Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Magulandia, Cereus Bees, Sukkot, On-line Floricanto

Magic at UCI Magulandia Opening
Michael Sedano

Darling, I am growing older
Silver threads among the black

I am humming the tune to that song on the drive south from Pasadena to Irvine, where UCI’s art school scheduled the public opening of its PST:LA/LA blockbuster event, Aztlán to Magulandia: The Journey of Chicano Artist Gilbert “Magu” Lujan. The song acknowledges my canas, and my forgetfulness. I forgot to bring the camera.

La Bloga shared some fotos captured at September’s gala reception, (link) an enchanted evening worth remembering. Absent from that time are the faces gathered at the October 7 public opening reception, many here for their second visit. The gente here have warm, engaging moments with peers, remembering their friend.

All things considered, the best foto of the two events could not be pictured, the visit from Magu’s spirit that manifested above the gathering. Really. On Facebook, several artists remarked on Magu’s joining the festivities on the non-smoking campus.

‪Peter E Carrillo noted, “Yup the Monarch Butterfly was All over. I definitely noticed it. Signs of reincarnation.‬‬‬” Kathleen Roman noted, “Yes with the Magical Mariposa !!” ‪Jose Lozano said, “Flew in front of my face, I grinned!‬‬‬” I was enraptured at the silent presence. I rocked back slapped my thighs with both palms and, like Lozano, grinned in recognition.

Naiche Lujan, Magu’s son, opens his welcoming remarks wondering “what my Dad would think about all this today?” The answer arrives within a few breaths, the question still hanging in the ambiente. A gorgeous Monarch butterfly floats out of the tree line and dives toward Naiche. Almost within fingertips of a mighty leap, the stocky monarch swoops away, gliding up on thermals rising from the white stretch of concrete. It was singing.

Naiche’s talk continues and the butterfly returns. Naiche reads his eulogy poem (link) to his Dad and the mariposa returns. And returns again. And again, each visit elusively out of frame with Naiche, the butterfly hovering a moment over him. A photographer’s “missed that one” impossible moment, people saw from all around the gallery quad, totally enchanting all with eyes to see. The moment offers, too, a bit of Magu’s humor for anyone not with the spirits. Asked by a collector to sign a prismacolor drawing on the front, Magu refused. How will anyone know it’s yours, the collector challenged? “You just have to know, that’s all.”

Did you see that butterfly? Órale, Magu, I’m happy you approved. The gente who put on this career retrospective worked their nalgas off making the show, opening October 7 continuing through December 16, pleasing and amazing to all in attendance. Especially your friends, ése.

Pola was there, with Kat Roman. Mario showed the delivery van. The Wilmington Dukes showed up with their rides. Totally sharp. Your brothers were there. You knew all those artists stopped in front of an arresting work, “I never saw this before.” “Don’t you love that one over there?” “Where did he keep all this?” “I have one like this!” “If only I’d bought one then.” I’m not going to name names, who showed up today. You saw them out there munching chips and churros.

In Search of Magulandia offers a studied panorama of the artist’s career in its paper and clay exemplars, from doodling studies to magnificent masterpieces. The two gallery-show informs a public’s appreciation for how and where a known work fits into a developmental arc across the life’s oeuvre. The show offers one delight after another. Magu sure loved automobiles. And friendly, companionable figures. And pyramidal construction. His sculpture turns Magu’s styled Magulandians into three dimensional personages of stunning presence. Displayed along a “U” each can be studied and loved from all angles.

Framed and showcased studies, pencil drawings and prismacolors, fill an elongated display case filling the centeraisle of the paintings and drawings gallery. Visitors bounce from case to wall then back to case when a space vacates.

Anyone who makes art appreciates Magu’s media on display at UCI. Magu’s work ranges from small cardboard palm trees to art paper primacolors to clay figures, often in mixed media constructions. Content includes a couple of nudes but mainly denizens of the Magulandia barrio, the vatos, kids cruising, tricked out flamed up lowered fanciful swollen carruchas, and most gente in peaceful relationships with one another and their world.

