Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Chicanarte: L.A. Mural Ban. Banned Books Update. News 'n Notes. On-Line Floricanto

Dispatch From Muraltown: Ban Remains In Place.

Michael Sedano

(City Hall, El Lay. July 12, 2012) I marvel at the City of Los Angeles’ palatial council chamber. Magnificent marble columns whose understated capitals allow eyes to wander across murals painted twenty feet overhead on vaulted alcoves. Up there above my head, Calliope stands like a sprig of mistletoe in Winter.  I toss my speaking notes and go with poetry, a la brava.

The City of Los Angeles Planning Commission meets today to take public comment, mine included, on a final draft recommendation to the City Council on a mural ordinance that seeks to separate commercial signage from original art murals. The Commission ultimately doesn’t decide, postponing final consideration until the Fall.

What dire offense from art loving causes spring. The people in the back of the chambers come and go talking of Michelangelo’s descendants-in-art filling half the chamber. The other half fills with anti-Walmart activists. We’re all here to grind our axes.

The muralist community arrives with disappointment, anger, resentment toward the process and elements proposed. Artists and groups worked closely with the Commission in crafting an earlier proposal that Commission bureaucrats have morphed into today’s mishmash of ill-understood provisions and new, bad ideas.

Margaret Garcia, Yami Duarte
The intent is marvelous. A court banned all signs and murals a few years ago. Today’s draft rules seek to open the door to profusions of hand painted original "fine art murals"; create a definitive registry of murals past and going forward; impose a modest tax on artists who go through the permitting process; guarantee new mural approvals. Click for link to report version.

In a nod to new materials and technologies, and since the entire widely-disregarded ban on murals citywide resulted from an advertiser lawsuit, the proposed mural ordinance makes room for digital commercial signage as temporary murals. Here the medium is the message: Plastics.  The proposal aims to codify things like wrapping tall buildings in 1000 square foot sheets of vinyl, as much as 100 feet high—eight-story buildings. 

Vinyl is toxic and non-biodegradable, several artists aver. A vinyl sign releases lethal compounds as it degrades in some landfill. After an ordained lifespan wrapped around some tall building, that digital sign will ooze carcinogens into the environment casí forever. Speakers suggest the ordinance could specify hand painted on biodegradable substrates, temporary murals needn't go vinyl.

One artist points out the irony in the City’s recent ban of plastic grocery bags. The audience laughs and the Commissioners look abashed. Woo laughs, likely happy he won’t be dealing with that political hot potato. Today marks the appointee's final meeting.

The most potent message on vinyl comes from Margaret Garcia who observes that recent vinyl sign orders went to Germany for printing. In an election year the potent message will be headline grabbers:
Sacramento Bee: Arts Commission Sends Los Angeles Jobs Overseas.
Los Angeles Times: New Mural Regulation Offshores Region Jobs.
LA Weekly: Villaraigosa Promotes Outsourcing Local Jobs to Foreign Companies.

Some artists understand the proposal dictates mural artists must work for free. The executive summary states an Original Art Mural “not be for compensation.”

I trust the “no compensation” fear results from misreading the proposal. The building owner is the one enjoined from compensation, not the artist, though the language reads ambiguously enough to generate a lawsuit. Section 6 numbered paragraph 5 tells readers “The applicant shall certify in the registration application that no compensation for the display of the mural or the right to place the mural on the property will be given to or received by the property owner or leaseholder.”

That’s an inspired tactic to prevent advertisers from hanging a billboard and calling it a mural. Under the proposed ruling a huge vinyl ad displaying only a logo would be a mural, but the wall owner cannot receive payment for the space.

Payment rules, the changes recommended in the Staff report, intricacies and loopholes, access and application details will be the subject of a legal forum sponsored by Mural Conservancy of Los Angeles, Thursday July 19 at Highland Park's Avenue 50 Studio.

