Aztlán to Magulandia: the Journey of Chicano Artist Gilbert ‘Magu’ Luján
Exhibition dates: October 7 – December 16, 2017
Preview event in September 2017 to be announced
University of California, Irvine (UCI)
Curated by Hal Glicksman and Rhea Anastas
UC Irvine’s University Art Galleries (UAG) will present the first survey of one of the most iconic figures of the Chicano art movement, Gilbert “Magu” Luján (1940–2011) and an accompanying publication. One of the founding members of the Chicano artists collective Los Four, Luján is known for his coloration and visual explorations of Chicano culture and community that drew upon and brought to life various historic and contemporary visual sources with startling results: Pyramid-mounted low riders driven by anthropomorphic dogs traversing a newly defined and mythologized L.A. He was part of a small group of dedicated artists and intellectuals who set about defining a Chicano identity and culture as part of the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. The UAG’s retrospective will focus on creativity and invention in Luján’s work in a myriad of sketches and drawings, paintings, and sculptures. Luján combined two world-making concepts, Aztlán, the mythic northern ancestral home of the indigenous Mexican Aztecs that became a charged symbol of Chicano activism; and Magulandia, the term Luján coined for the space in which he lived and produced his work, and for his work as a whole. Together, Aztlán and Magulandia represented both physical spaces and the complex cultural, geographic, and conceptual relationships that exist between Los Angeles and Mexico and served as dual landscapes for Luján’s artistic philosophy and cultural creativity.
Exhibition research support: $75,000 (2014)
Implementation and publication support: $150,000 (2015)
Born in 1937 in Beverly Hills, California, Hal Glicksman curated a number of key exhibitions in Southern California during the 1960s and 1970s, and helped establish and foster several important Southern California art institutions. He started his career as a preparator at the Pasadena Art Museum under the leadership of Walter Hopps, where he helped formalize professional guidelines for preparators. While at the Pasadena Art Museum, Glicksman worked on the 1963 Marcel Duchamp retrospective. He also designed and installed the United States’ presentation for the eighth Bienal Internacional de São Paulo, Brazil in 1965. Glicksman served as Assistant Curator for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s exhibition, Art and Technology, 1967-1971.
In 1969 Glicksman was appointed Gallery Director and Assistant Professor at Pomona College. While there he produced a seminal Michael Asher exhibition, as well as exhibitions of work by other artists, including Tom Eatherton, Lloyd Hamrol and Ron Cooper. In 1970 Glicksman accepted a position as Associate Director of the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., again under the leadership of Walter Hopps. Glicksman returned to California in 1972 as Director of the Art Gallery at the University of California, Irvine (UCI). Among the significant group exhibitions he curated at UCI, Assemblage in California and Los Four demonstrate Glicksman’s long-term interest in both Chicano art and assemblage art in California. While at UCI Glicksman also exhibited work by Bruce Nauman, Maria Nordman, Larry Bell, Sol Lewitt, Eleanor Antin, Peter Alexander, John Baldessari and Jane Reynolds. In 1975 Glicksman organized the large-scale exhibition Collage and Assemblage at the Los Angeles Institute of Contemporary Art. Also in 1975, Glicksman was appointed Art Gallery Director at Otis Art Institute, where he curated exhibitions focusing on contemporary artists such as Dan Flavin, Richard Tuttle, On Kawara, Hap Tivey, Sam Francis and Wallace Berman. Following his tenure at Otis, Glicksman curated exhibitions for the Santa Monica Arts Commission and Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center.
Additionally, Glicksman made contributions to the design and planning of the new space for the Pasadena Art Museum at Carmelita Park. In 1981 he founded his own gallery, Percept, a short-lived venue for light and space art. The first show at Percept featured the work of Thomas Eatherton. Glicksman also played an important role in the 1985 founding of the Santa Monica Museum of Art, where he served as the museum’s first director and helped establish the museum’s collecting policy and development agenda.
Rhea Anastas is an art historian, critic, curator and an Associate Professor at the Department of Art, University of California, Irvine. She was also one of the founding members of Orchard, an experimental artist-run gallery in the Lower East Side in New York.
Previously Anastas has taught at the Art and Curatorial Practices in the Public Sphere program at the Roski School of Art and Design, University of Southern California, The Center for Curatorial Studies and Art in Contemporary Culture at Bard College, and was a lecturer at the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University.
Anastas received her B.A. and M.A. in Art History from Columbia University in 1990 and 1995 respectively, and her PhD in Art History from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York in 2004. Her dissertation was titled The Whole Artist: Dan Graham and Robert Smithson, Works and Writings, 1965–69.
