By F. Lennox Campello
You’ll have to excuse me if for the first half of this month I wander away from the DMV for some commentary.
It’s nowhere near the DMV, but the idiocy of the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center all the way in Texas reaches all the way to the nation’s capital region.
You see, San Antonio’s Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center (GCAC) has announced that it has withdrawn as the host for something that Texans do down there called the San Antonio’s CAM (Contemporary Art Month) 2016 Perennial.
Here is the statement released by GCAC Executive Director Jerry Ruiz:
The Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center will be withdrawing as the host for the CAM 2016 Perennial. While the GCAC recognizes the talents and merits of the artists in this year’s Perennial, we have determined that CAM is simply not a mission-fit at this juncture. The Guadalupe remains firmly committed to the values of inclusion and access to the arts. The lack of diversity in this year’s group of artists, specifically the lack of representation of Latina artists in this year’s edition of the perennial, has forced the organization to make this difficult decision after much deliberation and dialogue with CAM’s leaders.
Are you serious? You’re removing yourself as the host from an art show because of the “lack of representation of Latina artists”? Was the juror or curator (this year’s curator is Laurie Britton Newell from Colorado, not Texas) directed ahead of time that she must include Latina artists in the exhibition? If so, how was the curator to identify and segregate the Latina artists? Was there a check box in the entry form to ID the entry as coming from a Latina? Or was the curator allowed to see the names of the artists so that he/she could give extra merit to anyone whose last name ended in a vowel or a “z” (at the risk of missing the millions of Latinas all over Latin America and the US with non-Hispanic last names); Or given a list of Latina artists? Any direction at all?
This year’s selected artists are Jennifer Ling Datchuk, Marlys Dietrick, Emily Fleisher, Jasmyne Graybill, Jessica Halonen and Leigh Anne Lester… all women. Should someone be upset because there are no males included? Or is this always an all-female show (thus somewhat destroying the concept of diversity and inclusion from the very beginning)?
By the way, at least one of the artists (Jennifer Ling Datchuk) is Asian; one appears to be Jewish (based on the dangerous practice of trying to identify people by last name; this is also a mine field for “Latino” names), and I don’t know or care what Jasmyne Graybill’s ancestral DNA background is, but her work is spectacular!
There is no issue with this show, because a curator (hopefully) always should select artwork for an open show based on the art itself, not the racial, gender, or as in this case, ethnic background of the artist. Unless the curator is told ahead of time: “You have to have some Latinas in this show and this is how you identify them” then this all stinks of idiocy.
And a Latino, all I have to say to the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center is: “You are all a bunch of comemierdas.”
Back to the DMV: By the time that you read this column, there will be a show at Glen Echo’s Popcorn Gallery (1st floor, Arcade Building, 7300 MacArthur Blvd. Glen Echo, MD 20812) titled “Fields of Inquiry” that promises to be a memorable one.
I am told that in early December 2015 area artists Mei Mei Chang, Pat Goslee and Kathryn McDonnell began working on two large donated canvases.
“They moved the large canvases into Kathryn’s studio and used paint that was also donated they began collaborating. They had to contend with busy work schedules, the holidays, travels, snowstorms, ice storms, blizzards and the pressure of a deadline, as well as unique artistic sensibilities. Will they be able to complete the paintings in time? And which one will they choose for the exhibition Fields of Inquiry? The gallery space at the Popcorn gallery is limited and will hold just one of the paintings. So they must choose.”
Set aside some time to visit beautiful and historical Glen Echo Park and see this unique collaboration.