Monday, January 10, 2005
Salomon Huerta, Untitled Head (2002)
The New Chicano Movement by Josh Kun
"I don't think I make Chicano art," says [artist Mario Ybarra, Jr.], standing in Slanguage's backroom, which is cluttered with Mac computers, crates of records, an Osama bin Laden piñata and a spray-painted portrait of reggae singer Jimmy Cliff. "It's something I have learned as a history and acquired as a filter. But right now, I don't think I could say I'm making it. It's like saying I make abstract expressionist painting. I'm not an ab-ex painter. I can't go back and make that art. I make contemporary art that is filtered from a Mexican American experience in Los Angeles."
Ybarra thinks of it as the Edward James Olmos theory of Chicano art. He wants to be less like the actor in "American Me" and "Zoot Suit"—in which Olmos was prison tough and pachuco savvy—and more like Olmos' character in "Blade Runner." In the film's dystopian 2029 L.A. future, Olmos is Gaff—a digital urban polyglot, a Chinese Chicano detective who speaks a street patois of English, Spanish, French, Chinese, Hungarian and German.
"My main drive," says Ybarra, "is not to learn Nahuatl, but to learn Mandarin or Cantonese."
Mario Ybarra, Jr., Go Tell It, 2004