My one minute at the rostrum begins with Keats’ still unravished bride holding out her arm in mid-gesture, forever. It's a moment like today's decision. Keats in another poem tells the commissioners a thing of beauty is a joy forever, unless prohibited from expression because the wall is not part of a 5-unit building.
Isabel Rojas-Williams, Mural Conservancy of Los Angeles
Commissioners worked like hell to avoid regulating expression and respect art. The Commissioners probably assume they do, respect art. They clearly enjoy regulating it, having kicked around a mural regulation for six years now. Ni modo. They’ve defined “mural” approximately respectfully.

I close my shaky impromptu evoking Shelly’s Ozymandias. I figure the Commissioners know this one, too. "BEHOLD", I paraphrase, "all that you can see." Do you know why there’s only a few birds and a vast empty desert and that single lonely statue? This is what comes of regulating art. I exercise poetic license and allege Ozymandias prohibited people from painting their own houses.

The Chair asks a long question. My bad hearing catches the essence, to wit, “what’s your point, what part of the proposed regulation do you oppose?” I clarify, I object that murals are permitted only on residences with five or more units. “It’s a matter of individual freedom,” I conclude. I am three seconds overtime. I shut up and return to my camera.

Michael Woo’s farewell speech flows along a six or seven point legal brief. He’s a practiced speaker but delivers with an attorney’s punch. Everyone else tends toward folksy and laid back officialese. Evidently, Woo’s been on the wrong end of otherwise-unanimous votes and his point five argues there’s too much unanimity in this group. Youse guys need to dig into the issues more passionately. The next point draws applause when Woo signposts it as the last one.

When he concludes and Woo’s colleagues get to say good-bye for the Record, most bite their tongue and the agenda moves on.

Woo makes sensible arguments about city-making. But he needs to lighten up big time.  Persuasion grows out of finding what works for the ears right there, what Aristotle's translators call the “available means of persuasion for a given audience.”

This audience entertains thoughts of tarring and feathering but keeps a civil tongue standing at the lectern. Cameras capture the backs of speakers’ heads. An honor roll of artists whose walls make LA the mural capital of the world comes to the microphone. The Commissioners appear interested in the commentary. They listen to the artists' one-minutes, factoring in how these speeches help the Commissioners regulate art. 

The Planning Commission delays final consideration to a future date, pending changes recommended by Staff, not the day's public comments. If the artist's messages got through, artist-endorsed changes will appear in the next final draft.  For now, Los Angeles’ mural painters will cling to hopes like vinyl clings to money the Commissioners will let artists paint their own homes, better protect the environment, keep jobs at home.

Banned Books Update: Arizona Ban On Schooling Mexicans Remains In Place

Arizona and TUSD's book-banning power continues undeterred. No amount of outrage, shaming, derision stands in their way or the highway. No judge has yet declared Arizona nor TUSD illegal educators. 

Books and the Mexican American Studies curriculum are still banned in Arizona U.S.A.

News 'n Notes
Barrio Writers Programs in TX and CA

Barrio Writers, a program launched in Southern California's Orange County by writer Sarah Rafael García, has grown to include an Austin, Texas program. Current activities feature the original Southern California chapter.

Free summer writing instruction for people 13-21 years old starts July 28, running through August 11, 2012. Students will attend classes on the Cal State University Fullerton campus, hosted by the Chicana and Chicano Studies Department. Significant participation also comes from the public service newser Voice of OC.

According to a Barrio Writers press release, García launched the program Summer of 2009 in Santa Ana, California. Since then, García has been recognized in 2010 as among “Women Making a Difference”, and in 2011 Orange County Department of Education recognized her “Outstanding Contributions to Education”. This year, García's established a Barrio Writers partnership with the Center of Mexican Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. Region media leader Latinometro offers internships in its news and public service departments.

The Fullerton writing course runs August 6 to 10, 1 to 4pm, featuring workshops, field trips, and a public reading on August 11.

