HARRY GAMBOA – CALIFORNIA ARTIST
IN HIS OWN WORDS:
During the Chicano Moratorium, in the midst of being tear-gassed and chased by police, I met Francisca Flores and she thrust a copy of Regeneración into my hand. She said, “Give me a call.” A few days later I sent her a note telling her I really liked it. She said, “Great, you’re the editor now!” Being the editor I wanted to bring in people that had this visual power. I had met Willie Herron and Patssi Valdez at Garfield High School and Gronk I met a little later. I was aware of the
fact that they were great artists in terms of being able to draw and paint, but they also had this great fashion sense about them. I felt that by brining together this group, that we could focus attention on the growing movement of Chicano Art. ASCO (Nausea) grew out of this ideas that we could creates images and send them out there and with my ability to write, to provide a textual context to it. We were really the first television generation, we were bombarded by pop culture and had a different orientation.
In 1972, I remember going to the museum with a friend. I found that Chicanos were completely excluded from representation at the L.A. County Museum of Art. I became irate and made my way into the inner sanctum of the chief curator and demanded to know why Chicano artists were excluded. He turned to me, holding a martini glass in his hand, and told me that Chicanos didn’t make art. I was stunned. I came back with Gronk and Willie Herron and we signed all the entrances to the museum, spray-painted them with our names, and I came back the next day to photograph it. Thus, creating our piece which was to spray paint LACMA, the first conceptual work of Chicano art to ever be exhibited at the L.A. County Museum of Art.
Some of the works that have been most fulfilling for me has been my black and white photography in a series called “Chicano Male Unbonded.” I’ve been photographing various Chicano men since 1991, men who have, in some way or another, made an impact on my life. So were friends, uncles, relatives. From time to time people come up to me and say, Could you please tell me what gang this is?” And these men, most are professionals. Its kind of a reflective thing on the viewers’ perceptions, and their own level of understanding of who Chicanos are. So on that level it helps to instruct them that they are wrong. That theses individuals collectively make up a group but that they are their own men.