CSRC Newsletter - April 2009
Volume 7, Number 7
Next month I will co-host a month-long series, “Latino Images in Film,” for Turner Classic Movies with Robert Osborne. In preparation, I’ve spent the last eight months reviewing the relatively small number of Hollywood films that focus on Chicano, Puerto Rican, Cuban American, and other Latino communities. There are fewer than 100 such films, and Turner Classic Movies will air 40 of them, many for the first time—so get basic cable! While most people are familiar with the Latino stereotypes that populate action genres from the Western to the gang film, the films about Latinos are less well known, except perhaps for West Side Story and La Bamba. All these films are interesting and revealing examples of how mainstream American culture has tried to make sense of a growing Latino presence throughout the twentieth century, starting with D. W. Griffith’s Ramona in 1910. (I will say more about the films in next month’s newsletter.) I am reminded of the first time I saw a Mexican American lead character in a Hollywood film. The film was Freebie and the Bean, and it was released in 1974, when I was just thirteen years old. The film was packed with slapstick, chase scenes, and vigilante police—all the things a teenage boy could want in the cinema! And it had a Mexican American cop named “Bean,” so I was especially thrilled. I felt like I was now part of an important and exciting story. For years I remained convinced that the actor was Chicano, like me. His name was Alan Arkin—you know, the guy in Little Miss Sunshine…. As it turns out, in 1969 Arkin had also played a Puerto Rican widow in Popi, a film with an unusual mixture of gritty urban realism and slapstick comedy. I did not see Popi as a child, but it will be on Turner Classic Movies. As you watch the series, you will undoubtedly notice a trend in Hollywood casting for Latino characters…. But a funny thing happened after Popi and Freebie and the Bean were released—the first signs of change. Both were adapted for television as mid-season replacements in 1976 and 1980, respectively, and both starred Puerto Rican actor Hector Elizondo.
Chon A. Noriega
Director and Professor
Online Archive Launched
The CSRC, in collaboration with the University Library, Los Tigres del Norte Foundation, and the Arhoolie Foundation, hosted the public launch of the Frontera Collection Online Archive on Thursday, March 26, at the UCLA Morgan Center. UCLA Chancellor Gene Block offered opening remarks. The speakers at the press conference included CSRC Director Chon A. Noriega, the Grammy Award–winning group Los Tigres del Norte, whose Los Tigres del Norte Fund at CSRC made the project possible, and Chris Strachwitz, president of the Arhoolie Foundation, whose collection is the cornerstone of the digital archive. Media coverage of the launch is available on the CSRC website.
Getty Foundation Grant to CSRC
The CSRC has been awarded a $48,000 grant by the Getty Foundation. The grant supports the arrangement and classification of four art collections in the CSRC Library as part of a special initiative, “Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A., 1945–1980.” This project highlights the CSRC’s dedication to preserving and promoting the arts.
Phantom Sightings in San Antonio
Phantom Sightings, the first comprehensive consideration of Chicano art in almost two decades, opened in mid-October at LACMA and is currently traveling to sites in the U.S. and Mexico. On March 12 the show opened at the Alameda Museum in San Antonio. For more information, visit the Museo Alameda’s website. The exhibition was co-curated by CSRC Director Chon A. Noriega. The exhibition catalog is available from the University of California Press. To read recent articles and blogs in the San Antonio Current, visit My SA Life, SA Current, and SA Column. Phantom Sightings will travel next to Phoenix, Guadalajara, and New York.
Presentation on Tijuana Ethnography
On March 6, Fiamma Montezemolo, CSRC visiting scholar, gave a presentation at Farmlab, a Los Angeles art studio. Dr. Montezemolo and co-author Rene Peralta discussed their book, Here is Tijuana!, an ethnography drawn from diverse sources—reports, travel guides, architectural criticism, and market research, for example—that offer information about the city. At the CSRC, Dr. Montezemolo conducts archival and ethnographic research on the relationship between art practice, ethnicity, and violence.
