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"Chicano art, beyond rebellion" - Phantom Sightings Review - April 6, 2008

On April 6, 2008, Augustin Gurza reviewed the Phantom Sightings: Art After the Chicano Movement, which included four of my paintings.

(The article also included a photo gallery, which included my "Tropical Baby (Self Portrait)", which can be found here.)

Chicano art, beyond rebellion

Jason Villegas's 'Celestial Situations'Jason Villegas' "Celestial Situations,"

'Phantom Sightings: Art After the Chicano Movement' provides a rare showcase at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

By Agustin Gurza, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
April 6, 2008

VISITORS to the sprawling Chicano art show opening today at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art are greeted by a display of photos depicting a group of daring guerrilla street artists known as ASCO, Spanish for "nausea." The photographs are from the early 1970s -- which seems to defy the show's title, "Phantom Sightings: Art After the Chicano Movement."

In one famous photo from 1972, in the midst of the movement, the museum itself was the target of these Dadaesque subversives protesting the exclusion of Chicano art from its galleries. In "Spray Paint LACMA," ASCO member Patssi Valdez is seen posing outside the museum's walls, which had been tagged overnight by her rebellious cohorts, Gronk, Willie Herron III and Harry Gamboa Jr. This act of creative defiance -- turning the building into a Chicano canvas -- is now enshrined in the very place that sparked the protest by treating Chicanos as the phantoms of the art world. So does this mean that Chicano artists have finally found the acceptance they sought? That they can now put down their spray cans and pursue careers as equals in a harmonious "post-ethnic" art world?

"I have a feeling if I was a young person today, I don't think I would spray paint the museum," Gamboa, 56, an author and college lecturer, answers slyly. "Because now, [tagging] has been felonized, and to put three signatures on a county building might result in three strikes. Who knows if we would all wind up in prison for life and never have the chance to pursue careers as artists?"

Half the artists in the current exhibition weren't even born when Gamboa and company tagged the museum, but they carry on the ASCO conceptual tradition by expressing their own set of social concerns in bold, albeit at times oblique, ways. Thus, the choice of ASCO as preamble is an intriguing invitation to rethink Chicano art, past and present.

Tropical Baby, Self PortraitTropical Baby, Self Portrait

El Jardin Femenil y Otros Ocasos opens at Walter Maciel Gallery

Narco Venus (Angie)Narco Venus (Angie)

I'm thrilled that El Jardin Femenil Y Otros Ocasos opened last weekend at the Walter Maciel Gallery and runs from February 25th- April 7, 2012. Seriously, it felt like giving birth! In this body of work, I continue to explore the role of women and men in narratives associated with the narco-trafficking conflict in Latin America. The paintings explore the role of women in this male-dominated culture of drug trafficking, as well as the men and victims who get entangled in it. The Narco Venus paintings depict women as metaphorical "queens" or goddesses, a la reclining nude. They are set in fantastical jewel-encrusted landscapes, where the euphoria of being in a narcotic-induced state and one of newly found wealth meet their ultimate demise in the dark smudges and marks of an abstract abyss. In smaller paintings, male heads emerge from black landscapes, a nod to countless victims of the narco-wars and to the drug lords themselves. El Jardin Femenil Y Otros Ocasos translated means the female garden and other dark sunsets or twilights. Here the use of the word femenil as opposed to feminine is key to the meaning of the paintings. The word femenil describes a female league or school, while feminine is more about having certain attributes of the femme or girlish kind. I thought this was key, since my paintings are inspired by women involved in the narco-trafficking world, they are in essence, in a league of their own. Y Otros Ocasos can be loosely translated to mean and other sunsets or twilights and refers to the small dark paintings of male heads hidden within the brush. The word ocaso is a beautiful poetic word that you might see pop up in Latin American poets of the Mid-Century usually used to refer to the decline or twilight of life.
The exhibition is comprised of four large scale panoramic paintings of women set in lush jewel-encrusted tropical gardens, small portraits of males (the ocasos), and a video entitled El Reporte Femenil/ The Female Report, a Telemundo style news report about the role of women in Latin American Literature and Politics. More on that later.

