Thursday, July 6, 2017

Edwin Ushiro's "A Survey"

This Saturday, July 8th, make sure to come out for Edwin Ushiro's show at Giant Robot. Inspired by the melding of the Hawaiian and Japanese ghost stories of his youth, Edwin's exquisitely rendered visions invariably evoke the uneffable or the uncanny.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Chaz Bojórquez Book Signing

This Sunday, January 29th, you can get your Chaz Bojórquez monograph from Zero+ Publishing signed by the man himself at Hennessy + Ingalls! If you're in the mood for a good read, it contains an in-depth interview between the two of us.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

First They Came for the Mexicans...

This weekend, while many of the more thoughtful people in the world were gathering in their millions to demonstrate their commitment to the principles of equality and freedom, I was planting seeds in my garden in the hope that they would germinate into manifestations of hope that would sustain me through the confusion of the next few months.

Bill Bramhall - Cartoon in response to Trump's announcement that he would deny entrance to Muslim immigrants - New York Daily News, December 7, 2015

As I worked the soil, I was pondering something Franklin Delano Roosevelt said in 1938 to the Daughters of the American Revolution, a nativist group of women who trace their ancestry to the founding fathers. Today it seems particularly apropos: "Remember, remember always, that all of us, and you and I especially, are descended from immigrants and revolutionists."

Thomas Nast - "The Chinese Question" - Harper's Weekly, 1871

If I investigate my family tree, I guess I have as much right to be a belligerent nativist as any white American. I have at least one direct ancestor (Francis Cooke) who arrived with the Pilgrims on the famously cramped and miserable voyage of the Mayflower in 1620, not to mention John Winthrop, who became Governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1629, and Pieter Claesen Wyckoff, a 12-year-old indentured laborer who arrived in 1637 and later became one of the founders of Brooklyn (his house still stands on Clarendon Road in Flatbush, the oldest surviving structure in New York City).

Fred Packer - Cartoon about the turning away of 900 Jewish refugees on the SS St. Louis - New York Daily News, 1939

Over the years, these early birds in my genealogy were joined by a slew of unpopular German and English Protestants (who intermarried occasionally with French or Polish heretics of one stripe or another) looking for a place where they could be free, prosper and procreate. Finally, the Irish Catholics and Swedish Lutherans showed up to the party, fleeing famine and oppression on a perilous journey to our shores in the late 1800s.

Thomas Nast - "Every Dog (No Distinction of Color) Has His Day" - Harper's Weekly, 1879
The truth is that unless we can identify as Native Americans, whose ancestors crossed the Bering Land Bridge and adapted to the demands of this continent 20,000 years before the Europeans arrived to virtually exterminate them, we are all immigrants. Who are we to judge the imperiled migrants who arrive on our shores, regardless of their religion or circumstances? Our ancestors were just like them, considered dirty, ignorant, heretical and dangerous by the people who happened to arrive here before them. Many of them were debtors or criminals, and a vast number of them were forced to come here against their will. Nearly every wave of new immigrants was greeted with fear and derision, as evidenced by these political cartoons.

Thomas Nast - "The Chinese Question" (detail) - Harper's Weekly, 1882
Even our newly installed Dear Leader is the son of an impoverished foreign worker named Mary Ann Macleod, who arrived here from Scotland in 1930 with $50 in her pocket, hoping to find work as a servant, and the grandson of Friedrich Trump, who came from Germany to seek his fortune in 1885 at the age of 16—though he pretended to be Swedish throughout his life to avoid negative stereotypes about Germans that might impact his business. Young Trump found work in Manhattan as a barber before venturing west to seek his fortune during the Gold Rush, cleverly choosing to separate prospectors from their gold in various mercantile enterprises, including a few brothels. Seems like the apple doesn't fall far from the tree! One might also say that the tree's roots are only a few inches deep.

George Keller - "The Chinese Must Go, But Who Keeps Them?" - The Wasp, 1878
So united we must stand, because that is literally the bedrock of our society. We are a nation of hardscrabble, down-on-their-luck immigrants, built on the tenet that every human being has the right to strive for success, regardless of their background or beliefs. That's all anyone coming to our shores is asking for—a fair chance to make their way in the world on their own terms. Our nation must continue to be a beacon of hope to the world, a "shining city on a hill," to quote Very-Great Granddad John Winthrop (via President Reagan, using the phrase in his farewell address), who wrote those words aboard the Arbella en route to the New World, envisioning the society he would build there. As a nation, we have often fallen short of that mark, but it remains the aspiration and foundation of this great American experiment.

Thomas Nast - "Which Color Is To Be Tabooed Next?" - Harper's Weekly, 1882

So never forget that your ancestors were a bunch of badass, devil-may-care, stick-it-to-the-man rabble-rousers, dissenters and revolutionaries who were prepared to lay everything they had on the line for a chance at liberty and opportunity. The least we can do is stand as a bulwark against the erosion of the principles that made that freedom possible. 

"First they came for the Socialists, 
and I did not speak out— 
Because I was not a Socialist. 
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, 
and I did not speak out— 
Because I was not a Trade Unionist. 
Then they came for the Jews, 
and I did not speak out— 
Because I was not a Jew. 
Then they came for me—
and there was no one left to speak for me."
-- Martin Niemöller

Thomas Nast - "The Union as it Was" - Harper's Weekly, 1874

Friday, September 9, 2016

Edwin Ushiro's "We Were Here Before, Not Now, But Somehow We Will Return Again”

Thought you guys would appreciate Edwin Ushiro's latest creation—a ghostly greyhound, delicately drawn in layered pen and ink on wood panel, currently showing at Thinkspace's LAX/ORD show at Vertical Gallery in Chicago.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Andrew Hem at the Long Beach Museum of Art

This Friday, July 15th, don't miss the opening of Vitality & Verve: In the Third Dimension at the Long Beach Museum of Art, in collaboration with Thinkspace and Pow! Wow! Among the many murals you'll be able to experience is this extraordinary installation by Andrew Hem – perhaps the first mural of an interior scene he's ever painted.

If you can't make it on Friday, the exhibition will run through October 16th. And if you head down there before it gets too late, make sure to check out the dozens of other murals that have recently been added to the walls of the city itself through Pow! Wow! Long Beach, including a new collaboration between Andrew Hem, Edwin Ushiro and Yoskay Yamamoto!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Edwin Ushiro's "Capturing What Still Glimmers"

This Saturday, June 18th, be sure to make time in your plans to catch the sometimes sun-kissed, sometimes eerie, but always haunting works of Edwin Ushiro at the opening of his show "Capturing What Still Glimmers" at Giant Robot!