The Poverty of Chicano Artists

If the artist is not the most hated member of the Chicano/a community it is certain that a very healthy disgust towards the artist is felt by many in the barrio. In the artists attempt to express themselves, speak for La Raza, or to raise their consciousness, s/he comes short of the mark. The inherent poverty of the art scene is its inability to understand and change society, its refusal to see itself as a market place for one more commodity. This is what we detest. From cholos to viejitas, to mocosos and their relatives, everyone hates the false notion of the artist as a representative of our needs or as a spokesperson for change.

All the novelty rappers, uninspired singers, hack writers, crayola painters, pretentious poets, and the hardly-funny cartoonists and comedians that make up the Chicano And Chicana Artist (CACA) cultural scene imagine themselves to be that which they are not: for some reason they believe that they are a challenge or an opposition to the dominant culture. The truth is that they are merely another aspect of the same society or as some would accurately call it, they are part of the spectacle of negation. When a person’s life lacks in meaning, pleasure, and they have no control over how to run their own lives, they look outside of themselves for salvation. The artist finds his calling in "self—expression", creating art pieces in which she can live out a dull reflection of what has not been possible in real life. That’s not beautiful; it’s pathetic.

In a world that runs on a heavy dose of alienation the reverence for art serves only to strengthen that society. The emergence of the Chicano Art scene is a movement of the forgotten commodity back into the flow of the marketplace; the desire to belong within the world of separation; to be bought and sold like everyone else. The artist has no vision. She fails to see what is truly beautiful, just as they failed to see the poetry in the streets during the rioting in ‘92. Can their little doodles ever top the critique of daily life that the looters offered in their festive events? Of course not.

So what happens to La Raza once the artist sells his piece, gets her grant, or has that special gallery showing? Nothing. All the people that you aim to represent on your canvas or in your poems, we still have to exist in the same ghettoes, we still have to work in the same stupid jobs, or wait in the same welfare lines. We will never see you there. You will never mean anything to us.

We laugh at you and the society you reinforce. Give it up. You’re headed nowhere.

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