Voice of OC is providing internship opportunities and co-hosting a public Barrio Writers Informational Session introducing the summer program on July 28, 2012, from 2 to 4pm. On-campus and community organizations attending will discuss paths to higher education. One path will establish the Barrio Writers summer program as a bridge to campus.

Barrio Writers anthologies give program writers their first publication, and sale. All profits from sales of  the 2012  book will be returned to the Barrio Writers program for future years. García's goal is  to publish a new edition each year.

Visit Barrio Writers website for additional information and enrollment packets. Barrio Writers and Sara Rafael García welcome comments and inquiries via Facebook: Barrio Writers and Twitter: BarrioWriters. Email:barriowriters@gmail.com 

News 'n Notes
San Antonio's Gemini Ink Litfest Underway

Last week, La Bloga published a link to the Texas GOP's education platform so readers can see for themselves the words "We oppose the teaching of higher order thinking skills"in an earnest political statement rather than political satire. Shock and awe.

I suppose the brittle partisans of that ilk don't get out much, at any rate not around regular, decent folks. Thus I'd encourage those living in Bexar County to enroll in one of Gemini Ink's University Without Walls literary experiences among regular gente. Upcoming is a music writing class and a Yoga health class. I'd enjoy seeing one of those TeaPublicans take that Yoga class seriously enough to "get it." In the 60s we called it tune in turn on drop out.

In one of those parts of Texas where gente exhibit higher order thinking skills, San Antonio's Gemini Ink marshals sufficient resources to hire an out-of-town industry professional to run the place. Las Cruces NM's Sheila Black has moved to the Texas metropolis assuming the reins as "Executive | Artist Director."

La Bloga extends congratulations to Gemini Ink and Ms Black, and warm encouragement for their Mission. Read further at Gemini Ink.

La Bloga On-Line Floricanto for Mid July

Wrapping up La Bloga-Tuesday for the middle of July 2012 are five poets bringing six works:
Tara Evonne Trudell, Mari Herreras, Elizabeth Marino, Hedy Garcia Treviño, Francisco X. Alarcón

“Quoting Zapata” by Tara Evonne Trudell
"Just a Girl from South Seventh" by Mari Herreras
"Daughters of 1898" by Elizabeth Marino
"Las Tías" by Hedy Garcia Treviño
“SB 1070 & 1492: A Historical Recount / SB 1070 y 1492: Recuento histórico" by Francisco X. Alarcón

Quoting Zapata
by Tara Evonne Trudell

quoting Zapata
while voting Obama
in a time
when being brown
is a crime
rascist fools
USA rules
Monsanto king
of everything
fake and untrue
the new
killing fields
poisoning the poor
the constant need
to feed
the fat
and greedy
Nazi soliders
camouflaged hiding
human hunting
leading cactus borders
natural crossing
Indigenous breath
struggling to exhale
pausing pulse
natural migration
of hummingbirds
and butterflies
negotiating humanity
their needs
offering dirty work
lying in wait
banning books
angry desperation
to choke out
our culture
to feel us
their heavy handed
back room ways
banks governing
a society
paying war
our people
who speak
warrior words
trilling rhythms
of resistance

don't quote
if you can't handle
blood red
brown hands
raising fists
holding hearts
standing strong
drumming beats
fighting to resist
the occupation
of our motherland.

tara evonne trudell c/s july 8, 2012

Just a Girl from South Seventh
by Mari Herreras

How can I explain this life to you, except
she’s just a girl from South Seventh.
A girl, who on her way to mass every Sunday,
hid her gloves under a rock before
meeting her friend who didn’t have gloves.
They walked hand in hand. Same, equal.
She’s just a girl from South Seventh,
who cried with her sisters at the dinner table,
wondering if the rabbit on their plates was
the bunny from the backyard hutch they loved
and named the day before.