La Extranjera (Video)

A masked woman, le samourai, a dog, and One Hundred Years of Solitude.

LA Extranjera from Carolyn Castaño on Vimeo.

$1.00/ Minute at Strangeways Academy June 20th-30th, 2011

Strangeways Academy's $1/Minute: InvitationStrangeways Academy's $1/Minute: Invitation

I was asked to participate in the $1/Minute event by the lovely Ana Llorente of Strangeways Academy.

CC's work in the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Las Vegas

I was commissioned by Eaton Fine Art to make a painting for the new Cosmopolitan Hotel Las Vegas

Electric YandaraElectric Yandara

A View of my painting in situ at the Cosmopolitan Hotel.

Electric Yandara, InstalledElectric Yandara, Installed

For more information on the Art Collection go to Cosmopolitan Hotel Las Vegas

Shadowshop at SFMOMA, opening Dec 2, 2010

CARGA goes to Shadowshop at SFMOMA. CARGA, the collaborative effort between Carolyn Castaño and Gary Dauphin seems to be getting some wind, with invitations to participate in artist made ventures in both San Francisco and Los Angeles. The economy is down and gallery sales may be slow, but artists are putting together their ingenuity, smarts, and skills to work by making comodifiable objets that use their art and design skillz to make accessible things. Hence..the CRAFT revolution as witnessed by sites like and the blog Craftzine, the Local Artisans Bazaar at the Fix in Echo Park, featured in the LA Weekly's best craft bazaar, and smaller shops incorporating artist made wares, such as SPECIFIC, run by Brooks Hudson Thomas, artist turned entrepreneur. At SFMOMA, Shadowshop will be featuring CARGA's t-shirts with soccer all stars- Los Inmortales. Soccer immortals such as Brazil's Pele, Argentina's Maradona, and Colombia's El Pibe. Also featured at Shadowshop will be the Narco Novia tote, a carry-all tote for your narco girl needs.

Shadow Shop, Installation 2: Is it art?Shadow Shop, Installation 2: Is it art?

Shadow Shop at SFMOMA, Installation 3Shadow Shop at SFMOMA, Installation 3

Shadow Shop, Installation 1Shadow Shop, Installation 1

Pele, WhitePele, White

From the SFMOMA website:
Shadowshop is a temporary, alternative store and distribution point, organized by artist Stephanie Syjuco and embedded within the museum's fifth-floor galleries. While operating as an actual mom-and-pop-style store, Shadowshop is also a platform for exploring the ways in which artists are navigating the production, consumption, and dissemination of their work. For almost six months, Shadowshop will feature hundreds of local Bay Area artist products, give museum visitors access to a wide variety of affordable wares, and provide a snapshot of a vibrant and energetic art scene.

Pele, BluePele, Blue

Asesinados United

Asesinados UnitedAsesinados United

Press Release
June 29, 2010


Asesinados United by Carolyn Castaño

Reception: July 10, 2010, 7:00-9:00 PM

1904 East 7th Place
Los Angeles, CA 90021 USA
213 4881280

PØST presents Asesinados United: Works by Carolyn Castaño.

Asesinados United, is part art exhibition, part lo-fi pop-up store and part World Cup closing party. For her one-night show Castaño has created prints and original t-shirt designs that memorialize or re-imagine both soccer greats, as well as players who were murdered at the height of their glory.

The Asesinados United series of prints and shirts considers the role of the soccer player’s image in invoking a fanatical passion for futbol, each face a powerful vessel for locally distinct – yet global – notions of heroism, manhood, pride and financial success. As representatives of their country playing on the world stage, a soccer player’s performance during the Cup has national implications, elevating him to national hero or, in the case of players on the 2010 French national team, reducing them to national embarrassments. Sometimes a player’s performance may even have deadly consequences, as with the own-goal that cost Colombian defender Andrés Escobar his life after the 1994 World Cup. Just as failure on the pitch can cost a man his life, so can too much success, as it was for Thiago Jotta da Silva, a Brazilian footballer who was brutally murdered by a jilted ex-girlfriend, or Joe Gaetjens, a Haitian soccer player who scored the winning goal in the US vs. England 1950 World Cup in Brazil, only to return to Haiti a hero and be disappeared by the Duvalier regime.

