Only now do I have the opportunity to sit down and write about my past weekend in Los Angeles, when I went with my good friend, Jesus Barraza, to receive our award from the Center for the Study of Political Graphics. On October 1st, Jesus and I were honored with the "Art is A Hammer Award", a prestigious award that in the past has been given to artists such as Malaquias Montoya and Barbara Carrasco. We were honored with this award for our success with the Taller Tupac Amaru. Since the inception of the Taller in 2003, Jesus and I have printed over 56 political posters.
Jesus and I arrived to LA on Thursday evening (Sep 30). On Friday, we went to go visit our good friend Joe Alpuche (pictured to the left), master printer at Self Help Graphics. Joe is not only one of Los Angeles best master silkscreen printers, he is also an individual who has pushed me consistently to produce my artistic best. I met Joe when I was 17 years old, after I was invited by Self Help Graphics to produce a silkscreen print as part of a women's atelier. I was the youngest in the group and this would be my first time producing a fine art silkscreen print. The image which I developed was a woman with her legs open...and in the area where her vagina is, there was a large eye. This print I entitled, El Ojo De Dios (The Eye of God). I showed up the first day to print, a bit unprepared. I had not completed my tasks and I was running behind. I was intimated by Joe who huffed and puffed...he was giving me a hard time because I was unprepared. Throughout the entire process, he pushed me to be exact, to be a perfectionist with my process. He was patient with me, but firm. Never would I have imagined at that young age that I would be invited to Self Help Graphics four more times to do a silkscreen print. In many ways, Joe is one of my mentors. For those of you unfamiliar with how the silkscreen process works, here is a quick lesson. I produce what are called separations, each separation is developed on a piece of film, either acetate or rubylith. 1 color = 1 separation. That means if I am doing a 9-color print, I have to come up with 9 separations. Each separation is shot onto a silk mesh screen and set to dry. Ink is put on the screen and the ink is applied to a piece of paper with a squeegee. Each color must be set to dry before another color can be printed on it. In my case, there are usually two involved. Joe is the master printer. He prints each color while I work on the artistic composition. A master printer is just that, a master at his craft. To have had to opportunity to work with Joe on five different occassion is indeed a blessing. Did I mention that Joe once printed for Salvador Dali?
Fast forward to Sat Oct 1st. The award ceremony took place at Union Station. The place was packed, although mostly with affluent white lefties. Jesus's family and my family filled up 3 large tables of Latinos and Asians. The event was MCd by Richard Montoya of Culture Clash. Of course we were the target of his jokes throughout the nite, considering that our three tables were pretty much the only people of color at the event. Overall however, the event was a success, and I had a great time.
One of the other awardees was Sandra Levinson, founder of the Center for Cuban Studies, based in New York. Her organization promotes the artwork of Cuban artists. As someone who has been tremendously inpsired by Cuban political poster (see sample to the right), seeing Sandra was a great inspiration. In 1991, Sandra's organization spearheaded a successful lawsuit against the US Treasury Department, which made the importation and sale of original art from Cuba Legal.