Snowy with red chile was all they had for dinner that night.
Their father yelled never make friends with dinner again.
She’s just a girl from South Seventh,
who still remembers her Christmas gifts.
Every year – fruit and an ottoman given to
each sister for radio listening.
At the end of the year, each seat permanently
bent from nights of fireside chats, serial radio shows
and the happiest news, the war
over, over, over.
She’s just a girl from South Seventh,
who had to learn Spanish so she could talk with her
great-grandmother, who made a brandy only
served on her Saint’s Day – the only day the sisters
allowed in the parlor. Although in the kitchen,
on the table where the sisters were born,
everyone gathered for carne machaca
great-grandmother dried in the back yard,
a yard guarded by the mean goose never anyone’s dinner or friend.
She’s just a girl from South Seventh,
who remembers speaking the same Spanish
she spoke to her great-grandmother to
friends on the school playground,
only to be slapped by a teacher
only to be slapped hard and told that English
was the only language they could speak, even if
it wasn’t the only language they could speak.
She’s just a girl from South Seventh,
who saved Spanish for home, weekends, summer
at El Cine Plaza to watch movies with the beautiful
Maria Felix and laugh at Catinflas.
There was no Mickey Mouse Club at this theater.
Just Spanish, love stories, Ranchero music.
Life in what she remembers as the “neighborhood”
everyone now calls Barrio Viejo, the destroyed
Barrio Viejo that ripped, ripped, ripped
street-hearts apart.
She’s just a girl from South Seventh,
nicknamed Papus and told they suspect she
was dropped off by Indians from down the road
and adopted. Her father would remind them to look
at her face – she’s an Herreras, he'd say.
Look at that, she’s an Herreras.
She’s just a girl from South Seventh,
told by her great-grandmother to never buy
black licorice at the candy store on Fourth Avenue
the dark, black, dirty candy she loved was not for ladies.
Never to be eaten, except in secret, just like Spanish
on the playground, gloves hidden under rocks,
and sometimes the cultura she’d explain this way,
“I am a girl from South Seventh.”

by Elizabeth Marino

Puerto Rico, Cuba, the Philippines, Guam: determined,
we lived in the spaces between names.  From Spanish navy backwash  
to the hairy back of the United States Protectorate of 1917, we took a step back,
as a nation non-republica, self-determined, living in the spaces between, calling ourselves Borinquen.

We journeyed under no country’s passport, named ourselves without permission, we lived
in the spaces between. Mestizo people do not fit easy anthropological categories -- we went
unnamed – confused when choosing for our selves a "race" on US forms.  A sun people,
the light ones stayed out of the sun, as if born an Anglo Daughter of the Revolution.

We gave the world a test group for the first Pill. We knew the power of our own fertility.  Does
the medical professions insure our unborn children proper care? Does our created knowledge shine like
beacons throughout the Academy, or are our studies the background work for others' achievements?
Step out, daughters, step out.                                 Endurance can be the knife under the skirt.

-- Elizabeth Marino

by Hedy Garcia Treviño

They sang 'canciones'
that harmonized with the song of the wind
the yearly ritual of preparing the dried Maize was underway
laughter would echo off the canyon walls

Bits of corn would fly in the air
landing on the ground
lighting up the soil
like golden stardust
Leaving trails of powered corn as they walked
leaving trails for little girls in braids
there by the river the trail that leads home remains
covered in stardust awaiting the rain

by Francisco X. Alarcón

in 1492 the first deed
Christopher Columbus did
was to ask Natives

“where is the gold?”
then said, “since this is India,
you’re now Indians ”

took possession of
all the land, all the waters,
everything around

declared Natives to be
all squatters living on land
given to him by God

started to build fences
and formed the first Migra
to run up Natives

put them to work in mines,
tend and harvest crops,
serve as nannies, maids

Columbus went on
raiding towns, demanding
Natives for their papers

he founded the “Tent City”
where held hundreds under
inhumane conditions

“they all are illegal aliens
and as such, have no rights”
Columbus affirmed

in a press conference
holding a copy of the anti-
indigenous SB 1070 law

© Francisco X. Alarcón
July 5, 2012

por Francisco X. Alarcón

lo primero que hizo
Cristóbal Colón en 1492 
fue preguntar a los nativos”