Gutiérrez Voted AERA President-Elect
Kris D. Gutiérrez, UCLA professor of social research methodology and a CSRC affiliated faculty member, is the new president-elect of the American Educational Research Association (AERA). Her term as president starts at the conclusion of the association’s 2010 annual meeting. AERA is a national interdisciplinary research society that aims to advance knowledge about education, to encourage scholarly inquiry related to education, and to promote the use of research to improve education and serve the public good.
Talk on Education in Zapatista Communities
Patricia Hernández will discuss education in Zapatista communities and the role of urban academics in the development of an autonomous education system on Tuesday, April 7, 12:30 p.m., in the CSRC Library (144 Haines Hall). Her presentation, “‘Autonomous Education’ from Chiapas to Mexico City: Urban-Zapatista Links,” will be given in Spanish, with English translation. Ms. Hernández, a sociologist specializing in education and gender, helps indigenous communities develop education programs through her Organización Zapatista: Educación para la Liberación de Nuestros Pueblos (OZELNP). She is also a member of “Tejedoras de resistencias” (weavers of resistance), a group of women committed to political change. The event is sponsored by the CSRC and the César Chávez Department of Chicana and Chicano Studies.
Screening of Run, Tecato, Run
The CSRC invites you to the first public screening in thirty years of Run, Tecato, Run. The film will be shown on Wednesday, April 15, 7:30 p.m., at the Hammer Museum’s Billy Wilder Theater in Westwood. The screening is part of the UCLA Film and Television Archive’s fourteenth annual Festival of Preservation. Directed by Efraín Gutiérrez and released in 1979, Run, Tecato, Run (a.k.a. “Run, Junkie, Run”) is the last of three low-budget social problem films by Mr. Gutiérrez. All have been restored by the UCLA Film and Television Archive in collaboration with the CSRC through its Chicano Cinema Recovery Project. Major funding for this effort comes from the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations. Mr. Gutiérrez, the first Chicano feature director, not only starred in these films but also developed a grass-roots distribution strategy that allowed his films to outperform Hollywood releases in several cities. Based on true incidents, Run, Tecato, Run depicts a junkie’s efforts to break his heroin habit in order to reclaim and raise his daughter. Produced for $60,000, the film explores the connections between the Vietnam War, drug addiction, and crime by juxtaposing them with Mexican American culture, family, and spirituality. Chon A. Noriega will host a Q&A session with the director after the film. The Billy Wilder Theater is located on the Courtyard Level of the Hammer Museum, 10899 Wilshire Blvd. Visit the UCLA Film and Television Archive’s website for more about the festival and for information on ticket sales. Mr. Gutiérrez’s first feature film, Please Don’t Bury Me Alive!, is available on DVD from the CSRC Press. This film, about the difficulties faced by a young Chicano during the Chicano Movesment, is considered the first Chicano movie. For more information, and to order the DVD online, visit the CSRC Press website.
Raphael Montañez Ortiz in Performance
The CSRC and the Art +Activism Series are delighted to welcome artist Raphael Montañez Ortiz, who will present “Primal Scream,” a performance that includes a Piano Destruction and a Paper Bag concert. A discussion with the artist and a reception will follow. This free event will take place on Thursday, April 16, 4:30 p.m., at the UCLA Broad Art Center, room 1250. Mr. Ortiz was a noted figure in the Destructivism movement of the 1960s. During his fifty-year career, he has created mixed-media ritual performances and installations for museums and galleries in Europe and Canada and throughout the United States, including MOCA and the Whitney Museum. The CSRC will publish a book on Mr. Ortiz, authored by CSRC Director Chon A. Noriega, for its A Ver: Revisioning Art History series. The Art + Activism series is a joint program of the UCLA Art | Sci Center, Art | Global Health Center, Center for Performance Studies, CSRC, Department of Design | Media Arts, Department of World Arts and Cultures, and Department of Theater, Film and Television.
