Documents of 20th-century Latin American and Latino Art

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  • ICAA Record ID
    1083358
    TITLE
    Dear Mr. Wilson / Charles David Almaraz
    DESCRIPTION
    p. 403-406
    LANGUAGES
    English
    TYPE AND GENRE
    Other – Letters
    BIBLIOGRAPHIC CITATION
    Almaraz, Carlos. "Dear Mr. Wilson." Unpublished manuscript journal, 403-406. New York, 1973.


Editorial Categories [?]
Synopsis

This document is a handwritten letter from the journal of Carlos Almaraz to William Wilson, a staff writer at the Los Angeles Times. He was responding to an exhibition review by Wilson, titled “30 Works from the Grass Roots.” In it, the author argues against the stance Wilson advocated of “art for art’s sake”, which he deems irrelevant since Chicano art deals with what Almaraz calls “art for man’s sake.” While Wilson can see art as being a matter of aesthetic concerns, for Almaraz it cannot be truly removed from its social context. He further argues that in the postmodern era, the object cannot be experienced passively. For him, what Wilson views as a “grass roots” movement that “blossomed,” is a class struggle that signals a sociopolitical revolution. He concludes with a denouncement of the subservient and exploitive nature of the mainstream art scene.

Annotations

Even though Carlos Almaraz (1941–1989) was never a widely published author, he was a dedicated journal writer. This “Record Book” journal entry was a draft of a letter to Los Angeles Times staff writer, William Wilson, in response to his June 4, 1973 review of a group exhibition of artists from the Mechicano Art Center held at the Junior Arts Center in Barnsdall Park, Los Angeles. Though Wilson had favorable comments regarding his artwork, Almaraz contested the Western European definitions of art and aesthetics used by Wilson, deemed inappropriate (and irrelevant) for the review of artists of color. Almaraz was one of the founding members of Los Four, an artist collective that also included Beto de la Rocha, Judithe Hernandez, Frank Romero, and Gilbert Lujan (Magu). They were one of the most influential Chicano art groups and the first to have an exhibition at a major museum—at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, in 1974. In the 1980s, Almaraz was able to attain mainstream recognition and gallery success, which continued even beyond his death.

Researcher
Romo
Team
Chicano Studies Research Center, UCLA, Los Angeles, USA
Credit
© The Carlos Almaraz Estate, 2012