Photos by Melissa Quesada & Joe Contreras, Latin Life Denver Media & Victoria Paige Gonzalez, Marketing & PR Coordinator for Museo de las Americas (see 3 photo galleries below)
The place was packed last night. It was wall to wall people for the opening night reception of Pachucos y Sirenas (mermaids) at the Museo de las Americas art Museum in Denver. “It’s probably one of the largest crowds we have had here at the Museo in our 25 year history,” said Maruca Salazar curator for the Pachucos y Sirenas exhibit.
Museo de las americas offers a perspective on new school and old school artists and its impact on the american experience through the pachuco legacy. The museos exhibition allows the community to feel proud and see a historic movement and see from artist that this is their identity and who they are.
Last night at the opening of pachucos y sirenas those in attendance got to see amazing sculptures from artist Jerry Vigil who is a Colorado Native. Vigil said “as I carry their stories with me by recreating powerful figures carved out of wood and paint, I learn the pride, power, and resolution that pachucos had and continue to have.
The pachuco spirit lives on in the people and the stories of the Chicano community.” The exhibition had so much history to share behind its culture and inspiration of what paved the way.
Artist like Josiah Lopez display his illustrations of traditional and current, while Justin Favela’s work focuses on highlighting his culture and experience. Carlos Fresquez said it best as he stated that pachucos are a part of Denvers History!
The exhibition will run from February 8 – May 26 and there will be shows and activities all throughout the months displaying an insight to the pachuco era.
Pachucos y Sirenas exhibition features artists such as Justin Favela, Antonia Fernandez, Carlos Fresquez, Josiah Lopez, Jerry Vigil, and Daniel Salazar will highlight the impact that the 1940’s Pachuco legacy had on the American experience. Exhibition programming will include contributing fashion designers Cha Cha Romero and Alejandra Peralta, Suavecito Car Club, and artist Alfredo Cardenas. The exhibition run through May 26, 2018. On February 9th from 6-8 pm an artist talk will be featured at the Museo 861 Santa Fe Drive in Denver, Colorado.
Museo de las Americas continues to be the premier Latino Museum of the rocky mountain region by delivering an insight into the Pachuco era of the late 1930s and 40s, where the young Mexican-American youth cultivated a highly stylized language, culture, and fashion as a way of expressing cultural pride during a time where the very essence of being Latino was un-American. The exhibition will feature the Caló language—now influentially woven in the way we speak Spanish today, the zoot suit that not only is a symbol of masculinity and rebellion but cultural pride, along with the boundaries that the Latina crossed to reclaim her sexuality and individuality. The exhibition looks at the role that fashion plays in cultivating street identities in where it creates a comradery among individuals who have the freedom to invent a lifestyle all their own.
Paintings fashioned by emerging Denver-based artist Antonia Fernandez embrace the body-modifying Latina—the pachuca, who re-defined what it meant to defy conventional beauty standards of the “domesticated woman”of the 1940s.
Jerry Vigil, a well-established artist of Denver, Colorado, uses a mixture of traditional and nontraditional materials to carry on the stories of the Latino Community. He famously takes the Calavera and intertwines the aesthetic with pop culture idols of Latino descent. By using the skeleton—a strong symbolic feature of the Mexican Identity—it speaks on the dual identity of the Mexican American.
Justin Favela, a Las Vegas-based artist, will produce a full-size lowrider piñata. In recent years, Favela has gained spotlight for his encapsulating installations, using accessible materials such as cardboard, paper, and glue to create fantasy-like renditions of familiar objects of Latinidad that would be able to communicate across cultural boundaries. His art recently was exhibited at the Denver Art Museum during Mi Tierra with his large-scale installation of Fridalandia.
Daniel Salazar, an art veteran of Denver Colorado, illuminates the Pachuco legacy with his portraits of the National Chicano Dance Theater. The photographs can be seen with men and women fashioned like a traditional Pachuco and Sirena laying at the feet of Denver’s skyline. The dance company was premiering Quatro Epocas (1979), a historical performance at the Bonfils theater directed by Enrique Montoya. The photograph and play serve as a reminder that Latinos have always struggled to define themselves among the shackles of the government.
Carlos Fresquez, recalls the Pachuco mentality in his revision of the 1940’s pachuco. What is fascinating, in his most famous work Pink Pachuco, is he takes the already infamous zoot suit and subverts it by spray-painting it pink. This unleashes a dialogue that begins to dismantle the essence of machismo embedded deeply in the Mexican- American psyche.
Josiah Lopez, a graffiti muralist and long-time resident of the La Alma Lincoln Park neighborhood, Lopez uses the street as inspiration in much of his work that touches on the complicated narratives of urban identities.
Photos by Victoria Paige Gonzalez, Marketing & PR Coordinator for Museo de las Americas
Photos by Melissa Quesada, Latin Life Denver Media
Photos by Joe Contreras, Latin Life Denver Media