Sunday, July 21, 2013

Sometimes My Program Me Da ASCO

Spray Paint LACMA (or Project Pie in De/Face)
I'm not sure that I know how to react to many things. Lately I've been in a writing slump, mainly for this blog. Possibly due to the fact that lately my energies have been spent focused on my academic writing, it is soul draining work. I guess maybe it just means I'm more a creative writer than an academic writer. I mean don't get me wrong, when I was doing my course work for my program, which is heavily focused on Chicano studies, I was excited to read many of the offerings by my professors. I felt the same when I had to read and take notes in preparation for my comprehensive examinations, because I would end up reading something about the history of Xicanos/as that would make me think to myself, "Wow, I never knew that." It wasn't necessarily just history, it was also Chicano/a culture, or let's say the Chicano Art Movement, such as the Chicano art collective, ASCO.
No Movie (Picture from
ASCO mainly originally consisted of Harry Gamboa Jr., Gronk, Willie Herrón, and Patssi Valdez. I enjoyed reading about them as I prepped for my comp exams, mainly because they seemed to have a tongue in cheek rebellious spirit. For example, this rebellious streak is best showcased when they tried to get a Chicano/a art exhibit at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), but were denied because according to LACMA, “Chicanos made graffiti, not art, hence their absence from the gallery walls [. . .]” (Gonzalez, Fox, and Noriega 14). ASCO's response was to spray paint their names on the exterior walls of LACMA, and they referred to it as Spray Paint LACMA (or Project Pie In De/Face). They essentially took what was said about them as Xicanos, and they reaffirmed it, and at the same time they made the LACMA building a piece of genuine ASCO artwork. 
ASCO Days of the Dead Performance (Pic from
They were a group of artists that worked with the rasquache aesthetic, making do with what they had on hand. They are known for their Stations of the Cross, The Walking Mural, and No Movies. Some of them are performance pieces, or what might be considered real life artwork (The Walking Mural). According to Gamboa, “the artists were intent on countering the negative stereotypes that had plagued the public image and private psyche of contemporary Chicanos. They were concerned with the efforts of traditionalists to replace old stereotypes with new ones” (124). 
I did the Wikipedia thing on the collective and it looks like they're all still doing art at some level, I'll include the links if anyone is actually interested in finding out what became of them. I'm not sure why this post went down this direction, but it possibly has to do with the mind-numbing focus of having to write academically, and I think I secretly wish I would have spent more time using the right side of my brain. Which in turn led me to ASCO and their doings, engaging Xicanismo and artwork. I had started out not knowing what to write about today, and then ASCO came to mind, and it reminded me why enjoy being in my program. 


Gronk (Wikipedia)
Harry Gamboa Jr. (Wikipedia)
Patssi Valdez (Wikipedia)
Willie Herrón (Wikipedia)
ASCO (Wikipedia)

González, Rita, Howard N. Fox, and Chon Noriega, eds. Phantom Sightings: Art After the Chicano Movement.  Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008.

 Gamboa, Harry. “In the City of Angels, Chameleons, and Phantoms: ASCO, a Case Study of Chicano Art in Urban Tones (or ASCO Was a Four-Member Word).”   Chicano Art: Resistance and Affirmation, 1965-1995.  Eds. Griswold del Castillo, Richard, McKenna, Teresa, and Yarbro-Bejarano, YvonneLos Angeles: Wight Art Gallery, 1991. 121-130. 

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