Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Tilting at Windmills

I had a conversation yesterday with Gilbert "Magu" Sanchez Lujan, an artist who has been working since the 1960s to define for himself an aesthetic that embraces the wealth of his heritage in what came to be called "Chicanismo"--an aesthetic that includes the long reach of history from Mesoamerican culture to lowriders. A founding member of the muralist group, Los Four--and their chief theoretician--he has achieved wide recognition and his work has been widely exhibited.

And yet... Magu still feels like a man crying in the wilderness, when it comes to his message being widely heard and heeded. He had a hearty laugh when I suggested, tentatively, that there is something quixotic in his determination to validate his own heritage against the powerful cultural mainstream. The notion of "tilting at windmills" clearly had a resonance for him.

It's important that we have a few Quixotes in our midst. Indeed, I think there has to be a bit of the Don in each of us, as we "persist." I'll be writing more about Magu in these pages sometime soon. I hope, too, to be able to persuade him to participate in one of our interviews, because he offers the genuine example of one who follows his own vision despite all obstacles in his way, and who has the courage to speak out, again and again, at every opportunity, in its defense. I stand to learn much more from where he stands, and am looking forward to a studio visit early in the fall.

In the meantime, do please take a look at some of these many images online.

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