CSRC Newsletter - March 2014
Volume 12, Number 7
In my March 2012 message, published just before that year’s Academy Awards broadcast, I discussed the Mexican origins of the Oscar statuette. I pointed to the contradictions of desire and distancing—if not, in fact, disgust—that the figure embodied from the start. Created in 1928, the statuette was modeled on a nude study of Emilio “El Indio” Fernández, the renowned Mexican actor, screenwriter, and director, who was working in Hollywood at the time. Mexican actress Dolores del Rio recommended her friend Fernández to the award designer (and her husband from 1930–41), MGM art director Cedric Gibbons. Stories vary as to why the award officially became known as “Oscar” in 1939, but one thing was clear: the nude statuette reminded white women in Hollywood of a male relation or countryman, effectively turning El Indio into The European.
On February 21 of this year, Studio 360 similarly took a look at this history and pointed to yet another irony: despite a fifty-year career and becoming one of the most celebrated Mexican directors in the golden age of Mexican cinema, Fernández never received an Oscar. Apparently he was not good enough for himself—or, rather, for an award modeled on his likeness.
Over the past decade the Academy has been increasingly called out for the persistent underrepresentation of people of color within its ranks as well as the lack of nominations and awards that people of color receive. One industry response to this criticism has been to blame the audience: only stories and actors that appeal to white audiences will make money, we’re told (as if tastes are so discrete among today’s entertainment-seeking Americans). But this year, with multiple nominations for 12 Years a Slave, there are indications to the contrary, both with respect to more equitable casting and to telling our nation’s difficult stories about race (Fruitvale Station deserves note here, too). And … with Alfonso Cuarón now the favorite to win Best Director for Gravity, Oscar’s Mexican past may finally catch up with its future.
Chon A. Noriega
Director and Professor
The CSRC says “Bonjour!” This month Asco and Friends: Exiled Portraits opens in Marseille. The exhibition is a partnership between the CSRC and Triangle France, and includes materials from the CSRC archives. Then, in the summer, Chicano artists whose works appeared in the CSRC’s L.A. Xicano exhibitions will be represented in a major exhibition in Bordeaux. The CSRC will lend copies of James Tartan’s historic documentaries on Chicano artists and L.A. muralists, which will be shown in the gallery. Details for both shows can be found below.
Tartan documentaries to screen in Bordeaux
In collaboration with the L.A. Department of Cultural Affairs, the Musée d'Aquitaine will present an exhibition this summer as part of the celebration marking the fiftieth anniversary of the sister cities agreement between Los Angeles and Bordeaux. The museum will display approximately one hundred paintings and silkscreen prints, mostly from the Cheech Marin Collection. Artists include Carlos Almaraz, Gronk, Margaret Garcia, Frank Romero, John Valadez, Patssi Valdez, Jaime Zacarias, Carlos Donjuan, and Shizu Saldamando. The documentaries Los Four and Murals of Aztlán: The Street Painters of East Los Angeles, directed by James Richard Tartan and released on DVD through the CSRC Chicano Cinema and Media Art series, will be shown within the exhibition. For more information, visit the museum’s website.
VPAM exhibition curated by L.A. Xicano researcher
Corporeal Impulse, an exhibition currently at the Vincent Price Art Museum, features five West Coast artists who work primarily with clay. The curator is Allyson Unzicker, who provided extensive research assistance on the CSRC’s L.A. Xicano exhibitions. Corporeal Impulse presents ceramic representations of the body that investigate gender, identity, biological systems, and temporality. The works will be on display through April 12, 2014. For more information, visit the VPAM website.
CSRC publication to be used in innovative poetry course
The Oakhill Prison Humanities Project, a program in which graduate students from the University of Wisconsin at Madison offer free courses in the humanities to prisoners at Oakhill Correctional Facility, will be using the text HechizoSpells by Ricardo Sánchez as a part of a new Spanish-English hybrid poetry workshop. This book of poetry and prose was published by the CSRC Press in 1976 and is now on the Press’s backlist. For more information about the project, visit the project blog.
