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In this text, Jesse Gonzales presents an overview of Latino art in Michigan, from the nineteenth-century to the time when he published this essay, touching upon key moments from the 1920s to the 1990s. Gonzales features early fiestas patrias [patriotic holidays] in Detroit, Rivera’s mural at the Detroit Institute of Art, Carlos Lopez’s activities at the University of Michigan, the influence of the United Farm Workers and Cesar Chavez in the 1960s, and the contemporary mural movement. Gonzales highlights the inroads made by several artists in creating spaces for inclusion in the arts such as Nora Chapa Mendoza, who was selected Michigan Artist of the Year in 1991. Gonzales also addresses the diversity of Latino art by discussing how Chicano, Latino, and Hispanic art has overlapped and overtly oppose.


Lansing, Michigan-based critic and activist Jesse Gonzales has been instrumental in promoting Latino art in Michigan as a member of Nuestras Artes [Our Arts], an umbrella organization formed by arts and activist organizations in Michigan to promote Latino art and culture, including Arte Nuevocano of Grand Rapids, the Raza Art and Media Collective of Ann Arbor, and the Chicano Art and Literary Collective of Lansing. In this text, Gonzales cites George Vargas’ Ph.D. dissertation, “Contemporary Latino Art in Michigan, the Midwest and the Southwest,” as a source on Latino artists in Michigan from the 1890s to the 1950s, and points to the Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum in Chicago as a model for Latino arts organizations in Michigan.

Olga Herrera; Harper Montgomery, collaborator
Institute for Latino Studies, University of Notre Dame, South Bend, USA
Courtesy of the Private Collection of Juana M. and Jesse Gonzales, Lansing, MI