To Larry Yáñez, the creative impulse itself has always been more important than the choice of medium. Initially educated as a musician, he has continued to maintain his musical activities alongside his work in visual media and cites Bach, Beethoven, and Hendrix among his influences. Yáñez studied music at Arizona Western College for two years, then changed his focus to the study of visual arts from 1972 to 1975. He told a journalist that he had come to Arizona State University in Tempe (ASU) in 1975 determined to become an artist but with little if any interest in Mexican or Chicano art. That feeling began to change with his exposure to the Mexican gallery at the ASU Art Museum, where he was intrigued by such items as a Yaqui death cart, originally used for Easter ceremonials. Yáñez was completely won over by a trip to a Tucson exhibition of Mexican folk art: “As a result of that trip I was hooked into my old culture.” In 1977 he graduated from ASU with a B.F.A. in sculpture. In later years he participated in printmaking workshops at Xicanindio in Mesa, Arizona, and at Self-Help Graphics in Los Angeles and became an active member of the Movimiento Artístico del Río Salado (MARS) in Phoenix. He has acknowledged that his sculptures, prints, paintings, and other visual works are influenced by traditional folk artists but that he has not considered himself a folk artist: “Folk artists are usually anonymous, their work discovered long after they have passed on."
In Ay Juana Cholla (a pun also read as "I want a cholla" or "I wanna show ya"), we are introduced to the archetypal house on the hill. However, although it may be as square as a New England saltbox, this is no conventional house, but rather one evocative initially of a Pueblo Indian and subsequently a mestizo tradition that cumulatively has endured for hundreds, in fact thousands, of years. Lit by the light of a tortilla moon, punctuated by a sky filled with stars and the portent of a shooting star, this abode of Chicano-Amerindian provenance, with its adobe walls and its ceiling fortified by timbers of Ponderosa pine, invites entry and further inspection if only we can get past the daunting cacti with their needles and the augury of a steer's skeletal head of bleached, moonlit bone.
1999|Lithograph|29.5"x22"| Edition of 100
©2000 Bilingual Review/Press and Larry Yáñez