Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Chicanos



On the same afternoon as the Civic Center protests, the Van Ness entrance to City Hall was being used to set up a catered wedding inside.



Society events in San Francisco could hardly exist without legions of Spanish-speaking labor to assemble and then tear them down quickly.



It has always struck me as bizarre that Americans, thanks to our mass media, know just about every news detail that concerns postage-stamp-sized Israel across the Atlantic Ocean, while there is literally never any news about our huge neighbor to the south, Mexico, which is currently going through as interesting and ghastly a political time as the United States.



This made it all the more surprising that a huge, ambitious exhibition opened recently at the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park called "CHICANO."



The bulk of the exhibit opened in San Antonio in 2001 and has been traveling around the country ever since.



The first section is a collection of paintings that are mostly from the collection of Cheech Marin, the Chicano half of the Cheech and Chong pothead comedy duo who made a collection of funny, wonderfully terrible movies and comedy albums in the 1970s and 1980s.



Marin has gone on to character parts in a long line of movies, a famous "Nash Bridges" TV sidekick part, and has been playing with music, children's books, and just finished directing "Latinologues" on Broadway.



He also buys "Chicano" art, and the collection is just smashing.



The paintings are in every possible style...



...from photorealism...



...to surrealism...



...to impressionism...



...to neo-pre-Raphaelite.



What they all seemed to share in common, besides their often extraordinary size...



...was the fact that not a single painter was afraid of color.



There is quite a bit of humor in the exhibit...



...and the brightness of vision can get psychedelic...



...as if you're wandering around on marijuana brownies.



That may be why the museum spectators all seemed to be having a marvelous time at the show.



The second section of the show had been put together by the museum itself and San Francisco's Mission Cultural Center.



Unfortunately, the exhibition was politically correct, pallid and dull...



...especially after the rooms of wild paintings preceding it.



I was stopped by a security guard from taking any more surreptitious, non-flash photos when I got to the third section of the exhibit, which is a wildly surreal set of multimedia exhibits that is immensely fun.



The security guard was sweet and sympathetic when I told her what the photos were for (you, my dear readers), and since she was so kind, I promised to stop snapping. So if you're in town, go see the show instead. It's great.

3 comments:

Heidi said...

Since I don't live in the city, I really appreciate seeing the show. I love it (& consider it comp for the SF politic talking heads). Thanks!

Houston said...

I've seen the Chicano show three times and plan on going again Friday evening. I was a bit surprised when I saw your first picture. Photographs of the exhibit are not allowed. Tsk, tsk.

AlbGlinka said...

Mike: Wow, looks like a great exhibit-- thanks for the non-Museum approved pics. I will go and see it.

Hey, I'm picking up a paintbrush again-- just started a painting class at Fort Mason thru CCSF. So maybe that gouache painting you bought will be worth something one day...