Huerta appears on Tavis Smiley
CSRC visiting scholar Alvaro Huerta was a guest on Tavis Smiley on February 5. Huerta discussed the premise of his recent book, Reframing the Latino Immigration Debate: Towards a Humanistic Paradigm (San Diego State University Press, 2013). The segment can be viewed here. Huerta spoke about the book at the CSRC in October 2013, and the video of that event can be viewed here. His editorial on the GOP’s inaction on meaningful immigration reform, published on February 13 in The Progressive, can be read here.
Community center dedicated to mother of faculty affiliate Torres-Gil
Fernando Torres-Gil joined the ribbon-cutting ceremonies for the new Maria J. Torres-Gil Community Center at 2 Haciendas Place, a newly redeveloped affordable-housing project in Salinas. The center is named after Torres-Gil’s mother, who raised nine children in the old Haciendas units and was a founding member of the Monterey County Housing Advisory Committee. The community center is open to all the development’s residents. Torres-Gil is a professor of public policy and social welfare at UCLA, a CSRC faculty associate, a CSRC faculty advisory committee member, and the director of the Latinos and Economic Security project.
García discusses Valverde portraits
Ramón García, author of the CSRC Press publication Ricardo Valverde, presented a paper on Valverde’s photographic portraits at Trastocar Queering Paradigms 5: Queering Narratives of Modernity, an international conference in Quito, Ecuador. García’s presentation elaborated on themes that appear in his book on the late Chicano photographer.
CSRC associate director on NPR’s The Salt
On February 10, Alex Ortega, CSRC associate director and professor in the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, was interviewed for a story on National Public Radio’s blog The Salt concerning his “Market Makeover” project in East Los Angeles. Market Makeover converts small food markets in low-income areas into stores featuring fresh fruits and vegetables. (PDF)
Haro to teach new course on Chicana/o education history
Carlos M. Haro, coordinator of the CSRC’s Education Project, has developed a seminar that will be offered through the Chicana/o studies department during the 2014 summer session. “Chicanas/Chicanos and the Schools: The Legacy of Mendez v. Westminster and Sal Castro” will present an overview of Chicana/o educational issues in the United States. Special emphasis will be placed on important historical events that exemplify the struggle for educational justice and that have affected Chicana/o education: the Mendez v. Westminster (1946) desegregation case, and the legacy of Sal Castro, Chicano teacher and central figure in the 1968 walkouts in East Los Angeles. The course is also designed to introduce upper-division and graduate students to the Sal Castro Collection at the CSRC and to demonstrate how to utilize primary resources to conduct oral history research. The course will meet Mondays and Wednesdays, noon–2:00 p.m. in Dodd 161, and will run from August 4 through September 12. For more information, contact Professor Haro at email@example.com
New video on CSRC YouTube
Now available for viewing on CSRC YouTube is TransVisible: Bamby Salcedo's Story Post-screening Q&A (January 15, 2014). This video presents the introductory remarks for the CSRC’s screening of TransVisible: Bamby Salcedo’s Story and the question-and-answer period that followed. TransVisible is a documentary film by Dante Alencastre on the life of renowned Los Angeles-based trans-Latina activist and leader Bamby Salcedo. Alicia Gaspar de Alba, professor of English and women’s and Chicana/o studies, was the faculty curator for this event and moderated the Q&A.
CSRC in the News
“Smithsonian Exhibit to Feature Pico Rivera Photographer's Historic Shots”
The Smithsonian has acquired twelve photographs by Oscar Castillo, most of which were featured in the CSRC-organized exhibitions Icons of the Invisible: Oscar Castillo and Mapping Another L.A.: The Chicano Art Movement. Some of the acquisitions are currently on view in the Smithsonian exhibition Our America: The Latino Presence in American Art.
Whittier Daily News, February 3, 2014 (PDF)
All “In the News” articles are available in PDF format on the CSRC website.