Dr. Constance Cortez
Constance Cortez received her BA and MA from the University of Texas at Austin and completed her Ph.D. in Art History at UCLA. An Associate Professor of Art History in the School of Art at Texas Tech University, she teaches courses in modern/contemporary art and Critical Theory. Her scholarly activities include curating exhibitions, conference organizing, and writing. Her two most recent volumes are Death and Afterlife in the Early Modern Hispanic World, co-edited with John Beusterien (University of Minnesota Press, 2010) and Carmen Lomas Garza (UCLA and the University of Minnesota Press, 2010), for which she was awarded first place in the category of “Best Arts Book (English)” at the 2011 International Latino Book Awards. She is currently working on a volume on the impact of popular culture in contemporary Chicana/o Art.
Dr. KarenMary Davalos
Karen Mary Davalos received her BA in Drama and Anthropology and MA in Cultural Anthropology from Stanford University and her PhD in Cultural Anthropology from Yale University. She is professor of Chicana/o Studies at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. She has published widely on Chicana/o art, spirituality, and museums. Among her distinctions in the field, she is the only scholar to have written two books on Chicana/o museums, Exhibiting Mestizaje: Mexican (American) Museums in the Diaspora (University of New Mexico Press, 2001) and The Mexican Museum of San Francisco Papers, 1971-2006 (The Chicano Archives, vol. 3, UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center Press, 2010, the Second Place winner of the International Latino Book Award for Best Reference Book in English).
Her research and teaching interests in Chicana feminist scholarship, spirituality, art, exhibition practices, and oral history is reflected in her book, Yolanda M. López, (UCLA CSRC Press with distribution by University of Minnesota Press, 2008), the recipient of two book awards: 2010 Honorable Mention from the National Association of Chicana and Chicano Studies and 2009 Honorable Mention from International Latino Book Awards (Nonfiction, Arts–Books in English). As lead coeditor of Chicana/Latina Studies: The Journal of Mujeres Activas en Letras y Cambio Social (2003-2009), she revitalized the journal from its earlier incarnation of Voces into the only interdisciplinary, flagship, peer-review journal of a Latina/o professional organization.
She serves on the board of directors of Self Help Graphics and Art, the oldest Chicana/o – Latina/o arts organization in the Southern California. Her latest book, Chicana/o Art since the Sixties: From Errata to Remix, is due in Winter 2015. It is informed by life history interviews with eighteen artists, a decade of ethnographic research in southern California, and archival research examining fifty years of Chicana/o art in Los Angeles since 1963. She was an executive member of the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center’s advisory committee, LA Xicano, an initiative of the Getty Foundation Pacific Standard Time, which produced an unprecedented view of Chicana/o art with six exhibitions in one season. Her research contributed to three of these exhibitions. In 2012 she received the President’s Award for Art and Activism from the Women’s Caucus for Art.
Dr. Susana Smith-Bautista
Susana Bautista is a scholar on museums and technology, and an art historian. She researches the changing role of museums in the digital age, the distributed museum experience, and most recently institutional digital literacy. Susana has published numerous articles and book chapters on these topics, and her 2013 book published by Alta Mira press is titled Museums in the Digital Age: Changing Meanings of Place, Community, and Culture. She received her Ph.D. in Communication as a Provost Fellow from the University of Southern California (USC), and her Masters degree in Art History/ Museum Studies, graduating Phi Kappa Phi also from USC. Susana has presented her work at numerous international conferences, she was a HASTAC Scholar, and taught in Communications at the University of Southern California and in Arts Management at Claremont Graduate University.
Susana has over twenty five years’ experience working in the arts in Greece, New York and Los Angeles as an art critic, independent curator, Executive Director of the Mexican Cultural Institute of Los Angeles, Editorial Director of LatinArt.com, and Arts and Culture Commissioner for the city of Pasadena. Her expertise as an art historian focuses on modern and contemporary Chicano, Latino and Latin American art, she served on the Board of Directors of the Latino Museum in Los Angeles, and was an associate for the Daniel Saxon Gallery.
Susana is currently the director of public engagement at USC Pacific Asia Museum in Pasadena, and served as the museum’s interim deputy director as it transitioned to become part of USC in December 2013. She is a Fellow with the national audience research consulting firm Slover Linett, a peer reviewer in the AAM’s Museum Assessment Program, and serves on the Strategic Foresight Committee of the California Association of Museums.
Virginia Arce is an artist, curator, scholar and arts educator based in Los Angeles. She earned her BFA from Otis College of Art and Design and is currently an MFA candidate at the University of California Irvine, with a concentration in Critical and Curatorial Studies. Her research is largely centered on performative and interdisciplinary practices that employ modalities of disidentification and engage their publics through a combination of formal and informal platforms.