Scoli Acosta, Howard Fox, and Gary Garay, at the opening of the show
Photograph ©2008 by Douglas Messerli
Ken Gonzales-Day, Nightfall, 2006
Rita Gonzalez, Chon A. Noriega, and Howard N. Fox (curators) Phantom Sightings: Art After the Chicano Movement / April 6, 2008-September 1, 2008
The art show Phantom Sightings, curated by Rita Gonzalez, Chon A. Noriega, and my companion Howard N. Fox, opened at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art on April 6, 2008. Because my companion Howard had such a major role in this show, I had determined that it would be inappropriate for me to write about it. But as the months passed, it became more and more clear that the kinds of shifts in perspective experienced by the artists in this show closely paralleled those changes I had outlined in my essay in 2008 on Richard Bruce Nugent and his friends in the Harlem Renaissance. If there were ever a series of events, moreover, that revealed a culture “in the gap,” so to speak, it was represented in the art and artists of this show.
Informed by an awareness of transcultural currents, artists in this exhibition
create ‘impertinent and out-of-bounds ethnic visions’ that veer away from
ethnographic or social scientific studies into ‘real and surreal visions, absurd
visions of actual events, [and] symbolic interpretations’ of the city. [her quote
from Harry Gamboa, Jr., Urban Exile: Collected Writings of Harry Gamboa, Jr.]
Encapsulated in a larger society that often confuses and interfuses Spanish-speaking, Mexican, and Mexican American identities and living in a country in which only a handful of states in the West and Southwest are primarily effected by their multi-cultural identities, Chicano artists, despite their significant artistic contributions, were often seemingly invisible, unable to gain access to major galleries and museums.
Patssi always gets asked: Why did you let them do that to you? Oppression affects
everybody. It doesn’t know sexuality. Patssi’s on that wall, but in a short amount
of time she breaks free of the red tape. Some people get trapped in their community, or
a group, or a country, and are unable to leave it. But the bottom line here is: she
Los Angeles, September 30, 2008