Following Jeff Soto’s very successful Potatostamp exhibition, Rogelio Gutierrez’s show is the second gallery takeover this year, where we will essentially hand an artist the keys to a gallery and see what happens. It is also one of two The Cheech @ RAM exhibitions opening this month – the other being Jaime Guerrero | Contemporary Relics: A Tribute to the Makers – a new strategy for RAM’s exhibition program building excitement and awareness for The Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Arts, Culture & Industry.
First-generation Mexican-American Chicano artist Rogelio Gutierrez addresses issues of identity, community, and family, questioning what it is to be a true “American.” Although this exhibition is heavily laced with Mexican/Chicano symbolism and imagery, like frijole (bean) pots, huaraches (Mexican sandals), and the Virgin de Guadalupe, Gutierrez’s work points to the similarities that people from this country share as they establish a place they call home.
Una Noche Chicana combines video installation, lithographic prints, and stitched (costura) goods created by the artist’s mother, creating a sense of nostalgia around a much more innocent time, a time when sitting in the living room waiting for the telenovelas (Mexican soap operas) to start with a warm chocolate or avena (oatmeal drink) was a religion – when being with your family and sharing a moment of unity and love took center stage.
At the center of the exhibition is the immersive A Night at The Drive-In: Amor Sin Fronteras. Originally installed at the Museo de la Ciudad de Mexico, Mexico City D.F., in the exhibition, Trazo Urbano: Grafica Contemporanea desde Mexico, it is a short video inspired by Mexican telenovelas of the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, such as Quinceañera, Muchachitas, and Dos Mujeres, un Camino, and features Joan Sebastian and Lisa Lopez’s catchy 1985 pop ballad, Rumores. About the work, Gutierrez says, “the work is nostalgic in nature and comments on one’s expectations and if the anticipation is worth the wait.”