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WEEDE PEEPO: Icons, Portraits y Gente
4/9/2005 - 6/4/2005
The first of three 35th Anniversary exhibitions, Weedee Peepo showcased artworks that depict individuals in the context of community life —from cultural and political leaders to everyday folks whose very existence reflect the evolving process of cultural affirmation and survival. The exhibition featured works created in different media: painting, graphic arts, photography, and video. Click on number next to the STAR to download PDF catalogue.
  Galería Exhibitions SU ARTE HERE: Five Years of Galería’s Digital Mural Project <2005>
Digital Mural Project: Omid Rashidi <2005>
WEEDE PEEPO: Icons, Portraits y Gente <2005>
Digital Mural Project: Linda G. Wilson <2005>
Youth Rock Laboratory 2 <2005>
In Conversation with Yolanda Lopez, Isis Rodriguez, and Yadira Casares <2005>
Digital Mural Project: Youth & Public Media <2005>
Trazos: Myth and Memory <2005>
Digital Mural Project: Victor Cartagena <2005>
In Conversation with Ester Hernandez and Dolissa Medina <2005>
What's Not To Love? <2005>
Digital Mural Project: Victor Cartagena <2005>
Related Media for this Exhibition
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WEEDEE PEEPO: Icons, Portraits & Gente
By Carolina Ponce de León

Weedee Peepo: Icons, Portraits & Gente, the first of three thematic anniversary exhibitions, features works —from vintage 1970s political posters to new visual arts media— by twenty-two artists, including pioneers of the Chicano art movement, and established and emerging artists, that lend this exhibition a dynamic multi-generational perspective.

The exhibition’s title is a homage to José Antonio Burciaga’s book: “Weedee Peepo, A Collection of Essays”, published by Pan American University Press (Edinburg, TX) in 1988. Burciaga infused the first three words of the preamble to the Constitution with a heavy accent as a satirical comment on the incongruity between the democratic vision of the bill of rights and the status of second-class citizenry of “English-limited” citizens.

Weedee Peepo—the exhibition— features a selection of artworks that portray people: community leaders, cultural icons, revolutionaries, and visionaries, as well as ordinary individuals within the context of ‘we’ (with an accent) —‘we’ as the safe-haven for our connection to cultural icons, community leaders and unsung heroes of ordinary life that struggle for social justice and cultural affirmation, ‘we’ as the shelter formed by common historical references and shared cultural origins, ‘we’ as found in the familiarity of individual experience and self-expression, and the diverse and inclusive ‘we’ that reaches across the boundaries of class, gender, sexual preference, nationalities and ethnicity.

Weedee Peepobrings forth the connections, continuities and new alternatives that surface between artworks selected across generations, political contexts and artistic approaches. The vibrant dialogue sparked between this set of works encapsulates the ethos of Galería’s 35-year exhibition programs.

About the works

Elena Anaya’s intimate black and white portraits have a cinematic quality. Like movie stills from an imaginary golden age of Latina glamour, the portraits offer a glimpse into a playful moment of intimacy of a woman whose sense of self seems to defy a cultural context dominated by white/blonde paradigms of beauty.

Francisco X. Camplis is a Chicano painter, photographer, and filmmaker. A founding member of the Galería de la Raza, Francisco was a vital force in the Chicano community and civil rights movement. His photographic work is renowned for stylized nude portraits integrating ethnic-specific objects such as zarapes, Aztec imagery and Olmec masks. These elements add a certain cultural tension as they simultaneously confront the religious and cultural taboos of nudity, while following the traditional art historical representation of the female body. Listones Dorados (1970) is a delicate and enigmatic portrait of an indigenous woman seemingly imbued with a meditative and ritual dimension.

Barbara Carrasco’s portrait of United Farm Worker (UFW) leader, Dolores Huerta (2004), is made in the tradition of Chicano/a poster art utilized to honor such revolutionary figures as Emiliano Zapata and Che Guevara. By representing Dolores Huerta, Carrasco introduces an important female role model into our collective memory, and pays tribute to the invaluable contribution women have made to social activism. A key figure in the Chicano arts movement, Carrasco was also socially and politically engaged as an artist working closely with Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta, and the UFW. Making use of a pop aesthetic with bright colors and a flat style of painting, Dolores has a powerful iconic quality.

