Wednesday, May 30, 2007

An Artist Remembered Victor Wiley, 1969-2007

Victor Wiley was one of the first artists I met when I arrived in Little Rock, he sparkled.

When we met, Victor and I were performing at the same benefit for a local womens organization. I was doing some spoken word from Vagina Monologues to plug our upcoming show. For once I arrived early so I asked him if I could help set up. He smiled and said sure, give me a hand with this.

He had created custom artwork on a sheet for the backdrop. We managed to get it up under the outdoor space we were to perform under. It was a cold winter evening with some on and off again drizzle and someone had set up a fire pit but it was just far enough away that we could see the heat but not feel it. We didn't mind we were artist about to enjoy the process and invite others to play.

He got his recording set up which was a unique blend of singing and music. A small crowd gathered under the cover and another crowd near the fire. Once he began he turned on a projector that cast an image on the backdrop. Then he positioned himself so that visually he was layered betweent the image projected and the image behind him.

As the music started he began to paint on himself and added paint to the background to emphasize the sounds and meanings of words and rhythms. He painted on his face, his clothes, the background, and his arms. He moved in front of the canvas so that the images all seemed to dance with him.

The crowd was mesmerized. We we all so drawn in, that at the end of the performance you felt as if you were part of the creation. We had all just shared an intimate experience.

We crossed paths several times after that night, they say that in Arkansas those with progressive and or liberal thoughts are part of a small network and you can't help but build solidarity and thats what we did.

We collaborated on posters for a peace rally, a parade for LGBT rights and he shared his thoughts and ideas as a member of the board for an arts and activism organization I co founded. He pushed the limits about art, music, and thinking of others.

The last time I remember talking with Victor was at one of his gallery shows. He greeted me with the usual smile and warm hug and then began telling me all about his latest ideas and creations.

We will carry on the work and make fierce art while we do it!
Victor you will be missed.

Localist Magazine, Little Rock 2007
Victor Wiley was a post-modern renaissance man, drawing his inspiration from Egyptology, as well as entomology, from the Greeks as well as the freaks. He lived by the real code of do-it-yourself ethics, always ate a vegan diet, and rode his clankity bike rather than own a car. He spent everyday of his life creating, giving, and inspiring everyone he met. He was a true romantic that delivered his art with a chaotic style that assaulted us with the beauty of creation, only to have us surrender to its destruction.He spent over 15 years feeding the homeless every Sunday with Food Not Bombs a program he was instrumental in beginning here, he played in over 20 different bands and musical projects, he was the co-founder of Das Yutes A-GO-GO, and hosted hundreds of shows at his house on Park Street. A great lyricist, he wrote songs for most of his bands. He also wrote zines, comics, and jokes. Every Tuesday night for several years, he hung wall size pieces of art behind the bands at the Whitewater Tavern. At the end of the night he would take it all down only to return next week with new stuff.He is probably one of the greatest rock-n-roll front men the South has ever seen, like the love child of Iggy Pop and David Bowie. Victor’s performances were balls out and in your face, yet stylistic and artsy, cocky and sensitive. He had a great sense of humor, loved animals, lollipops, and every year he dressed as a bug for Halloween. He gave his entire life to his art and his community and never concerned himself with monetary reward.In his last act of giving, Victor donated his organs and his kidney was a perfect match for a stranger in need.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

memories and food

love you Jennie here's a Bubu Lubu for you

I am back once again from a trip to Tejas, its always a breath of fresh air to visit. The sites, sounds, smells of home and loved ones always makes way for inspiration. Something as simple as a candy wrapper took me back to a time with my special Chicana sister sharing silly moments and afternoons of laughter. These moments helped us get through another day. When we could forget about all the issues and challenges we faced as Chicanas in a corporate work world and would escape on our lunch time to reconnect with the unspoken ties that bind us as sisters. When with no one listening we could talk TexMex, turn up the music, share some laughs and a favorite candy bar.
I had to have one and I knew if I could find it it would be at Fiesta a very special kind of cross cultural grocery store. When you enter its like you step into a world market where national flags hang proudly over the aisles to identify specific foods you can only get from the Motherland, which ever one that might be for you and your ancestors.
Once again this multi-colored lively store didn't fail me. I found it; and after some must have additions to the basket of "things I miss" I made my way to the checkout. It was then that I was able to make new memories with my beloved about my passion for chocolate, marshmallow, and a special kind of jelly all wrapped in a shiny blue paper.

I am thinking of making an art quilt depicting not often shared cultural memories connected to food. Its a form of communication in and of itself and you cant have one with out the other. Different occasions call for must have foods; with the merging of different cultures, and generations there are changes. Like tamales for Christmas is a must but now you can have them anytime, I still struggle with this one. Barbacoa isn't just for Sunday mornings anymore and it might come with a side of Cheetos, and what about pan dulce they even sell it in the convenient stores in Tejas not just the bakery.
Well its things like this that my Chicana brothers and sisters will identify with; its our changing acculturation. I didn't say assimilation because some of us don't want to or cant let go of the traditions. Its the tossed salad vs. the melting pot idea. Its the American way right, merging into something new and we get to decide what that looks like. I believe we all have a culture its just a matter of reconnecting with the past one and identifying with the new one you live each day.
Being Chicana means we choose to blend our worlds to create a new one filled with traditions from our ancestors stirred up with ideas from our children. I think it might be fun to interview family and friends and see what art I can "cook up".

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Remembering Gloria Anzaldua

This artquilt is my tribue to Gloria and was the beginning of a new voyage for me in my professional and personal life...Gracias Gloria
From the collection of Cynthia Perez , La Pena Gallery Austin

Gloria Anzaldua

Sept 26, 1942 - May 15, 2004

Friend, Chicana lesbiana, feminist, writer, poet, scholar, activist

Its been 3 years since this world lost Gloria Anzaldua and those of us left behind are doing our part to keep the work moving forward. She was a fierce role model to many and to some a beautiful friend in a world where there are few of either. We remember you, honor you, celebrate you and continue to build bridges where there are none.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


During this time of discussions on immigration this image repeats in my mind. I create from spirit discussions; wordless conversations with elders, guides, ancestors, and my higher self, all operating from indigenous time. This image and has called me to create a series.

My work as a cross cultural workshop leader brings me into real time conversations with individuals that have lost, had stolen, or have forgotten that we all have a rich history and culture, each with our own stories to tell. It is in these stories that we find our humanness, our connection to the Source/God/Goddess and to one another. It is the place where we can truly see one another and embrace our love for the greater good. My artwork facilitates stories and pushes thoughts, not always providing answers but posing more questions.

The family image is from a yellow caution street sign used in several states. I choose to use the image not as a caution sign but as a symbol of family, hope, and solidarity of a people. This work is currently in a private collection and is the first in a series.