Cinco Puntos Press Art Auction: Chicanx Artists, Fronterizx Roots
Cinco Puntos feels deeply privileged to be offering paintings and prints by renowned Chicanx artists, the late Gloria Osuna Perez and the celebrated bordeño painter and printmaker Francisco Delgado. These were unexpected gifts. This auction of these works of art will supplement our GoFundMe campaign as we navigate the Pandemic Economic Shutdown. You can view the auction, and place bids, here.
One evening as Lee and I sat on our front porch enjoying the spring desert evening with our granddaughter Emma, Francisco Delgado walked up the steps. He was carrying a sheath of five prints, the ones you will see below. He wanted, he said, to give the prints to us as his donation to our GoFundMe Campaign. Lee and I were struck dumb with gratitude and friendship. That same week it happened again―Roberto Perezdiaz, aka Beto, wrote us a letter. Beto is the widower of the late great Chicanx painter Gloria Osuna Perez. He and their artist daughter Lucia Perez also wanted to contribute one of Gloria’s paintings from their dwindling collection. “Come by and pick one,” he said.
My gosh, it’s difficult to express our gratitude and personal joy for their support. We have worked with both Francisco and Gloria in the creation of some of our most widely acclaimed bilingual children’s illustrated books. In addition, Francisco’s painting “$26” was the cover for Puro Border: Dispatches, Snapshots & Graffiti from the US/Mexican Border, our acclaimed anthology about the border featuring fronterizo writers. “$26” also hung in the Cinco Puntos office for almost 20 years, a gift of the noted collector art, Juan Sandoval, and became a favorite of visitors, especially school children who were curious why it was called $26 (or was that what it cost?) As is the case with so much independent press publishing, we became close friends not only with the Gloria and Francisco, but also with their families. Their reputations have magnified in these last years―it’s an honor to call them all friends.
For us, these unexpected gifts speak volumes about the books that Cinco Puntos Press has been publishing for 35 years. Both artists express and celebrate deeply their identity as Chicanxs, their rightful place in the American psyche. Gloria, along with her husband Beto, were in the first wave of Chicanx activism arising in the 1950s and 60s―the farmworkers’ strikes led by Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta; and the equally important Chicanismo resistance in the urban centers of California and the Southwest. Francisco represents the next generation. Born in Juárez and growing up in the historic Segundo Barrio of El Paso, he prefers to define his work as “bordeño”―representing los de abajo. His is an in-your-face aesthetics that mocks the über Kultur while expressing his rage and frustration with the injustice he sees around him. For both artists, the politics of their ethnic and racial identity is central to their work. Brown, like black, is indeed beautiful.
Please consider making a purchase. It’s a good investment, one that supports independent publishing and independent voices in this time of national uncertainty.
Francisco Delgado’s artwork crosses back and forth across el Río Bravo / the Rio Grande and reflects his deep and personal connection to the US-Mexico Borderlands. He was born in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua and raised in El Paso’s historic Segundo Barrio neighborhood, later receiving his MFA from the prestigious Yale School of Art. Delgado’s graphics reflect the social and political history of the border region, with a special emphasis on the collective struggles of underrepresented people, his people―“los bordeños,” the word he uses to identify himself and his community.
“His work, which includes pen and ink and charcoal drawing, painting, printmaking and murals, is often concerned with racism, inequity and the structural violence inherent in the US immigration system and the militarized border. He uses popular imagery and readily recognizable symbols from bordeño culture to parody and critique the darker elements of border life, often highlighting clashes between classes, culture and values. His vision embodies a bit of the comic farce of Tin Tan, the cultural symbols of the uber kultur (elephants, donkeys, automobiles, etc.), and the rage of institutionally imposed second-class citizenship. The resulting vision places him squarely in the lineage of the great paseño artist Luis Jimenez, not as an imitator but as an artist who recognizes his forebears but who is following his own path of creation. The full range of Delgado’s artwork is exhibited in national and international art exhibitions as well as community institutions, published in a variety of books and is included in a number of highly respected personal collections. If you journey through Segundo Barrio between the downtown of El Paso and the Rio Grande, you’re sure to find his iconic murals on the walls of those historic streets. These murals are collaborations with the young people of the barrio. He thinks of himself as a citizen of Segundo, and he’s proud to give back to his community. This is his home, the roots of this important work.”
―Kerry Doyle, Director, Rubin Center for Contemporary Art
Gloria Osuna Pérez (b. 1947, d. 1999) depicted the people of her iconic portraits with deep, cinnamon-colored skin, making them appear more than portraits of friends and family. She called her paintings “supraportraits,” meaning beyond or above portraits. The rich cinnamon skin color gives the portraits a heroic, regal visage that stands deeply contrary to the prevailing Anglo attitude (then and now) toward Mexicans and Mexican-Americans. The paintings say “Somos Chicanos!” with power and dignity. Gloria Osuna Pérez may have turned to her own family and life for inspiration, but her images of people—children with elders, life-long friends—are universal. They speak to the human truths that bind people and community for us all.
Gloria Osuna Perez has been admired and praised for years for her unique paintings. In the spring of 1999, we asked Gloria to do the paintings for Little Gold Star / Estrellita del Oro, storyteller Joe Hayes’ telling of the Northern New Mexican “Cinderella story,” an ancient motif found in cultures around the world. We felt this wonderful cuento and her work were a perfect match. Gloria eagerly agreed to the project, but said she wouldn’t sign a contract. She had been battling ovarian cancer for three years. She would take the project one day at a time. She felt good, excited to have a project before her, but she didn’t know what the future held. She sketched out the fifteen scenes from the book and began the paintings. She finished four paintings and was working on the fifth. Her condition worsened. One night Gloria called us up and told us the news. She was weak. She could not do any more work on the paintings. But, she said, her 26-year-old daughter Lucia Angela Perez, who is also an artist, had come from Dallas to care for her mother. She asked if Lucia could finish the work. She would teach her daughter her unique folkloric style, especially her recipe for mixing the paints for the texture of the skin.
What could we say but yes?
So, as Gloria lay dying, her daughter being both daughter and hospice nurse, she told Lucia about the colors she was using and her vision for each of the scenes she had sketched out. Two weeks after that phone call, Gloria died. Honored to carry her mother’s legacy, Lucia painted the remaining scenes, always with her eye on the work her mom had begun, always remembering her mother’s words, her fierce spirit and her love for her people. The result is seamless, truly remarkable, a tribute to the powerful relationship between a mother and her daughter.