Friday, January 03, 2020

Papel Chicano Dos

Northern Colorado, which means north of Denver, is still big sky country. Farms and rolling hills take up whatever space is left along the rapidly developing I-25 corridor, but in a few years (months?) this stretch of Colorado north to the Wyoming border will be solid with urban sprawl, outlet malls, truck stops and cookie-cutter housing. Colorado's unchecked growth and over-population will infect this part of the state. A high-speed train will one day run from Fort Collins to Pueblo, but "planners" already foresee more lanes added to the freeway, as well as more exits and fast food rest stops. But for now, come springtime, the earth will be covered with bright green foliage that contrasts and complements the purple Rocky Mountains to the west and the orange-tinted morning sky to the east. 

I went to college in Fort Collins and my memories of the time and place are framed with the gold and green hues of youth and adventure. There was a sense of independence and solidness in the air in Fort Collins when I was a student, and that feeling must still linger in the towns struggling to maintain their identities: Loveland, Longmont, Fort Collins, Greeley.

Today, when we travel north, it's usually to participate in a cultural event. We've transported part of Flo's father's nacimiento collection to a museum in Fort Collins for a Christmas exhibit. We've checked out cornfield mazes with our grandsons along narrow roads in Larimer County. We attended an event in Longmont honoring the early Latino pioneers of Boulder County. I've returned to Colorado State University to talk about my writing and to record an interview for the CSU library archives. We've browsed día de los muertos exhibitions, sampled cherry pie at a pie festival, and spent the night in a quaint bed and breakfast on our way to Wyoming.

In the interest of art and artists, we've attended exhibits featuring Goya, Picasso, and other masters – away from crowded Denver and inflated admission fees. This week we drove to the Loveland Museum to enjoy the exhibit entitled Papel Chicano Dos: Works on Paper from the Collection of Cheech Marin.

I’ll quote from the brochure prepared by the Museum staff for this show.

Primarily known as an actor, director, and performer, Cheech Marin has developed the finest private collection of Chicano art in the United States.  
Diverse, colorful, and iconic, the artworks in Papel Chicano Dos range from the realism of Texas artists Gaspar Enriquez and Vincent Valdez to the expressionism of Californians Sonya Fe and Frank Romero. Prominent Chicano artists Diane Gamboa, Leo Limón, and Glugio “Gronk” Nicondra, and artists selected by Marin for the exhibition such as Carlos Almaraz and Carlos Donjuan, bring a multifaceted view of the Chicano experience as well as present social issues relevant to all communities. Utilizing unique and traditional practices of portraiture, and varied viewpoints incorporating urban culture and images from a range of historical sources, these artists move Chicano art from marginalized to mainstream.

This exhibition includes 65 artworks by 24 established and emerging artists. Their work demonstrates a myriad of techniques from watercolor and aquatint to pastel and mixed media, and dates from the late 1980s to present day.

In the near future, Marin's collection will be donated to the Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art, Culture and Industry.  "The Cheech," as Marin prefers to call it, will open in 2021 (in Riverside, CA.)

The full range of Chicano art cannot be represented in one show, but Papel Chicano Dos manages to present an exciting and colorful spectrum of art that came of age in the streets, fields, and campuses of political activism, and that has continued to grow and develop even as Chicanos and Chicanas stubbornly hold on to vanishing history and lost identities. This art is vital for the head and heart.

Below are a few photos from the show. Enjoy the pics, but in your own self-interest, go north, as soon as you can. The exhibit is scheduled to close January 12, 2020. 

Admission: $7.00 (12 and under free) 
The Loveland Museum
503 N. Lincoln Avenue
Loveland, CO 80537

If that's not enough, the Museum also is showing a collection of work by Denver artist Josiah Lee Lopez.  Outstanding.  Lopez's exhibit is open until January 26, 2020.

And for those of you with an even hungrier eye, there's a Justin Favela (and his grandmother) nacimiento installation at the Firehouse Art Gallery in Longmont.


John Valadez

Works by César Martínez -- artist whose Bato con Sunglasses graced the cover of my novel King of the Chicanos

Gaspar Enríquez - Tirando Rollo (I Love You)

Soy Chicana - CiCi Segura González

Wenceslao Quiroz - East L.A. Metal Pickup Cruise

Vato Getting Hit By Car - Adán Hernández (whose art was used for the cover of my novel Desperado: A Mile High Noir

Diane Gamboa

Gilbert "Magu" Luján

Vincent Valdez


The next three are from the series Retold Story of La Llorona by Sonya Fe

The following are from Josiah Lee Lopez

And, finally, Nacimiento by Justin and Isabel Favela



Manuel Ramos writes crime fiction. His latest is The Golden Havana Night (Arte Público Press.) 

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