“¿dónde está el oro?”
y luego dijo: “esto es India,
y por eso Uds. son indios”

tomó posesión de
toda la tierra, las aguas
y todo que ahí existía

declaró invasores a todos 
los habitantes de estas tierras
dotadas a él por Dios

comenzó a erigir cercas, 
formó la primera migra
para aprehender nativos

y ponerlos a laborar
en minas, cosechar campos,
servir de nanas y sirvientas

Colón siguió con redadas
demandando a nativos
por sus papeles 

fundó la “Ciudad de las Carpas”
donde encarceló a cientos
en condiciones inhumanas

“como forasteros illegales
no tienen derecho alguno”
Columbus afirmó

en una conferencia de prensa
sosteniendo una copia de la ley  
anti-indígena SB 1070

© Francisco X. Alarcón
5 de Julio de 2012


“Quoting Zapata” by Tara Evonne Trudell
"Just a Girl from South Seventh" by Mari Herreras
"Daughters of 1898" by Elizabeth Marino
"Las Tías" by Hedy Garcia Treviño
“SB 1070 & 1492: A Historical Recount / SB 1070 y 1492: Recuento histórico" by Francisco X. Alarcón

Tara Evonne Trudell
Tara Evonne Trudell, a mother of four, is working on her BFA in Media Arts with an emphasis in film and audio. It is through that art, combined with her passion for poetry that she is able to express fearlessness of spirit for her family, people, community, social awareness, and most importantly her love of earth.

Mari Herreras and mom
I am a fifth-generation Tucsonan who studied Creative Writing at the University of Arizona. Currently, I work as staff writer for the Tucson Weekly. I am also the lucky mom of a beautiful 11-year-old son, and the daughter of a strong woman who is the "girl from South Seventh," in the poem above. I am honored to have had my poems part of Poets Responding to SB 1070 and La Bloga.

Elizabeth Marino
Elizabeth Marino is a Puerto Rican poet and educator, based in Chicago. Her chapbook, Debris: Poems & Memoir is available through Puddin'head Press. She holds an MA in English from the UIC Writers' Program.

Francisco X. Alarcón
Francisco X. Alarcón, award winning Chicano poet and educator, is author of twelve volumes of poetry, including, From the Other Side of Night: Selected and New Poems (University of Arizona Press 2002), and Snake Poems: An Aztec Invocation (Chronicle Books 1992). His latest book is Ce•Uno•One: Poems for the New Sun (Swan Scythe Press 2010). His book of bilingual poetry for children, Animal Poems of the Iguazú (Children’s Book Press 2008), was selected as a Notable Book for a Global Society by the International Reading Association. His previous bilingual book titled Poems to Dream Together (Lee & Low Books 2005) was awarded the 2006 Jane Addams Honor Book Award. He created a new Facebook page,  “Poets Responding to SB 1070.” The University of Arizona Press is presently preparing an anthology co-edited by Francisco X. Alarcón that will include more than 100 poets that have posted poems on this Facebook page. He teaches at the University of California, Davis


Unknown said...

Great issue! I love all the poems as well-Francisco

Anonymous said...

Another wonderful issue filled with important news and poetry.
Gracias, Carmen

Hedy Garcia Trevino said...

Sorry my bio was late:

Hedy Garcia Trevino is a Chicana poet and artist who lives in the beautiful village of Ocate, New Mexico(curently working in Phoenix)on the same land her ancestors settled before New Mexico was a territory of the United States.

Her work has been published in numerous journals and publications and she has participated in numerous poetry readings. Additionally she is one of the active moderators for an online group, poets responding to SB 1070 where she has published over 40 of her own poems.

Hedy Garcia Trevino said...

Great issue and thank you for all you do it is appreciated.