By Raymond R. Beltran
Angry? The artist Laura Molina? Maybe at a diluted entertainment industry she refers to as a “fascist patriarchal system” that doesn’t benefit Latino artists outside the traditional glitz and glam mold currently being nurtured by television, so, the magazine she created endeavors to introduce a market of Chican@ artists producing a more concealed art that represents a beneath-the-surface attitude, and which refuses to grovel for mainstream acceptance.
Molina’s Chican@ Art Magazine, the @ symbolizing the contemporary tech times and the gender impartiality employed within the pages, was released at Chicano Perk Café in National City last week, surprising a slew of contributing rebel writers and artists, as well as the magazine’s first consumer base of Latino art connoisseurs, with 48 pages of gloss, color, and quality.
“We only had the magazine for a few days before they were all sold,” said Chicano Perk co-owner Rene Guzman.
The Los Angeles-based magazine is the by-product of Molina’s love/ hate relationship with trying to survive as the artist-slash-rebel fighter that she is. The idea came to mind late last year when Molina was exhibiting her most prominent painting Amor Alien (sexy, green female extraterrestrial being embraced by a nude ex-boyfriend) at the L.A. County Fair. A passerby had queried why the provocative piece hadn’t been submitted to San Francisco’s Juxtapoz Art and Culture Magazine, an indy journal that Molina says you’d never catch displaying authentic Chicano pieces.
“Why should we be begging others to cover our work? Instead, someone should be covering what we’re doing,” she answers.
“This magazine will be dedicated to who we are now, and will rely upon the contribution of those artists and scholars that wish to declare and empower Chicano Art by their creative endeavors,” she writes in CAM’s introduction. “Just don’t tell us who we are, we will do that for you and ourselves.”
This first edition includes San Diego avant-gardes like the Chicanonaut Lunar Landing Team and shocking photos of their futuristic cosmic findings on the “brown side” of Crater Menudoranius, along with a cameo by the team themselves from the year 2525.
Also included is cover art by Low Brown Artist Jaime “Germs” Zacarias, Max Benavidez’s feature on multi-media artist Gronk, a biography of Muralist Carlota Espinoza by Renee Fajardo, and an article by San Diego’s Video Artist/Producer Sandra Peña-Sarmiento on satirist Victor Payan and artist Perry Vasquez’s Keep On Crossin’ movement, a magic monito and manifesto-accompanied “conceptual art project” about crossing paranoia-driven borders of the mind, often relating, but not tied to, immigration.
“The timing is ripe for bringing more attention to Keep On Crossin as it gains legitimacy and momentum in the art world,” says Sarmiento. “CAM is looking for artists exactly at this point in their career, emerging artists, whose work is beginning to be collected by museums and institutions and is therefore appreciating in value ... [It] seeks to promote Chicano art as a highly desirable, collectable and increasingly valuable investment.”
To start, 3,000 copies of CAM were made for $6,700. “Not bad,” Molina says about Chican@ Art Magazine, which is an independent publishing business. She decided to steer clear of non-profit status to avoid a “seat mongering” administration of board members.
State grants for micro-businesses and business ads paid the production bills.
The first to purchase space in CAM are groups like Austin, Texas’ Serie Project, Inc., Los Angeles’s Center Theatre Group, Avenue 50 Studio, and Arte Ganas Mural Art Workshop, to name a few.
“We have a big buying power,” says CAM’s Graphic Designer Daniel Gonzalez. “This is something we have to get into. We should support our grassroots projects in our own communities.”
But don’t expect big wig corporations to come knocking on CAM’s door for ad space just yet. Before Molina was receiving “fantastic, overwhelming” responses for the magazine, she was coined as being “The Angriest Woman in the World” for rabble rousing in her old stomping grounds, Hollywood.
In the mid-90s, Molina had sued Walt Disney Imagineering while working for them as a scenic artist. With movies under her belt like the Back to the Future sequels, The Rocketeer, and Hocus Pocus, she noticed she was being side-stepped for touch up projects that should have been offered to her under union policies. The lawsuit ended with a $36,000 settlement, a sum she says wasn’t worth the four year effort but well worth her engagement with the entertainment in-dustry’s anti-discrimination communities and work with the American Civil Liberties Union.
She went on to initiate a picket line on New Line Cinema’s doorstep when word got out that a white actress, Madonna mentioned, was being sought after to play Frida Kahlo in the biographical movie Frida about the Mexican artist.
“Latinos weren’t being represented, and they weren’t going to take Frida from us,” she says, with half-sarcasm, about the entertainment industry in the 90s. “If you weren’t black or white, you were invisible, and they refused to [cast] a Mexican actress just so they could broaden their audience.”
She says Chican@ Art Magazine is a way of saying, “We’re out to smash that stuff. Come on, it’s the twenty-first century, and there’s things that need to go.”
Admitting that her humor goes over the top and at times over the heads of many, she chuckled, in solitude, after verbally relaying a sudden epiphany while CAM staff took photos outside Chicano Perk last week, “And here’s a really spectacular moment where no white people are involved!”
For now, the magazine will surface quarterly so Laura Molina can get back to paintings she’s ignored since March, but she hopes one day, it will sustain itself on a bi-monthly basis.
The next issue, set to be published on September 30th, will feature female cover artist Isis Rodriguez.
For more information on the magazine you can visit their site at: www.chicanoartmagazine.com