Advance screening of Cesar Chavez
The CSRC is pleased to present an advance screening of Cesar Chavez, directed by Diego Luna, at the James Bridges Theater in Melnitz Hall on Friday, March 7. The evening will begin with a reception at 6:15 p.m., and the screening will begin at 7:15 p.m. Following the screening will be a panel discussion, “Mexican Cinema, UFW, Mexican Labor, and the Chicana/o Movement,” with Luna; Arturo Rodríguez, UFW president; and Héctor Calderón, professor of Spanish and Portuguese. Calderón is the organizer of this event, in collaboration with the CSRC. The event is co-sponsored by the UCLA César E. Chávez Department of Chicana/o Studies, the UCLA Department of Spanish and Portuguese, the UCLA Office for Diversity and Faculty Development, Melnitz Movies, and CANANA. Tickets are free, but an RSVP is required and seats are limited. RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org. A name and email address must be provided for each RSVP; 2 tickets maximum per request. The panel discussion will be videotaped and available in coming weeks on CSRC YouTube. Tickets for this event are now sold out.
Asco exhibition opens in Marseille
Asco and Friends: Exiled Portraits, an exhibition organized by Le Cartel and the CSRC and co-curated by Celine Kopp, Chon A. Noriega, and Pilar Tompkins Rivas, opens March 8. This is the first major exhibition in France of works by the Chicano artist collective Asco. The exhibition runs through July 6 in the Tour-Panorama at Friche la Belle de Mai in Marseille, France. For more information, visit Le Cartel’s website.
All CSRC events are free unless otherwise noted. Programs are subject to change. For the most current information, visit the Events page on the CSRC website.
You Found Me exhibition in final weeks
The exhibition You Found Me: Photographs by Christopher Anthony Velasco remains on view at the CSRC Library through March 21 during regular library hours (Monday–Friday, 10:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.). The exhibition is free and open to the public.
New archival collections
The CSRC is proud to announce the addition of the Rosalio Muñoz Papers to its archival holdings. Rosalio Muñoz is a UCLA alum. In 1968 he was the first Chicano to be elected UCLA student body president. He made a stand against the war in Vietnam by publicly refusing induction, and he co-chaired the Chicano Moratorium Committee, formed to protest the war, the draft, and the large number of Chicanos dying in service. Muñoz was also very active in the Justice for Janitors campaign in Los Angeles during the 1990s. His collection includes personal papers that document his father’s career in education and social work as well as his own career as an activist leader.
The CSRC is also honored to announce the addition of the David Sánchez Papers to its holdings. Sánchez was one of the founders of the Brown Berets. Founded in 1966 as the Young Citizens for Community Action, the group was originally organized to address discrimination in Los Angeles schools. As they became more involved with a variety of issues affecting the Chicano community they became more militant, and in 1967 the name of the organization was changed to the Brown Berets. This collection includes photographs and papers related to Sánchez’s work with the Brown Berets as well as his more recent community activism.
To learn more about CSRC collections and projects please email your queries to the CSRC librarian, Lizette Guerra, at email@example.com.
New issue of Aztlán
The Spring 2014 issue of Aztlán: A Journal of Chicano Studies is on its way to subscribers. The essay section opens with an examination of the international debate sparked by the Mexican postal service’s release of a stamp series featuring a racial caricature. The following essays consider the representation of immigration statistics in Arizona’s highest-circulating conservative newspaper, the colloquial and official terminology associated with clandestine migration between Mexico and the United States, and the representation of rasquache camp in novels by John Rechy and Felicia Luna Lemus.
Jotería studies is the focus of the dossier section. Twelve essays explore the evolving field from an interdisciplinary perspective. VIVA, an organization founded to promote gay and lesbian Latina/o artists, is the subject of the editor’s commentary. The artist’s communiqué features the work of Bernardo Diaz. A subscription to Aztlán includes two printed issues each year, plus full online access to every issue ever published. Subscribe today!
Image: Pseudoturquoisers (fotonovela), 1981; color photograph by Harry Gamboa, Jr. Courtesy of the artist. © Asco; photograph © 1981 Harry Gamboa, Jr.