For the uninitiated, the show gives an introduction to foundational Chicano art. Arte grew from the movimiento at a time schools were churning out MFA artists and critics. This professionalized chicanarte via gallery walls. In turn, the movimiento encouraged the raza’s population of autodidacts with no training but fabulous output. Chicano arte exploded into view in conjunction with and due to Magu’s ideas, images, and way with words. Magu is the O.G. chicano artivist, probably invented artivism through Magu’s Mental Menudo series, a hybrid creation mixing customs of tertullia with literary salon with a good, structured platica.

I made a point to talk to Hal Glicksman and Rhea Anastas, the curators. Hal was all over the place and I ran into Rhea by happenstance bidding my adieus to Jaime DeJong, Director of Marketing & Communications, once again congratulating her on a magnificent marketing and publicity effort, particularly UCI’s rich gallery take-ones, a 16-page color pamphlet that includes Naiche Lujan’s poem and several details from drawings and sculptures, and a comprehensive gallery listing in the sculpture hall.

To curate a show like Magulandia is a career apex. Congratulations for merit and high standards to Anastas and Glicksman. Similarly, holding the show helps put Clare Trevor School of the Arts in sharp focus as a place to keep an eye on ongoing programming.

Glicksman, who was Gilbert Lujan’s MFA adviser, writes a spectacular essay in the show’s eponymous catalog. Get the book. Leaf through devour every image. Then treat yourself to Glicksman’s sparkling text placing Magu in context of his art history upbringing.

Though there may be few gallery-goers unacquainted with chicanarte, those few would find a complex and useful introduction to Chicano Art until December 8 at UCI. Seeing the show and having the book produces a uniquely informed experience. For the “know it when I see it” audience, the two galleries will have a life-altering impact. Three people won’t like it. The same three won’t get it.

The monograph-catalog of the show offers comprehensive scholarship on the artist’s style (link), Magu’s role in the emergence of Chicano Art, his inquiry via art of chicano sensibilities and aesthetics. Copies of the book might still be available signed by the family. The color plates alone make this a worthwhile addition to one’s fine arts library or coffee table book for idle visitors.

It’s as unlikely as likely your visit to UCI will be inspired by a butterfly, don’t let that deter anyone. Plan a full day to visit both galleries repeatedly. Viewers find compelling favorites and return time and again to stand and take in that particular piece. Photography urged. Ironic, considering my lenseless state. Take along a picnic lunch. The student food court features corporate branded fast food. There’s no in and out parking.

Bees Cereus

Drought claimed my front yard sin, a green lawn in this desert. Replacing turf with cacti and drought tolerant plants brings the front yard pleasure of cactus blossoms and honeybees. This night-blooming Cereus greets the morning light fully open to welcome honeybees and bumble bees and other pollinators.

The plant has bloomed three times this year, once I liberated it from its pot. It is from a cutting 40 years back, from my mom’s garden. Around this area grow several massive specimens, twelve feet tall that cover themselves in white trumpets.

SUKKOT and the Urban Farmer

Skirball Cultural Center made an irresistible offer to select local small businesses and urban farmers. A no-charge booth at the center’s first annual Harvest Festival in exchange for staffing the all-day event with displays of abundance and preferably locally-made goods to sell. And beer and sake to taste.

Cultural tourists moving up Sepulveda Pass from the Valley are likelier to head for Getty Center Drive than the exit to the spectacular Skirball campus with its ample parking, multi-level edifices, and beautiful promenades connecting the two principal buildings.

