Axis Mundo: Queer Networks in Chicano L.A. is an exhibition of Queer Latin art from 1960 – 1990s Los Angeles at 205 Hudson Gallery in Tribeca, Manhattan from June 21 – August 19, 2018.
The exhibition explores the connections in a network of over fifty Latino LGBT artists. It examines how community, cultural background, sexual orientation and the international energy of Los Angeles brought these artists together and connected them with the world at large.
It’s worth noting that in that time, as LGBT Mexican – Americans, this group of artists experienced double the discrimination.
The exhibition’s title is a wordplay on Axis Mundi, the world center or world tree that connects heaven and earth, and where the four directions meet. It’s a sacred place where high and low in all possible forms mix and mingle. In that sacred space, you can change your level.
This is a traveling exhibition from Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, the Los Angeles Getty Museum’s far-reaching exhibition of Latin American and Latino art in 2017.
This exhibition is part of the art world’s broad reexamination of the previously under-appreciated and undervalued realm of Latin American art.
Chicano (short for Mexicano in spoken Spanish) is an older, more West Coast term of self-identification for a person with a Mexican – American heritage, especially a person from the rural countryside.
It’s like “Jíbaro,” the Puerto Rican nickname for farmers from the countryside, and the Colombian, Venezuelan and Brazilian nickname for cowboys of the mountains and high plains.
In American English, it’s like saying I am a hillbilly, or a good old country boy (or girl).
My high-school classmates in suburban Los Angeles identified as Chicano. I didn’t understand their anger then, but I do now. “Chicano” gained popularity in the 1970s after our immigrant parents told us we were not going to be Mexican at all, but were to live as good Americans. We tried that, but found the doors of opportunity closed to us, just because we have a Mexican heritage.
If our American identity wouldn’t be accepted, we needed another identity. That identity was Chicano. Chicanx adapts the Latinx gender-neutral designation. Today Latino has largely replaced Chicano.
Curators at the ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives in the USC Libraries (University of Southern California) identified Edmundo “Mundo” Meza (1955 – 1985) as a central figure in the LGBT Chicano artistic community in Los Angeles.
In 2014, the Getty Foundation provided a $95,000 grant to explore Mundo’s life and work for 2017’s Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA exhibition. Axis Mundo is the result.
Mundo worked in a variety of mediums and did many collaborations. He worked in an interesting time that set the foundations for where we are now as a society.
It was a time of great change after a period of relative calm following the end World War II. The 1960s brought the Civil Rights Movement and protests against the Vietnam War. The youth movement exploded worldwide in 1966.
Latino kids saw African – American kids claiming “Black Power” and wanted something for themselves. It was “Chicano Power.” In 1969 the Stonewall Riots in Greenwich Village launched the Pride Movement across the country.
The 1960s were the beginning of a broad trend away from the social conformity required to fight World War II, and towards individuality. Really World War II was the last time that Americans of the United States were broadly united in a common purpose.
This might be a bookend exhibition. It documents the start of the individuality trend. The rise of Facebook, selfies, Kardashians and Trumps might be the end of it. We have taken individuality as far as it can go. Now it’s time to start working together.
At New York Latin Culture Magazine we work with 30+ Latin communities. The LGBT community is the best organized of all and has achieved social change faster and farther than any other community. We have learned to work together.
It’s perhaps not a coincidence that “Mundo” means “World” in Spanish.
Artists in Axis Mundo: Queer Networks in Chicano L.A.
This is just a list, but it provides a starting point for the exploration of a group of under-the-radar artists.
- Laura Aguilar
- Jerri Allyn
- Carlos Almaraz
- Skot Armstrong
- David Arnoff
- Steven Arnold
- Judith F. Baca
- Alice Bag
- Tosh Carrillo
- Monte Cazazza
- Edward Colver
- Vaginal Davis
- DIVA TV
- Jerry Dreva
- Tomata Du Plenty
- Simon Doonan
- Tomata du Plenty
- Elsa Flores
- Anthony Friedkin
- Harry Gamboa Jr.
- Roberto Gil de Montes
- Jef Huereque
- Louis Jacinto
- Ray Johnson
- Alison Knowles
- Robert Lambert
- Robert Legorreta (Cyclona)
- Zoe Leonard
- Les Petites Bonbons
- Scott Lindgren
- Mundo Meza
- Judy Miranda
- Ray Navarro
- Nervous Gender
- Graciela Gutiérrez Marx and Edgardo Antionio Vigo
- Richard Nieblas
- Dámaso Ogaz
- Pauline Oliveros
- Ferrara Brain Pan
- Genesis Breyer P-Orridge
- Clemente Padín
- Ruby Ray
- Albert Sanchez
- Teddy Sandoval
- Jack Smith
- Joey Terrill
- Cosey Fanni Tutti
- Patssi Valdez
- Ricardo Valverde
- Jack Vargas
- Gerardo Velázquez
- Johanna Went
- Faith Wilding
The exhibition is curated by C. Ondine Chavoya and David Evans Frantz. Chavoya is Professor of Art History and Latina/o Studies at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts. David Evans Frantz is curator at ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives at the USC Libraries.
The exhibition is organized by ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives at the USC Libraries and The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.
The traveling exhibition is organized by Independent Curators International.
The presentation at Hunter College Libraries is organized by Chief Curator Sarah Watson and Exhibitions Manager Jenn Bratovich.
There is an afternoon kick-off reception at Hunter College in Manhattan’s Upper East Side, followed by the exhibition opening at 205 Hudson Gallery in Tribeca, Manhattan.
Bertha and Karl Leubsdorf Gallery
Upper East Side, Manhattan
Thursday, June 21, 2018 from 3 pm – 4:30 pm
205 Hudson Gallery
Thursday, June 21, 2018 from 6 – 9 pm
There is an exhibition tour led by Axis Mundo curators and artists at 205 Hudson Gallery on Saturday, June 23, 2018 from 3 – 6 pm.
Visit 205 Hudson Gallery
205 Hudson Street
(entrance on Canal between Hudson and Greenwich St)
Wednesday – Sunday: 1 – 6 pm
We have been pushed to the margins of American society for so long that it is really refreshing to get some recognition. Thank you to the USC Libraries, Getty Foundation and Hunter College for believing in us.
For more information, visit huntercollegeartgalleries.org