Last fall I was fortunate to be able to spend some time at Artpace in San Antonio, Texas. I really enjoyed spending time with all the folks there and feel I made some great friends. I met Ruth and Rico at the first art opening I attended there and both were working with an organization called San Anto Cultural Arts. SACA is a small but prolific organization that has been operating out an office on the west side of town. For more details about SACA check them out at this link.
Ruth had just received her BFA from the Chicago Art Institute and Rico has been a volunteer artist with the organization. They are involved with the mural program and offered to give me a tour of their work. I was excited to see what they had been working on so I made my way to their office. They showed me around the head quarters and told me that their founder Manny Castillo had recently passed away from cancer and that the organization was just recovering from the great loss. This was a surprise for me seeing how young this leader was, about 40 years old. The legacy he left with the staff and artists at SACA is definitely one he would be proud of.
Rico keeps a job as a taxi driver so our tour bus was a yellow cab mini van. Awesome! We started out by looking at the murals closest to the office and moved further and further out into the West Side. Ruth explained to me how each mural is lead by different artists in residence. Each of those artists spend time working up themes and ideas that are then presented to the community and the collaborating team. The teams and community members then work together with the resident artist to produce a mural.
Working with several different lead artist keeps the approach fresh and unique for every mural. Ruth recounted how with each mural they had improved not only with ideas but also with materials. She showed me her first mural painted with house paint and how it was already showing fading from the sun. In comparison the mural next to it was painted with a professional grade acrylic paint that was holding up much better. Some of the murals they have produced even include some glasswork and sculptural relief elements. Each mural they showed seemed to get better and better.
As the afternoon went on I was exposed all sorts of murals that they had produced with all sorts of themes such as domestic abuse, health, community leaders, historical musicians and much more. Rico even treated us to a poem that he wrote for the inauguration of one their murals. SACA holds public blessings of their murals that consist of a prayer by a catholic priest, Aztec dancers and Conjunto groups. I feel really honored to have gone on this tour thanks to both Ruth and Rico. Keep up the good work!
Enjoy this triple feature of videos from Slanguage’s three-month Engagement Party residency: Brutalism: A Dance Performance featuring Dub City Tribe, Dislexicon: A Word Performance, and Psychicinema Multiplex.
Brutalism: A Dance Performance featuring Dub City Tribe
For the third installment of their three-month Engagement Party residency at MOCA, artist collective Slanguage presents Brutalism: A Dance Performance featuring Dub City Tribe. The performance will examine the implications of Brutalism, a mid-20th-century architectural style characterized by massive or monolithic forms, usually of poured concrete and typically unrelieved by exterior decoration, within the context of Southern California’s urban landscape. Through choreographed movement, the collective’s teen break-dancing group Dub City Tribe will play with the monumentality that is central to the Brutalist aesthetic, evoke the Brutalist architecture of Los Angeles and Wilmington, California (where Slanguage is based), and explore the consequences of the “concrete jungles” it has yielded. Slanguage DJs will spin genre-skipping sets to create a soundscape for the performance, collaborating dancers and musicians will also perform, and audience members will be encouraged to participate in a nonstop dance-a-thon–style competition.
For the second intervention of their three-month residency as part of MOCA’s Engagement Party program, Slanguage will present Dislexicon: A Word Performance. The term “Dislexicon” combines “dyslexia,” a learning disorder marked by an impaired capacity to interpret spatial relationships, often resulting in severe reading disabilities, with “lexicon,” an inventory of meaningful units in a language. True to its name, Slanguage, a portmanteau itself, will explore the idea of a visual lexicon and its poetics in relationship to text, spoken-word performances, music, and video, turning away from written word in favor of spoken (s)language. Through humor, poetry, text, video, and music, Dislexicon: A Word Performance will examine the many facets of growing up in Los Angeles, metaphorically traversing the urban landscape to mine both its comedic and tragic elements. The performance will feature poetic works by Slanguage members Karla Diaz and Raul “Spew” Vasquez.
THURSDAY, SEPT 3, 7–10pm MOCA Grand Avenue
250 South Grand Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90012
FREE, Cash Bar
For the first event of their three-month Engagement Party residency, Slanguage brings Psychicinema Multiplex, their ongoing series of film screenings, to MOCA. For this iteration, Slanguage will present films in order to respond, in part, to the museum’s landmark 1992 exhibition Helter Skelter: LA Art in the 1990s. In assembling these works and creating a carnival-like environment for viewing them, Slanguage seeks to reexamine the dissonance and dark side of the psyche, Los Angeles, and the art world, pushing those ideas further by addressing Los Angeles’s polarization and presenting visions for its future. Psychicinema Multiplex will be presented in a “multiplex” format that will allow for simultaneous screenings of different films at various locations around the museum’s Grand Avenue campus. Viewers will be invited to discuss the films and their relationship with MOCA’s Helter Skelter exhibition both informally as a group and in formal conversations initiated by Slanguage.
UPDATE from Slanguage:
The event will feature a fortune telling family, telling visitors’ fortunes; an interactive artwork, Artifice Orange, by Slanguage member, Arnold Vargas; and a participatory urban planning exercise, Slang-topia: Rethinking the City, through which artist and urban planner James Rojas will use a medley of recycled materials to assist participants in creating an ideal urban form.