A Ver Artist in Exhibition
Freddy Rodriguez, an artist in the CSRC’s A Ver: Revisioning Art History series, is the subject of a solo exhibition, Portrait of the Artist as an Immigrant or Portrait of an Immigrant as an Artist, in New York City. The opening reception will take place at the Gabarrón Foundation (149 East 38th Street) on Thursday, April 16, 6:00 p.m. The exhibition runs from April 17 through May 1. For more information contact Susana Fernández at (212) 573-6968 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
CSRC at the Festival of Books
Visit the CSRC Press at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books on Saturday, April 25, and Sunday, April 26, 10:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m., at booth 534. UCLA’s four ethnic studies centers—the African American, American Indian, Asian American, and Chicano Studies Centers—will celebrate “40 Years of Ethnic Studies Research at UCLA.” The Press will have new books, DVDs, and our ever-popular T-shirts for sale, and CSRC authors will be available to sign their books. Booth 534 will be opposite the south side of Haines Hall.
CSRC Library and Archive
CSRC Archivist and Acting Librarian Lizette Guerra will attend the annual conference of the National Association for Chicana and Chicano Studies (NACCS), April 8–12, in New Brunswick. Ms. Guerra will give a presentation titled “Building Transformative Spaces: The LGBTIQ Mujeres Initiative.” The initiative is a CSRC project committed to increasing LGBT and women’s archival collections at the CSRC and in other repositories as well. For more information about the conference, visit the NACCS website.
Archival Work Completed
The CSRC Library is pleased to report that the processing and preservation of two important collections has been completed. The Alex Donis Collection is composed of approximately 7 linear feet of personal sketchbooks, journals, research materials, and ephemera donated by the groundbreaking artist. The collection is an invaluable addition to the CSRC’s growing body of arts archives. The finding aid will be available at the Online Archive of California later this month. The Church of the Epiphany Chicano Civil Rights Collection contains approximately 7 linear feet of papers, photos, and printed materials relating to Los Angeles’s Lincoln Heights Church of the Epiphany, which served as a base for the Chicano Civil Rights Movement and, more particularly, the organizing efforts of César Chávez. This collection is an important resource for students and scholars of Chicano activism.
The Fire of Life: The Robert Legorreta–Cyclona Collection
This second volume in the Chicano Archives series will be released this month. Robb Hernandez explores Robert Legorreta’s career as the performance artist Cyclona and assesses the artist’s collection in terms of its value to researchers. In addition to letters, photographs, and other documents, the collection contains more than a thousand LPs that Legorreta gathered primarily for the Latino imagery on their covers, plus other materials—toys, coupons, food wrappers, and the like—that show how Latino themes have been used to promote consumer products. An illustrated section features album covers and the artist’s thoughts on the significance of their Latino imagery. The book also includes a detailed finding aid for the collection.
Cyclona: Death Becomes Life
This DVD features Robert Legorreta as Cyclona in a 1999 performance of Death Becomes Life, Life Becomes ? The disk also contains Cyclona’s New Costumes, a bonus documentary produced in 2009 by Michael Stone, CSRC archivist. The DVD will be bundled with The Fire of Life: The Robert Legorreta–Cyclona Collection.
Con Safo: The Chicano Art Group and the Politics of South Texas
Ruben C. Cordova traces the history of Con Safo, one of the earliest and most significant of the Chicano art groups, from the mid-1960s, when it formed as El Grupo, to the mid-1970s, when Con Safo gradually disbanded. Closely connected to the ideology of Chicano movement, Con Safo was at the forefront of efforts to define a Chicano art at a time when Chicano culture was largely invisible. Founded by Felipe Reyes, the original group was made up of six San Antonio artists. Membership changed over the course of the decade that the group was active; other members included Mel Casas, Jose Esquivel, Rudy Treviño, and Roberto Ríos. The book concludes with reproductions of original documents related to Con Safo, including Casas’s “Brown Paper Report.” Con Safo will be available in early May.
UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center • 193 Haines Hall • Box 951544 • Los Angeles, CA 90095-1544 Campus Mail Code: 154403 • Tel: (310) 825-2363 • Fax: (310) 206-1784