There's a new art movement in town. Urban art, painting and installation that features a cross-over of Asian and Latino culturaliconography –– or Latino-Asian influence. Call it LA Fusion. It can be witnessed at the exhibit "Tigers and Jaguars" now at The Craft and Folk Art Museum.
Los Angeles based Asian-Latino Art has been merging slowly for a decade, quietly with no notice. It's introduced by curator Kathy Mas-Gallegos who found 13 artists with work representing a cross-cultural influence that "comes from an organic growth" rather than studied technique. Once the show opened, she recalls the reaction of one observer: "He came up to me and said 'Do you know how historic this is?'"
There's community in "Tigers and Jaguars." Part urban form as seen in graffiti artist, Charles "Chaz" Bojorquez, who uses Chinese iconography along with tagging style typography in a bold declaration. But the Chicano based influence that still embraces two cultures is demonstrated by Japanese artist Clement Hanami. Raised in East LA, his "Rice Rocket" gives us not just an icon for LA Fusion, but gives us a ride in a (modified) rickshaw, complete with white walls, chrome rims, and a speaker system that blares out music by War.This meditative conversation between two cultures is also part satirical improvisational theater (a form that led to SNL). One look at the piece and you read a personal cultural interpretation immediately. It won't be long before we see a plastic Buddha on the dash of another temple, the Chevy dashboard.
Kathy Mas-Gallegos also notes the commitment of younger artists to art that states something, anything. Even with the turbulence of ethnic clashes in Los Angeles––this city has also been a place where cultural identity is shared. LA Fusion is now an invitation for Asian artists to give new interpretations of Asian and Latino iconic figures working together.
Is there a better way to mark the 225 Anniversary of Los Angeles than witnessing the birth of a new art movement born in the city? A movement that takes social commentary on a cruise around neighborhoods in a low rider rickshaw with "War" blaring out on speakers, "Why can't we be friends?"From the upcoming print version of View From a Loft in The Arts District Citizen.
Pictured: Clement Hanami in Little Tokyo
Story and Photo by Edward Fuentes
(Added 9.3.06.) "Rice Rocket," photo courtesy of the artist. Clement Hanami e-mails that "Rice Rocket" will be appearing in the LA225 Show opening September 9th at El Pueblo / Pico House.