Monday, October 20, 2008


"Cholo" is a sample of a successful Cholo & Zoot-Suiter series of works my wife Graciela and I created during the mid-80's.
They were inspired by teaching classes at the California Youth Authority. Some of my students looked like this and of course, from the vatos I grew up with or saw on the "calles" (streets). We had numerous shows throughout central Califas and the Bay Area and overall they were enthusiastically received, but not without criticism "aren't your pieces glorifying a negative lifestyle?" "These are gangsters." "You're making La Raza look bad." Yet, we never ceased to been amazed by the positive reactions to them. We had struck in inner nerve with the gente and they responded.
I would mentally study the vatos in my classes at CYA, and their poses, dress and tatoos. I would also scour Low Rider Magazines for ideas. Like most of my work, they were hand painted with acrylics after firing. Over the years we sold many pieces. Each took hours of work to build and paint, and my wife and I worked together. She is vastly more patient than I am and though she has absolutely no training in art, she became my apprentice and added her womans "touch" to each piece. The greatest compliment for me was to see people pore over each piece, especially audiences like young kids who had probably never been exposed to art, and enjoy them. "Hey, check this one out, this looks like my Tio Chuy!" We have few pieces left now, just a handful, broken (glued together) or rejects. Friends often ask: "When are you going to make more?" Probably never.
It was a good period in our lives and I seem to have lost the patience I once had. But on the other hand, maybe I will make more. Quien sabe? For now, writing is taking its place.

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