An elevated stage with a powerful PA system faces Skirball’s central courtyard where visitors join each other dancing to a multicultural lineup that segues from a “mostly Kosher” klezmer band to a Latina Latino band featuring drumming, dancing, and infectious melodies. The dancers play havoc with the local vendors’ customer relations, but during breaks in the music and dancing, people flock to stands like McDonald’s Urban Farm to taste black-skinned avocado, hot pepper jelly, learn what to do with beautiful curved squash abundance.

The Altadena family farm is the sole booth to capture the traditional Sukkah look. Farm Manager Amelia McDonald lashed grain corn stalks to her storefront and a few overhead to symbolize the open roof of tradition. Abundance here includes brown, green, and white free range eggs, hot peppers, grain corn for milling or decoration, chard, summer squash, early winter squash and pumpkins galore. McDonald’s Urban Farm is an enterprise of Michael Sedano’s daughter.

Familia and multiculturality are the words of the day at Skirball. The Harvest Festival launches the Skirball’s week-long sukkot festival. The welcoming pamphlet explains, “Jews around the world invite family and friends into their sukkot to eat, gather, and celebrate the bounty of the season.” I spoke with the center’s marketing director and a marketing entrepreneur who organized today’s event, the center’s first. Based on the early attendance and high spirits on a sparkling Fall day, Harvest Festival is sure to become one of three annual events at Skirball, Hanukkah, a puppet festival in Spring, and now Sukkot Harvest Festival. Head up the pass to the Skirball. And the Getty.

Home Boy Industries features merchandise and bread. The woman on the
right pointed out the beautiful mulit-colored wheat bread she kneaded.
The center’s Ahmanson Building hosts a second marketplace in a sedate setting sans dancers and musicians. In place of traditional booths, or Sukkah, a half-circle of tables rings the glass wall. The space has the ambience of a fancy restaurant, plush, sound-absorbing carpet. Vendors have artisan cheeses, chocolates, soaps, candles, jewelry and clothing accessories. One woman sells black horchata and other aguas frescas. At midday her vessels hold about 2/3 of their original volume. People are curious but not that thirsty to buy an agua de guanabana, or naranjada.

The fresh produce at McDonald’s Urban Farm sukkoh aside, the find of the festival is Salsaology’s naturally gluten-free moles. Richly flavorful--the recipe thickens with semillas and chile--and just the right chiloso for generalized palates, the brand has a couple of jars worth of shelf space at Whole Foods markets.

Left, Lori Sandoval, right Diana Sandoval

Owners entrepreneurs sisters Diana Sandoval and chief cook and bottle washer Lori Sandoval are well on their way to culinary success. The company’s well-being comes not just from placement in the aery environs of “food 4 more” Whole Foods but from an outstanding product. I told them about the Sandoval sisters novel by Sandra Ramos O'Briant, (link) which provoked their interest.

I don’t shop at that store but I’m making an exception. Sadly, I won't be entirely satisfied. Whole Foods inventories only two of Salsaology’s flavors, not yet the knock-your-socks-off Mezcal variety that knocked my socks off. Or was it the Jamaica mole that did the trick? Visit Salsaology’s website here.

Five Clear Voices In Early October ‘s On-line Floricanto
Debra Winegarten, Edward Vidaurre, Jolaoso Pretty Thunder, Marisol S. Leza, Sonia Gutiérrez

The Face of a Hurricane By Debra Winegarten
Klu Klux Karma By Edward Vidaurre
The Spirit Eater By Jolaoso Pretty Thunder
Immeasurable By Marisol S. Leza
Rising Rosa By Sonia Gutiérrez

The Face of a Hurricane
By Debra Winegarten

If we said breakdowns
Before breakthroughs
How would we describe
A hurricane of the heart?

If we said HaShem promised
Noach never again to destroy the world
How do we explain Harvey, Irma, Jose,
To those whose worlds are no more?

When cancer kills a beloved
Thirty-seven-year-old son,
Husband, boss
What explanation soothes the ravaged spirit
Yearning for the comfort of peace?

