GRONK – CALIFORNIA ARTIST (ASCO)
IN HIS OWN WORDS:
Harry [Gamboa] was putting together a magazine called Regeneración and he asked me if I wanted to participate along with Patssi [Valdez] and Willie [Herron] and I thought, now I can get to
work with this team. Creatively they were doing things that I was interested in and they all looked good in front of a camera and I think that’s kind of why things clicked for us because Harry had the camera and documented us throughout the time we were seeing each other and participating and doing different projects together as ASCO. I was trying to push ASCO into more of a performance type of realm.
I think the ultimate thing about ASCO is that we never asked permission to do what we were doing, we didn’t go and ask and say can we do this or show here. It was just, “Let’s just do it!” Time is short. I want to do an instant mural. “Pattsi, I’m going to take you to the wall.” And people will look at it and think, “Well, what is all that about?” Its about oppression, its about being confined to one’s neighborhood, it’s a culture being confined and being locked in. So it had many different levels.
In 1972 Willie [Herron] wa asked to do a mural in Estrada Courts. Estrada Courts is a low income housing
project in East L.A. He asked would you like to do a mural with me? I didn’t really know what a mural was then but Willie and I related to each other as artists and this particular peice that we were making was a black and white mural and some people have labeled it “The Moratorium Mural.” What I did was I took an image from a film. The Children of Paradise, and incorporated it into that particular mural. But people look at the mural and they see yes, the moratorium, people are being gassed and they never question the tease there. The thing was that for me that movie was made during the occupation of France by Germany and the movie was done in a clandestine way. I felt that East LA was in a state of occupation, so it’s a film reference placed in this context of East LA. I pull from many different sources because that is who I am and that’s what make me up as a creative person–utilizing information from any different places.
The reason I chose to do art was not to win a popularity contest. The purpose was for exploration. I was something that I was driven to do. It wasn’t because I would like to be successful. If I used my hands, if I used my mind, and I was tired by the end of the day because I had created something that I really believed in, then that was my success.