Lawrence Colación’s portraits of the young and older Frida Kahlo use bold, flat color to illustrate an aesthetic inspired by political icons, Latino pop and street culture. A masterful graphic artist and printmaker, Colación describes his work as “Post Pop Chicano Punk Art.” This description aptly suits the two portraits featured here, increasing their relevance as tangible examples of the bicultural nature of Chicano/a art, which is often informed by both traditional Mexican culture and American pop aesthetics.

Cesar Chavez at UFW Rally, Modesto, CA (1975) and UFW March, Modesto, CA (1975) by internationally-acclaimed photographer, Lou Dematteis, document the rich tradition of Chicano activism. Dematteis has spent the last three decades working in the U.S., Mexico, the Caribbean, Central and South America, Europe, and Asia. In the 1970s he documented the United Farm Workers (UFW) movement in the struggle for migrant farm workers rights.

Francisco Dominguez’s portraits of Chicano/a activists Dolores Huerta (1996), Corky Gonzalez (2000), and of indigenous leader Rigoberta Menchú (2004) pay tribute to their individual and collective fight for social justice.

In Mouths of Ash (2003), a video by Colombian artist Juan Manuel Echavarría, survivors of guerrilla and paramilitary violence in Colombia sing an individual song composed in response to the tragic events they each witnessed.

Through his work, Rupert García seeks to maintain a high level of artistic and political power. "Both need to be taken to the same level," he believes. "Politics does not preclude the aesthetic." Rupert García’s Untitled for Lenin et MAB (2000), a poignant grouping of a fallen Lenin with a factory worker assassinated during a union strike in Mexico (based on a 1934 photo by Manuel Álvarez Bravo) is an example of how his work traverses art and politics to combine images from the mass media, art and social histories of different periods and cultures.

Rick Godinez’s Defiance and Gloating (2001) exemplifies how the bold graphics of traditional Chicano poster art remain a compelling artistic strategy for contemporary Chicano/a artists. Using an economy of means, Godinez’s sharp juxtaposition blends irony, history, cultural icon, pop culture and sports into a powerful example of political satire. Rick Godinez has participated in several exhibitions organized by Galería’s emerging artist program, the ReGeneration Project, and is currently a member of the program’s Advisory Board.

Performance artist Guillermo Gómez-Peña teams with filmmaker Gustavo Vazquez to delve into the dark depths of the present times, staging an unusual statement — Declaration of Poetic Disobedience (2005)— of the public and private concerns of all of those marginalized by the political mainstream. Like most of Gómez-Peña’s work, this performance-video is both consistent with the political and public nature of Chicano/a art while expanding its iconographic range.

San Francisco-based photographer, Gabriela Hasbun creates portraits, such as Dana’s Bridal Shop (2000) , that focus our gaze on the familiar subjects and places in San Francisco’s Mission District. Part of a larger series, these photos document the business owners, and the decades-long establishments that have survived the neighborhood’s wave of gentrification.

L.A.-based photographer Patrick Hebert uses a dynamic range of innovative photographic techniques. His use of lenticular technology combines simultaneous images in a single frame, which eerily invite the gaze of the viewer. For instance in Besos [Kisses], a stirring portrait of his grandparents, Hebert maximizes the visual effects of lenticular technology to reiterate the unique and candid moments captured by his camera.

A pioneer of the Chicano art movement, Ester Hernández is renown for her depiction of women through prints and pastels, such as the portraits, Frida Kahloand Renee La Troquera, which demonstrate her interest in empowering Latina women through her depictions.

Boi Hair (2004), Alma Lopez’s first video (17 min.), is a documentary that follows three L.A.-based Asian and Latina lesbians as they apply wit and humor to discuss their short-hair in connection to family, social perception, gender identity, and desire. The animations used in the chapter dividers add a playful twist to Latino pop cultural symbols such as the loteria mermaid and the Virgin of Guadalupe as Lopez transforms them into gender-bending icons.

