Exhibitions/Installation in Progress
Pachucos y Sirenas
February 8 – May 26, 2018
Pachucos y Sirenas exhibition will feature old school and new school artists that share an affinity with the Pachuco legacy. Artists such as Justin Favela, Antonia Fernandez, Carlos Fresquez, Josiah Lopez, Jerry Vigil, and Daniel Salazar will highlight the impact that the 1940’s Pachuco legacy had on the American experience. Exhibition programming will include contributing fashion designers Cha Cha Romero and Alejandra Peralta, Suavecito Car Club, and artist Alfredo Cardenas. The exhibition will run from February 8, 2018 – May 26, 2018. The opening reception will be at Museo de las Americas at 861 Santa Fe Drive on Thursday, February 8 from 6-9 pm, followed by an artist talk on Friday, February 9 from 6-8 pm.
Museo de las Americas continues to be the premier Latino Museum of the rocky mountain region by delivering an insight into the Pachuco era of the late 1930s and 40s, where the young Mexican-American youth cultivated a highly stylized language, culture, and fashion as a way of expressing cultural pride during a time where the very essence of being Latino was un-American. The exhibition will feature the Caló language—now influentially woven in the way we speak Spanish today, the zoot suit that not only is a symbol of masculinity and rebellion but cultural pride, along with the boundaries that the Latina crossed to reclaim her sexuality and individuality. The exhibition looks at the role that fashion plays in cultivating street identities in where it creates a comradery among individuals who have the freedom to invent a lifestyle all their own.
Paintings fashioned by emerging Denver-based artist Antonia Fernandez embrace the body-modifying Latina—the pachuca, who re-defined what it meant to defy conventional beauty standards of the “domesticated woman”of the 1940s.
Jerry Vigil, a well-established artist of Denver, Colorado, uses a mixture of traditional and nontraditional materials to carry on the stories of the Latino Community. He famously takes the Calavera and intertwines the aesthetic with pop culture idols of Latino descent. By using the skeleton—a strong symbolic feature of the Mexican Identity—it speaks on the dual identity of the Mexican American.
Justin Favela, a Las Vegas-based artist, will produce a full-size lowrider piñata. In recent years, Favela has gained spotlight for his encapsulating installations, using accessible materials such as cardboard, paper, and glue to create fantasy-like renditions of familiar objects of Latinidad that would be able to communicate across cultural boundaries. His art recently was exhibited at the Denver Art Museum during Mi Tierra with his large-scale installation of Fridalandia.
Daniel Salazar, an art veteran of Denver Colorado, illuminates the Pachuco legacy with his portraits of the National Chicano Dance Theater. The photographs can be seen with men and women fashioned like a traditional Pachuco and Sirena laying at the feet of Denver’s skyline. The dance company was premiering Quatro Epocas (1979), a historical performance at the Bonfils theater directed by Enrique Montoya. The photograph and play serve as a reminder that Latinos have always struggled to define themselves among the shackles of the government.
Carlos Fresquez, recalls the Pachuco mentality in his revision of the 1940’s pachuco. What is fascinating, in his most famous work Pink Pachuco, is he takes the already infamous zoot suit and subverts it by spray-painting it pink. This unleashes a dialogue that begins to dismantle the essence of machismo embedded deeply in the Mexican- American psyche.
Josiah Lopez, a graffiti muralist and long-time resident of the La Alma Lincoln Park neighborhood, Lopez uses the street as inspiration in much of his work that touches on the complicated narratives of urban identities.