Running in parallel to the Asesinados, the Inmortales F.C. series will feature recent World Cup players who have made their mark in the 2010 World Cup, or are simply immortal.

Gallery hours are and receptions are 7-9 PM. For further information please
contact HK Zamani or ... at 213 4881280 or ...,
or email

1904 East 7th Place LA CA 90021 USA
213 4881280

Bookmeat-A Fundraiser for Side Street Projects

Bookmeat Benefit Auction for Side Street ProjectsBookmeat Benefit Auction for Side Street Projects

Bookmeat is an exciting event benefiting Side Street Projects on November 21, 2009 from 6 pm-10 pm at the Brick Building in Culver City . For those of you not familiar with Side Street Projects, the program founded by Karen Atkinson and Joe Luttrel in 1992, is a completely mobile artist-run non-profit organization, which teaches artists to be self-reliant with workshops such as "Get Your Shit Together" bootcamp for artists, "Best Professional Practices Podcast Series" and the "Equipment Co-op", which provides access to equipment usually too expensive for some of us artist civilians to access. What I find really wonderful is Side Street Projects own resourcefulness, operating out of Pasadena in two restored vintage trailers with a solar energy array, Side Street is completely wireless, mobile, and self-sustaining. I've been wanting to have my mobile studio for years and this is really an inspiration!
For the Bookmeat, artists were asked to donate a book that had influenced them or played some part in their art practice. I was having the toughest time trying to think of what to give. I have a wide collection of books and authors who have influenced me in some way. Do I give the catalogue of Lari Pittman's paintings, an artist and mentor who has influenced and supported my work? Or do I give "Smart Women Finish Rich" a very useful book on how to survive capitalism , written for women by a man. Thanks mom! Or Do I something more say Rosalind Krauss, Bachelors, which influenced an earlier body of work? I saw some of the fine examples of artists who had turned in their copies early ( You eager beavers!) and saw the wonderful drawings by Steve Roden and Christopher Russell. A light bulb went off in my head the inscription can be more like an annotation or drawings in the form of annotations......aaaahhhhhh....

BookMeat: Virginia Vallejo's "Loving Pablo, Hating Escobar"Loving Pablo, Hating Escobar by Virginia Vallejo

The bootleg version of Amando Pablo, Odiando Escobar was my donation to Bookmeat. It was given to me by my father. He bought the illicit copy from the street vendors in Cali, which I feel gives it another layer of meaning. Cali, the home of brothers Gilberto and Miguel Rodriguez- Orejuela of the Cali Cartel were mortal enemies with Pablo and his Medellin Cartel. According to Virginia's book, a night spent in the arms of Gilberto was what launched an all out turf war between rival cartels. If you're intrigued, 2010 promises the release of the English version, Loving Pablo, Hating Escobar and if you contact me, I might personalize your copy. Oh yeah and please buy from an authorized dealer.

Some Recent Shows and Projects

  • C.O.L.A City of Los Angeles Individual Artist Award at LAMAG Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, Opens May 22, 2011
  • Drugs, Mexico/America, Variedades, A Performance Salon curated by Ruben Martinez at The Echo, May 14th, 2011 5 pm
  • Prints 2.0 Analogue<>Digital at the Meridian Gallery, San Francisco May 13th 6-9 pm, closes May 15th, 2011
  • Radio interview with Adolfo Guzman Lopez on 89. 3 K.P.C.C February 1, 2011
  • C.OL.A Exhibition preview featured on KCET Adolfo Guzman Lopez blog Movie Miento January 25, 2011
  • The Cosmopolitan Hotel Collection Cosmopolitan Hotel Opens December 15, 2010
  • Shadowshop at SFMOMA, Organized by artist Stephanie Syjuco, Dec 2, 2010- April 28, 2011
  • Walter Maciel Gallery screens Vanitas in the Short Film Series, July 10th-August 20th, 2010, Los Angeles, CA
  • POST opens Asesinados United by Carolyn Castaño, July 10th, 2010, 7:00-10:00 pm, Los Angeles, CA
  • El Museo del Barrio in New York city, opens Phantom Sightings: Art After the Chicano Movement, March 24, 2010