Grasping for sense in circumstances
Wretched with impossibilities
Is what humans do
Stretching logic until it breaks in this quest for understanding.

What lessons lay hidden in mold-infested structures
Traumatized children's faces
Minds numbed with the loss of home, hearth,
Belongings, walls, pets.

And a mad man President who tore down laws
That mandated building codes designed to withstand disasters
Pummeling carbon emission regulations and the EPA
Foaming at the mouth about building walls.

Who will rebuild Houston, Donald?
The immigrants you've scared from coming here?
The Dreamers you want to deport?
The seekers to whom you refuse asylum?

People of all colors
Rush to help their neighbors
Not black, not white, not brown
Mud erases color, Donald,
But not humanity.

What will it take to soften the heart of a mad man tyrant?
How many hurricanes will it take to teach him his lessons?
The world cannot wait, Donald.

Debra L. Winegarten is an award-winning author and publisher. Her work is focused on Texas women's history and poetry. This April her company, Sociosights Press, published "Almost a Minyan," their first children's book. By day she teaches sociology, by night, she writes. Her work is found here: www.winegarten.com and here, www.sociosights.com.

Klu Klux Karma
By Edward Vidaurre

They don't know the
difference between
dreamers and non-dreamers.

They just see color.
They see a lesser them.
They see romance as rape.
They see drug dealers &
Criminals. They see minimum
wages & complainers.
They see food stamps & free
Lunches in schools.

They hear Spanish speaking
Drug deals in our conversations.
They hear kidnapping and plots
To rob and kill in our breath.

They smell dirty diapers and
Mud necks, leaky oil and brilliantine
On our hair, they smell lard and
Taco meat, chorizo and cerveza.

They smell sex and disease
They see clay skinned faces

They hear a revolution
They hear a revolution
They hear a revolution.

But from where?
From their paranoia
Karma strikes in different ways

With different generations
Always, at the right time.

Shhhhh, listen!

The engine of karma is revving up.

Edward Vidaurre is the author of Chicano Blood Transfusion (FlowerSong Books), Insomnia (El Zarape Press), Beautiful Scars: Elegiac Beat Poems (El Zarape Press), and I Took My Barrio on a Road Trip (Slough Press). His new collection, Jazzhouse, is forthcoming from Prickly Pear Press. His work appears in Bordersenses, RiverSedge, Brooklyn & Boyle, La Bloga, Voices de la Luna, and Poets Responding to SB1070, among many other venues. He is the founder of Pasta, Poetry, and Vino, an ongoing poetry reading series in the lower Rio Grande Valley.

The Spirit Eater
By Jolaoso Pretty Thunder

Forget about me. I am of lower class, a shame and have friends and family that you cannot bring home. You will never bring me home. I will never make enough money or own enough anything because I always give it away. Born from a grim heritage. You will have to disalign yourself from me often. Hide me from your mother and father. Don't let them see my mud boots, my EBT card, my track record of having gathered up my life with my own two hands, rebuilding it from the ground up, rebuilding it with 2,3,4 jobs. Split shifts, graveyard shifts, selling shoes, stripping, cage dancing, playing the good girl under the desk in the corporate world, playing pretend, giving the border patrol my panties, sleeping in the hidden rooms at the embassy. My nails are dirty. I laugh with hard women, we drink cheap wine, work on the farm. Poor and unproud we eat with our hands here. Skin animals, pluck our own birds, it is true. I have bad ways. My mother and her 4 sisters ate raw liver, raw meat. Cussed like sailors and taught me how to haul ass, shoot guns. I am a crude one, so don't name drop, I am dumb to it anyways, not caring who's who or where it's all supposed to be or what the latest fashion is. Someone laughed at me last year, I didn't know what a "coach" was. I spat, choked, rubbed the mucus from my nose hearing of how much maza is spent on a purse. I had asked if it was brain tanned. Disremember me. You don't know me, ever. An animal, I fight day and night for my children's freedom and safety. Dark skinned and careful we can't laugh any more with your kind. The spirit eater is out here.

