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Art: Proof that there is more to Judy Baca than L.A. murals

The MOLAA retrospective features portraits of Baca dressed as a pachuca, pouting and snarling with ruby red lips and teased-out hair — images captured by SPARC co-founder Deitch, a photographer and filmmaker. Baca is known as a muralist, but this early conceptual work emerged from a show that the Woman’s Building co-founder Sheila de Bretteville invited her to organize for the space in 1976.

“Las Chicanas: Venas de la Mujer” now is thought to be the first all-Chicana art exhibition in Los Angeles. It featured work by Baca, Isabel Castro, Judithe Hernandez, Olga Muñiz and Josefina Quezada.

Sheila came to me and said, do we want to do a show that is inclusive of women of color? At the time, [Chicana] women weren’t showing separately from the men. The idea of separating yourself from the men was undermining the movement. I didn’t care. I mean, I cared about the movement. But what I didn’t care about was the incredible machismo. I was having my consciousness raised, partly through my friend Christina [Schlesinger].

Through the mural programs, I knew all of these women. We sat down and we brainstormed and we came up with “Venas de la Mujer” and we all took on different aspects of a woman’s character. We got all dressed up. Judithe was a mourning character. Josefina, I believe she was a factory worker. Isabel Castro, she became the revolutionary. I became the pachuca. Nobody recognized me. I was becoming my cousin Esther — that is her exactly. In school, I was constantly running from them. I got beat up once pretty good by pachucas. That show was about that power, taking the façade.

Judy Baca stands flanked by images she employed in an installation at her 1976 show at the Woman’s Building, one of a young clica member nicknamed “Flaca,” left, the other of the artist as a pachuca.

(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

I did another thing too. I brought the Tiny Locas and the Cyclonas, they were two clicas, neighborhood cliques. They were 14 or 15 and there was one group of girls, they were hard-core cholas. We made a big corazón on the wall behind my sculpture “Las Tres Marías” [now in the collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum]. Out of the veins of the heart, we put the names of the different girls.

Back then, nobody cared about that show. Nobody wrote about it. Nobody spoke about it. It was like it never occurred. But it has started to get more attention recently.

A human-scale triptych features images of a pachuca and a chola flanking a mirror in which the viewer sees herself.

Judy Baca’s “Las Tres Forever,” 2021, on view at MOLAA, was inspired by her 1976 sculpture “Las Tres Marías,” now in the collection of the Smithsonian.

(Simone Moffatt / MOLAA)




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Pop Culture

Art: Proof that there is more to Judy Baca than L.A. murals

The MOLAA retrospective features portraits of Baca dressed as a pachuca, pouting and snarling with ruby red lips and teased-out hair — images captured by SPARC co-founder Deitch, a photographer and filmmaker. Baca is known as a muralist, but this early conceptual work emerged from a show that the Woman’s Building co-founder Sheila de Bretteville invited her to organize for the space in 1976.

“Las Chicanas: Venas de la Mujer” now is thought to be the first all-Chicana art exhibition in Los Angeles. It featured work by Baca, Isabel Castro, Judithe Hernandez, Olga Muñiz and Josefina Quezada.

Sheila came to me and said, do we want to do a show that is inclusive of women of color? At the time, [Chicana] women weren’t showing separately from the men. The idea of separating yourself from the men was undermining the movement. I didn’t care. I mean, I cared about the movement. But what I didn’t care about was the incredible machismo. I was having my consciousness raised, partly through my friend Christina [Schlesinger].

Through the mural programs, I knew all of these women. We sat down and we brainstormed and we came up with “Venas de la Mujer” and we all took on different aspects of a woman’s character. We got all dressed up. Judithe was a mourning character. Josefina, I believe she was a factory worker. Isabel Castro, she became the revolutionary. I became the pachuca. Nobody recognized me. I was becoming my cousin Esther — that is her exactly. In school, I was constantly running from them. I got beat up once pretty good by pachucas. That show was about that power, taking the façade.

Judy Baca stands flanked by images she employed in an installation at her 1976 show at the Woman’s Building, one of a young clica member nicknamed “Flaca,” left, the other of the artist as a pachuca.

(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

I did another thing too. I brought the Tiny Locas and the Cyclonas, they were two clicas, neighborhood cliques. They were 14 or 15 and there was one group of girls, they were hard-core cholas. We made a big corazón on the wall behind my sculpture “Las Tres Marías” [now in the collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum]. Out of the veins of the heart, we put the names of the different girls.

Back then, nobody cared about that show. Nobody wrote about it. Nobody spoke about it. It was like it never occurred. But it has started to get more attention recently.

A human-scale triptych features images of a pachuca and a chola flanking a mirror in which the viewer sees herself.

Judy Baca’s “Las Tres Forever,” 2021, on view at MOLAA, was inspired by her 1976 sculpture “Las Tres Marías,” now in the collection of the Smithsonian.

(Simone Moffatt / MOLAA)




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