Favorite This! at the Meridian Gallery, San Francisco, CA

Favorite This! InviteFavorite This! Invite

I organized a one night screening of videos by artists from Los Angeles and San Francisco entitled, Favorite This! at the Meridian Gallery in San Francisco. Part of my motivation for organizing the screening, was being inspired by some of my friends video pieces and wanting to share of these with a larger public. I made a call out to friends and friends of friends to send me their stuff. Without much in the way of parameters, I said "just send me what you have". Everyday was a delight, when I would go to my mailbox and right there next to my ever accruing bills, were these little packages containing the submissions for Favorite This! Each one was individually wrapped and packaged, reflecting the artist' particular artistic mission and taste. From the plain bubble wrapped CD mailer, a pink picture book, a DVD box set, a glassine wrapped disc. Some nights, I would come home to find little discs tucked into the planter next to my front door. With my live in love, exclaiming, " I opened the door and a weary eyed girl handed me this disc!" Were those the tired eyes of late night video editing? Oh final cut..How I love thee. I set out to arrange the pieces in the screening into some cohesive format, sitting for hours viewing Quicktimes and making notes on them. I noticed themes in common, like a certain quality of light, narrative or texture. The screening opened up with pieces I saw as exploring narrative and drama. In a lovely piece by Jordan Biren, It Was Dark as Night and Shadows, chiaroscuros hide and reveal characters trapped in a ritual of smoky eyed looking and not looking.

In others there was the use of collage aesthetics, see Tricia Lawless Murray's L' Autoportrait, cut-n-paste film making ( Krista Chael's Black Bayou Swan animation or as I like to call it faux animation, as in Nao Bustamante's #1, from the series the Earth people, where her champaign poodle FUFU is coiffed in the manner of an American Bison. The city and nature were juxtaposed in Michael Damm's video, a projection of urban locales projected onto a Oakland street corner and Stephanie Allespach's Walden Musings: Aims of an Anarchist. There was also a lovely marriage of works in the politically charged pieces by Andy Cox and Nancy Popp in Hostage video and United States Code 2340A, respectively. The last sequence of video's explored the artist as narrator, auteur, or Christ figure. Gordon Winiemko in Meet the Artist or Cliff Hengst as Jesus Christ stalking San Francisco's Mission district,a spoof or commentary on the sidewalk proselytizing that occurs in street corners across America. The screening room at Meridian was pretty filled until approximately 11:30, when the crowd started to peter out. After that only the hardcores were left standing or leaning to watch the LA Art Girls's piece Strangelove, a remake line by line and scene by scene of Stanley Kubrick's 1964 Doctor Strangelove, Or how I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.

Here is a little blurb from the press release.......
Favorite This! takes its title from the blogging and viral video phenomenon of “favoriting” and “sharing” an internet find. Favorite This! connects the work of video artists with video work spread across the internet in social media websites such as Facebook, My Space and You-Tube.
Video makers can be said to be predecessors or even trailblazers of the current DIY video phenomenon found on sites such as You-Tube, where the democratic platform has allowed everyone from the amateur filmmaker to TV networks and Hollywood production houses to post videos for public view. As early adaptors of film- making equipment, such as the movie camera, the video camera and more recently digital editing software, artists have used DIY strategies to bend the medium of film and video, in works that are abstract, performative, and narrative.

Ursula Brookbank &amp;amp; Jordan BirenUrsula Brookbank &amp; Jordan Biren

M.O.B. Mail Order Brides ( Jennifer Wofford, Reanne Estrada, Eliza Barrios)M.O.B. Mail Order Brides ( Jennifer Wofford, Reanne Estrada, Eliza Barrios)