By Marisol S. Leza

Dedicated to all the Dreamers and their families.

There’s unseen walls all around me... you like to make walls…
statistics are against me
So they say
My culture is in Limbo.
No, you’re not like us, they say
You’re too much like your people, they say
My people...
You want to be like them, they say
you’ll never be them, they say
Where is my identity?
You don’t have it…you may be able to tell me who you THINK I am
But I know who I am and what I want to be….
You try and box me and my kind into a number a percentage, but you’ll never have enough of anything to know what is in my HEART
not even with your summaries your reports your statuses your research your labels your structures or your percentages.
NEVER Can you ever be able to measure my strength, OUR strength...to fight to love to persevere to educate to learn and to reach beyond that box those unseen walls you like to put up...
Your numbers your statistics your fucking percentages...
your facts are relative to me... your reality will never be mine and mine will never be yours...
There is an unseen number an unseen heart an unseen warrior you will NEVER EVER be able to measure...
Or see...Because you are blind with greed, you are blind with possessions, you are blind to look beyond those unseen walls you built yourselves... MY PEOPLE THEY ARE THE WIND, FIRE AND LIKE WATER
constant and flowing, fluid hearts, fluid strength always changing always dynamic...
Too dynamic for you to even imagine or measure...
WE WILL ALWAYS BE IMPRECISE, something you detest...
Ascription you say? I say destiny
Achievement you say? I say strength
Equality you say? I say WAR
Qualities you say? I say BLOOD
Mobility you say? I say fight!!!
Wealth you say? I say I’m almost there…we’re almost there...
And we’ll never stop fighting, working, loving, and there are millions of unseen soldiers you can’t even imagine you can’t
EVER measure...
We will never be like you, and I DON’T WANT TO
...but you better be ready when I COME THROUGH.

"Marisol Saldana is a Revolutionary Chicana. Born in Texas, she was raised in South Side McAllen,in the Rio Grande Valley borderlands by lifelong activists and migrant farm worker parents. Her passion is helping people. Her survivalist and aggressive approach to life was garnered from being a domestic abuse survivor. As a single parent, her 3 children are her complete inspiration and motivation in life. Her poems are filled with anger and thought provoking issues dealing with work, family, social inequality, feminism, and the world of academia. Her poetic influences are Immortal Technique and his brutally honest rhymes. From the Barrio to the burbs she credits her past and current struggles in life to her continued success."

Rising Rosa
By Sonia Gutiérrez

A tiny little rose with swirling yellows
and reds standing seven inches tall

woke up this morning to tell me,
“Breathe deeply when your head

hangs low. And when you forget
the smell of a tiny little rose like me,

breathe deeper. Last week, my petals
were caught in a downpour, and today

the sun with its long fingertips turned
life’s muggy colors into a cobalt blue.”

Sonia Gutiérrez’s bilingual poems have appeared in the San Diego Poetry Annual, Konch Magazine, and Poetry of Resistance: Voices for Social Change. Her fiction has appeared in the London Journal of Fiction, Huizache, and AlternaCtive PublicaCtions. Sonia’s bilingual poetry collection, Spider Woman / La Mujer Araña, is her debut publication. She is a contributing editor for The Writer’s Response (Cengage Learning, 2016).

Currently, she is moderating Facebook’s Poets Responding, working on her manuscript, Sana Sana Colita de Rana, and completing her novel, Kissing Dreams from a Distance. Her libro artesano for children, El Lugar de los Alebrijes / The Place of Alebrijes (Nódulo Ediciones and *Asterisco Editora de Poesía) is forthcoming. Her poem, “Rising Rosa” appears in her manuscript, Sana Sana Colita de Rana. She will be participating in Ilan Stavans's Don Quixote en Spanglish reading at the CECUT in Tijuana, Baja California, in October.

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