the formulaic, almost stereotypic characters and abbreviated plotting.

Three women share a common interest in crafts and crafting. Estrella--Star to everyone but her parents--and Chloe are whitewashed twenty-something Mexican Americans who meet and strike up a mutual animosity. Ofie, Star's best friend, is young thirties basket case who takes refuge in crummy craft projects. Star calls herself an artist but doesn't make art; she books talent into her family's restaurant-cum-gallery and is in love with an accomplished artist. Chloe--Crafty Chloe--is a local television celebrity on the arts beat, "a role model for artistic Latinas". She does a regular crafts spot but secretly hates crafts. Chloe's assistant does all the crafting and seethes in the background as Chloe shines in the klieg lights taking all the credit.

Things fall apart between Star and Theo after she spraypaints happy faces across his masterpiece mosaic mural. Cute as she is, Theo cannot bear the string of vast projects undertaken with half vast ideas that is Star's modus operandi in life. On and off camera, Chloe lives a lie. Sexually manipulated by a sleazy station manager, shacked up with a passionless loser, as well as stealing the assistant's craft creations, to her mind Chloe's ambition justifies her sins. Poor Ofie. Obese, frumpy, a dismal housekeeper, she spends more money on craft supplies than running her suegra-dominated household. Ofie's craft work sounds disastrously pathetic.

The "waking up" part of the title reflects how Star, Chloe, and Ofie come to realizations of the emptiness of their lives and learn to see value in others. Poor Ofie. Her friends laugh about her creations behind her back even as they reinforce her behavior to her face. Learning this truth, she breaks down and cuts herself off from her new-found friends.

Star's irresponsibility comes of being la consentida of hippie new age parents who indulge their only child's every whim, until the grafitti vandalism incident. They fire her from the family business and demand she pay rent to live in their home. Forced to stand on her own two feet she makes small to giant steps, becoming more self-assured by learning to work in mutual respect with peers, especially her chola prima Star had blamed for Star's own misbehavior.

Chloe's awakening comes of realizing that Star and Ofie have a freedom and happiness that Chloe has walled off from her own life, just to be a big teevee personality. Hers is a public humiliation, broadcast all over Phoenix when her assistant and loutish lover conspire to unmask Chloe's false face and screw-the-boss-to-get-ahead antics.

A child shall lead them. Ofie emerges healthy and prosperous, the lowest of the low to the highest of the three, after an outcast boy teaches Ofie to crochet. Ofie becomes the Craft Olympics speed crochet champion, garnering teevee spots and books. After being the butt of cruelty, readers will long for a more elaborated description of the contest here.

Star and Chloe get their respective men, and thus, happiness. Ofie's already got a loyal man supporting her through every rough spot she brings upon herself. Star gets Theo back, Chloe has a one-night stand but it sure looks like authentic love. And they probably live happily ever.

Waking Up in the Land of Glitter isn't going to land on anyone's list of canonical Latina literature, and you're sure to spot glaring Spanish deficiencies here and there (Los cuatro milpas?) but that's not the point. The book is for a certain reader and serves her him well. Cano-Murillo provides a woman's eye view of some young women's thought patterns, despite the oddball behaviors, that is sure to entertain a reader looking for a couple hours of mindless entertainment. Planning on a cross-country airplane ride? I have just the book to make that boring journey pass quickly and leave you with a smile on your face.

Circle of Women Stamp Project Launches First Gallery Show

I am happy that noted artist Margaret Garcia invited me to participate in the Circle of Women Stamp Project. My piece is the second from left in the announcement below. Margaret has already arranged two gallery exhibitions, the second coming in July at Avenue 50 Studio in Northeast Los Angeles, the initial exhibition in East Los Angeles' premiere art space, ChimMaya Gallery. Following the announcement are Margaret Garcia's thoughts on bringing this still-evolving show and project to fruition. You can view more of the work, and new additions as they come in, at Ms. Garcia's Facebook Page. The individual prints are priced extremely affordable, allowing gente to buy several for themselves as well as treasured gifts. Organizers of local events may wish to bring the exhibit locally. Contact Margaret for details.

Our Federal Government’s STIMULUS PACKAGE does not in any way acknowledge or support what truly does need to be stimulated, cultivated and encouraged in our society and in the world.

I am inviting visual artists, poets, musicians, print-makers, or just people of culture to create a STAMP IMAGE. Each stamp will bring to life an affirmation which we desire to be STIMULATED OR CULTIVATED amongst us—for example, health, wealth, love, creativity, generosity, intuition, humility, faith, illumination, spirituality, forgiveness, intelligence, wisdom, courage, growth, tolerance, hope, vision, abundance, talent, music, kindness, fellowship, prosperity, etc.—whatever you are IN FAVOR OF…NOT AGAINST.

My hope is that the creation of these stamps will bring attention to what is truly important.

This project was conceived by Margaret Garcia as part of the Circle of Women. The red postmark of the Circle of Women will be placed on each print.

The final serigraph print size is 7" x 9-1/2".

PRINTER: The Master Printer is Ramon da La Rosa, who has worked with Artists, Ignacio Gomez, Shepard Fairey, Banksy, Ron English and Margaret Garcia

STAMP VALUE: My intent is to establish a market value of $20 per piece. The prints will belong fully to the artist.

STAMP EXHIBITIONS: There will be an exhibit of stamp art and opportunities for print exchanges. Venues in Los Angeles, Texas, Oxnard and San Francisco have expressed interest. To help support this worthwhile project, each artist will tithe 5 of their prints to the Circle of Women.

That's March's second Tuesday, a Tuesday like any other Tuesday, except You Are Here. Thank you for visiting La Bloga. See you next week.


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Unknown said...

Thank you for taking the time to read and review my book! I'm honored to be featured on La Bloga!

Zulmara said...

thanks for this post...women everywhere need to be proud of all we do...and I just love chica lit...