ARTS

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April 18, 2008

Chicano art up close—Con Safos

Name not withstanding, the National Museum of Mexican Art is a rather unprepossessing place: a smallish stucco–brick building in a suburb 20 minutes away from campus. One would not expect a fascinating, if somewhat unfocused, collection of contemporary Chicano art in such a place. The National Museum, however, has found its niche, and has collected a testament to the wildly different artistic reactions to the movement and culture of economically dispossessed Mexicans.

This is an ambitious plan, of course. The exhibit does strive for a kind of comprehension, but unfortunately fails to construct Con Safos showcases a remarkable variety of media and styles.

Infestatión Tinta Políticos depicts giant green hands manipulating Hispanic politicians wearing masks of Caucasian facesThe Same Old Place, which depicts the lithe form of a girl in white melting into a forlorn older woman, also in white, is worth a look. One might argue that it is his painting Celebrations that really gets to heart of not only his work, but the entire show: It depicts a lovingly-cared-for shack, and in the front yard, a small shrine to the Virgin de Guadalupe shares space with an American flag.

fs Doing Timeth dignity, but his half-closed eyes suggest a deep, deep weariness. It perfectly embodies the two goals of this exhibit: It is one of the best work by the contemporary Hispanic artist community, and it presses the viewer think to think about a much maligned, easily stereotyped character in a very sympathetic way.

Broken Column are another treat in the galleryh, which leaves the viewer wondering what Con Safos is trying to achieve. Is it going primarily for a political context, is it merely trying to show the best Chicano art, or perhaps both?

Regardless, the remarkable variety of works present in Con Safos an entertaining potpourri of engaging works that is certainly worth checking out.