I believe that
culture and people are defined by their language. The way you speak and what
you say can define your priorities, your values and needs. I feel that culture
and language here in Los Angeles are yet to be determined. Our self-definition
as a people is in flux. The new abstraction is social abstraction, where new
ideas, thoughts, shapes and word are being introduced with new meanings.
point of view of what I choose to paint to define myself is this concept of
language as an artform. I describe what I believe are the boundaries, strengths
and explosions of street language. I describe identity. I paint names or symbols
of cultural and social groups, define borders of territory, and retell conversations
of conflict. Strengths and boundaries are what help to define us as a people,
and from a local and world perspective, street language can tell us who we
are and where weÕre going.
A majority of my paintings are done on canvas, but painted to represent concrete,
(resembling a bridge or wall along the Loa Angeles freeway). On these stained,
sooty skins, I investigate the inner symbology of street writings. Even though
there are differences in universal languages, there is a common understanding
in universal writings.
have symbology and street language, either as graffiti to identify themselves,
or it may be found in the form of tattoos or corporate logos.
We all identify ourselves with symbols.
More Pompadours, 1996
Painting on Canvas
This large painting is a personal journey of my past. The big skull in No
More Pompadours is a representation of how all us young men felt in the
1960Õs. We were all young teenagers in a Elvis Presley world. Anyone who was
a rebel, also into the music or cruising, wanted to be with ÒBig Hair.Ó Our
West Coast traditions were our biggest influences. For example, movie stars
had big hair, so did the surfers, lower riders and the Black Panther party.
Today the rebel spirit is still within all of us, but it has changed into
more modern styles. The hair is a symbol of my generation of Chicanos. ItÕs
burning off to make way for the next larger, stronger and smarter young men.
Their hair style is a total shave. They prefer a ÒBuzz Head,Ó no hair at all.
This painting represents my own spiritual transformation into the future with
I also claim Los Angeles as my ancestral homeland, and have painted in the
lower left corner a ÒSoy de L.A.,Ó announcing my barrio.
Dios Y Oro, 1992
Painted Wood Sculpture
This is a stone sculpture of a new world Aztec Stella, illustrating how a
European gang (the Conquistadores: Cristobal Colon, Cortez, Cabeza de Vaca,
Alvarado, Cordoba, King Ferny and Queen Izzy of Spain) have come into another
cultureÕs territory and claimed it as their own.
Presenting Christ as their leader, symbolized by the Spanish cross, the Conquistadores
destroyed the Mezzo-American cultures. They burned and tagged (gang style)
over them. The new captains usurped the wealth, religious culture, arts and
language of the new world.
Graffiti is a language of defining acquired territory. New symbols show allegiance
to the European world order. Defining your culture, overthrowing another culture
for the glory of your own, and protecting your culture is an endless repetition
of the human endeavor.
The year is A–o Loco (Year of the Crazy) 1492, but these actions of cultural
suppression continue and thrive to the present day.