Custom Lives: Rasquache Renaissance (2016)

Custom Lives: Rasquache Renaissance (2016)

December 2, 2015 – March 13, 2016

Work by Carlos Rolón/Dzine, Marcos Gaitán, Sergio García, Luis Gispert, Nery Gabriel Lemus, Gilbert “Magu” Luján, Melina Ramirez, Betsabeé Romero, and Ana Serrano.

The work in Custom Lives: Rasquache Renaissance speaks to the ways in which customization carries meaning beyond aesthetics. To take part in the act of customization is a declaration. The way we proclaim our allegiance to a particular group, our politics, our identity is through the objects we surround ourselves with. It is the way we customize our lives from the vehicles that we drive, to the clothes that we buy, to the hairstyles we wear.

Visit MACLA to view Custom Lives: Rasquache Renaissance, where artists fluidly navigate the space between culture and subculture.

About the Artists

Carlos Rolón/Dzine attended Columbia College Chicago with a concentration in painting and drawing. Rolón has been recognized for his elaborately crafted paintings, ornate sculptures and works that come out of American, Latino and uniquely based subcultures. His studio practice investigates pop culture, craft, ritual, beauty and its relationship to art history, subculture, appropriation and the institution. As a first-generation immigrant of Puerto Rican descent, the artist creates objects questioning the concept of luxury and craft making to explore questions of identity, integration and aspiration. His work also represents a detailed examination of curiosity and the process of art making and the cultures surrounding this.

Marcos Gaitán is a local San José artist who received his BFA at San José State University. Gaitán has been part of the Chicano lowrider culture since childhood that he co-founded Hightone Car Club with his brother. He is co-curator of MACLA’s Candy & Chrome Car Show highlighting San Jose’s local lowrider culture and Bay Area makers.

Sergio García uses the unconventional as a theme for his work.  Sergio Garcia embraces painting as platform for self-expression, as well as a channel through which to explore the contemporary socio-political climate.  Garcia’s playful tricycle sculptures manipulate viewers’ traditional expectations of his familiar, childhood toy that are based on memory and nostalgia.

Luis Gispert is an American contemporary artist, whose oeuvre includes photography, installation, sculptural and video art. He is most famous for his staged photographs of ordinary scenes, juxtaposed with seemingly unrelated objects, individuals, and settings that fill the images with a sense of strange double meaning. Through his art, he references hip-hop culture and American stereotypes. He studied at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and received his MFA from Yale University in 2001.

Nery Gabriel Lemus’ subjects in his work range from issues of stereotype and immigration to problems in society that can lead to the failure of families, such as poverty, abuse and neglect. Lemus received his BFA at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California (2007) and his MFA at the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, California (2009). Lemus also attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine (2008).

Gilbert “Magu” Luján was born in Stockton, CA and attended East LA City College, Cal State Long Beach, and the University of California, Irvine where he received a Bachelor of Arts in ceramics and a Master of Fine Arts in sculpture. Lujan, who went by the nickname “Magu,” was a member of the noted Chicano art collective “Los Four.” His work has been exhibited at the LA County Museum of Art, the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, the Brooklyn Museum in New York, the Houston Museum of Fine Arts in Texas, and many galleries across the country. Throughout Lujan’s work one can find references to car culture and hot rods, Mesoamerican forms, Chicano symbols, and personal inventions such as his anthropomorphic dogs juxtaposed in fantasy scenes. Lujan passed away in 2011.

Melina Ramirez was exposed to a mix of Mexican traditions, American popular culture, and complex social issues while she gravitated heavily towards fantasy and narratives while growing up in San José. Ramirez is a MACLA alumna; she participated in their Youth Speaks digital photo exhibit in 2007. She received her BFA from Santa Clara University.

Betsabeé Romero primarily utilizes modified, manipulated and deconstructed automobiles as a platform for addressing social issues, formal concerns, and cultural commentary she has produced site-specific installations for exhibitions. She received a Masters in Art History from UNAM, Mexico, a Masters in Fine Arts from ENAP San Carlos, UNAM, Mexico, a Bachelors of Arts from the Universidad Iberoamericana, Mexico, and studied at the Ecole des Beaux Arts de Paris, France.

Ana Serrano is a first generation Mexican American born in Los Angeles, California in 1983. Inspired by both of the cultural contexts in her life, she creates work utilizing a variety of mediums but primarily uses cardboard and paper to create sculptural work. Her work bears reference to those in low socioeconomic positions,with particular interest in the customs and beliefs, as well as the architecture, fashion, and informal economies present within this segment of society. She graduated from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA in 2008.

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