Imagine (Boston, Mass.). -- Vol. 3, no. 1-2 (Summer-Winter 1986)
"John Valadez." Imagine (Boston, Mass.) 3, no. 1-2 (Summer-Winter 1986): 186-192.
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In this document, Los Angeles artist John Valadez describes the challenging and complex experience of being a contemporary Chicano artist. He stresses the inherently dual and/or fragmented identity with which all Chicanos must come to terms by virtue of their sociopolitical and cultural status in the United States. Valadez focuses on the unique difficulties faced by Chicano artists attempting to make a living from their production. He mentions his own experience starting out in opposition to the profit-driven world of galleries and collectors as well as the ways in which this influenced his choice in subject matter. Valadez notes the criticism he faced from his Chicano peers and community members upon deciding to enter the art market. In concluding, Valadez underscores the importance of maintaining artistic integrity, remaining focused on the process of art making, and having the ability to make a living as an artist.
John Valadez is a Los Angeles artist and muralist who actively participated in the Chicano art movement in various capacities, including as a member of Asco in the 1980s and the Concilio de Arte Popular’s Centro de Arte Publico. A formidable painter, he participated in many of the traveling exhibitions organized by the major U.S. museums in the 1980s and ‘90s and consequently secured gallery representation. His artist statement was included in a special issue of Imagine: International Chicano Poetry Journal dedicated to Chicano art in 1986. Valadez’s statement contrasts with the one by Sacramento artist, José Montoya—also included in this issue—who argues for Chicano artists to remain true to the inherent goal of utilizing Chicano art to help the entire community—and not just themselves—to succeed economically and politically. Individually and together, their artists’ statements clearly brought to the fore the dilemma that confronted Chicano artists during this period: whether to maintain their art making in service to the community or to pursue acceptance into the mainstream art milieu. Or, put differently, to accept their economic limitations as artist activist or strive to make a living selling their art.