Like many contemporary Chicano/a artists, Amanda Lopez views her photographic work as a community art form, depicting the idiosyncrasies of the everyday life and characters of the Mission District. Lopez’s photo Julio (2004), a young urban Latino, reinforces the unique iconography of Chicano cultural symbols such as the pachuco and cholo, emblematic of alternative youth culture and Chicano urban identities.

Yolanda Lopez’s Virgin of Guadalupe Triptych (1978), a series of portraits depicting the artist, her mother and grandmother, is one of the most prominent series in Chicana feminist art. Creating a potentially controversial reinterpretation of a revered Mexican religious icon, the artist imbues her role models —working class Chicana women— with the iconographic attributes of the Virgin of Guadalupe, creating images that are simultaneously homage, satire and provocation. The series also serves to the artist’s concern for creating cultural imagery that countervails the stereotyped representations of Mexicanos in U.S. film and media.

In the 1970s and 80s, Linda Lucero was a key member of La Raza Graphics, the most prolific Chicano/Latino silkscreen center in El Movimiento, the Chicano civil rights movement. Like many Chicana feminist artists, such as Yolanda Lopez, Ester Hernández and Barbara Carrasco, Lucero’s Lolita Lebrón (1978) adds a powerful female role model to an all too often male-dominated gallery of cultural icons. In the spirit of the political posters of the 70s, Lucero’s poster represents the vitality of public art as a vehicle for community activism.

Ralph Maradiaga’s print (Title Unknown), 1970, depicting Black intellectuals and activists Malcolm X, Amiri Baraka, Bobby Seal and Eldridge Cleaver, was used as an announcement poster for Blackwriters Workshop. Like many of the Chicano-based art centers, Galería made use of silkscreen, xerox and offset lithography to widely publicize their exhibitions, concerts and performances on streets, billboards, and lamp-posts. This print exhibits how poster-making evolved as part of the Chicano civil rights movement and how Galería understood its mission within a multi-cultural perspective.

Primarily known for his graphic art prints, Malaquías Montoya is a leading figure in the Chicano arts movement. The three prints are part of Premeditated: Meditations on Capital Punishment, a series of silkscreen images, paintings, drawings and research dealing with death penalty and penal institutions. This series of works is an excellent example of the artistic ethos behind the Chicano art movement: its straightforward activist and political nature that makes use of powerful imagery to raise public awareness on issues related to basic human, civil, and cultural rights. Through his art, Montoya addresses the concerns of those whom he describes as the “silent and often ignored populace of Chicano, Mexican and Central American working class, along with other disenfranchised people of the world”. Montoya’s Meditations speak eloquently of the inhumanity of state-sponsored death.

Mexican artist Tatiana Parcero's Acto de Fe [Act of Faith] (2003) is a self-portrait in which ancient drawings from the Aztec zodiac adorn her body. This image speaks eloquently of the intersection of gender, identity, and memory, where ancestral and personal memory become embodied expressions of cultural lineage.

Armando Rascón’s Latina Postcolonial Photobureau/Politician, Farmworker, Borderguard (1990-2005) depict Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez of California; a migrant farmworker who conceals her identity in order to protect herself both from the exposure to harsh sun rays and pesticides as well as from la migra, the INS border patrol; and a Latina border patrol woman. This telling triptych speaks of the contradictions and intricacies that arise from the intersection of postcolonial identities, politics, and immigration.

El Rio vs. Comics (2004), by Rio Yañez gives a contemporary twist to aspects of Chicano art that include satire and irreverence towards high art norms, as well as the extensive use of Latino pop and street culture. Yañez’s comics recycle found texts and images from a wide range of American comics and mix diverse graphic styles and historical periods to ultimately revamp the Chicano phenomenon called rasquachismo. Wearing the mask of El Rio, a lucha libre wrestler, Yañez actively explores American comics in search for Latino/as, and ultimately “invades” US pop culture, defiantly inserting his own fictional persona.