Announcement for ASCO and Los Four exhibition
Type of Work
"Announcement for ASCO and Los Four exhibition at Point Gallery in Santa Monica, California, 1975. Offset lithograph. The Getty Research Institute, Gift of George Herms, 2009.M.20.4. Courtesy of ASCO and Los Four" "In 1975, two art collectives of radically different temperaments—ASCO and Los Four—held an exhibition together at the Point Gallery in Santa Monica. The exhibition was generally acknowledged as a turning point in the Chicano movement." —https://blogs.getty.edu/pacificstandardtime/explore-the-era/archives/i83/
Each group was responsible for generating and circulating their own publicity; as a result, there were at least two different promotional announcements for the exhibition.87 The one that circulated more widely and can be found in numerous archives and collections is a printed postcard with twelve different images arranged into a grid on one side. Each participating artist is represented by an image, text, or some combination of both within a small rectangle. These announcements were offset lithographs printed with an overlay of colors, including red, yellow, orange, and green to suggest that the cards had been spray painted, and were cut in a way to create a variability in color patterns on each card. The postcard carries forward the visual aesthetic of the striking accordion-fold catalogue designed by Frank Romero for the Los Four exhibition at UC Irvine.
The invitation design suggests a discrete delineation between the artists’ groups: the Asco artists all appear in a single column, while the Los Four artists are clustered in the two other columns. The images used to represent the groups also differ. Six of the eight Los Four artists submitted drawings of human figures for the announcement. While several of these drawings include the artist’s signature, the space allotted for each artist is so small that the signatures are rendered nearly illegible. In contrast, three of the Asco artists, Gamboa, Herrón, and Valdez included graphic renderings of their names; in essence, they submitted their signatures.88 While Herrón and Gamboa employ typography, Valdez engages barrio calligraphy and placas. These forms are in fact intricately related, as the specific written aesthetic of placas was based on and influenced by typography associated with newspaper headlines and titles as well as honorific items like diplomas and certificates.89
Valdez’s contribution is a remarkable placa or plaqueaso that shares stylistic similarities with the drawings and collages she produced for Regeneracíon and the now nonextant aerosol works on canvas she experimented with and exhibited during this time. Valdez’s first name is rendered as a stylized placa using a diamond shape to dot the “I” at the end; the letter is rendered in such a way that it resembles a candle stick, with the diamond shape forming a flame above. Two lipstick marks flank the placa. Produced with marker, it effectively channels the tradition of barrio calligraphy, which aims to bestow an “aura of prestige around their street names to represent them with maximum dignity and pride.”90 Valdez’s piece was made in collaboration with a young graffiti artist, known as Joker, who Valdez was teaching at the time as part of a program to provide art lessons to “at-risk” youth including those involved in gangs. The student produced the lettering and Valdez provided the lipstick prints, and then submitted the doubly- or triply-signed work for the exhibition announcement card.91 Valdez’s contribution importantly appropriates and retools what was a predominantly masculinist form—especially at this time—to represent her participation in the exhibition. A variation on a popular clique name “El Loca,” or “the crazy-one,” appears above Valdez’s placa, asserted in an “incorrect” way that transgresses the strictly gendered and codified rules of the Spanish language as well as the barrio traditions of clique naming. (Loca is gendered as female and the article El is plainly masculine.) Curiously, the way the nickname is written is as a single conjoined word, “eLoca” but with the “eL” hovering below the “oca,” and the “L” extending to join the two registers and connecting to Valdez’s name as well. Joker, the clique name of the student who inscribed the letters, appears below Patssi, with the name of Valdez’s artists’ group, ASCO, anchoring the roll call below.