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Bringing Aztlan to Mexican Chicago

My Life, My Work, My Art

Jose Gamaliel Gonzalez

Publication Year: 2010

Bringing Aztlan to Mexican Chicago is the autobiography of Jose Gamaliel Gonzalez, an impassioned artist willing to risk all for the empowerment of his marginalized and oppressed community. Through recollections emerging in a series of interviews conducted over a period of six years by his friend Marc Zimmerman, Gonzalez looks back on his life and his role in developing Mexican, Chicano, and Latino art as a fundamental dimension of the city he came to call home._x000B__x000B_Born near Monterrey, Mexico, and raised in a steel mill town in northwest Indiana, Gonzalez studied art at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the University of Notre Dame. Settling in Chicago, he founded two major art groups: El Movimiento Artístico Chicano (MARCH) in the 1970s and Mi Raza Arts Consortium (MIRA) in the 1980s. _x000B__x000B_With numerous illustrations, this book portrays Gonzalez's all-but-forgotten community advocacy, his commitments and conflicts, and his long struggle to bring quality arts programming to the city. By turns dramatic and humorous, his narrative also covers his bouts of illness, his relationships with other artists and arts promoters, and his place within city and barrio politics.

Published by: University of Illinois Press

Series: Latinos in Chicago and the Midwest


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Title Page

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xiv

I wish to acknowledge the help of Nicolás Kanellos and his staff at Arte Público Press for finding key materials and scanning many photos from José’s private collection. Thanks to Mario Castillo, Jeff Huebner, Lennie Domínguez, and Gilberto Cárdenas, as well as José’s former wife (and my former colleague), Mary Kay Vaughan, ...


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pp. xv-xvi

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pp. xvii-xxvii

I first met José Gamaliel González when I began working as coordinator of the Rafael Cintrón Ortiz Latino Student Cultural Center at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Part of my job was to meet and work with people in the community, and one of my new colleagues, Mary Kay Vaughan, told me I had to meet her ex-husband and father of her child Alicia, ...

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Invocation: Some Framing Thoughts

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pp. 1-2

This will be the story of my life—my work as a Mexican artist and arts promoter in Chicago’s Mexican community. There’s so much to tell, and I’m not sure I can tell it all. Sometimes I think I’m losing memory. I remember the order and dates of things and the things more or less, but I seem to leave out the details. ...

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1. The Early Years (1933-55)

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pp. 3-15

My mother’s father was from Durango, Mexico, I think, but he’d gone to the Midwest when she was pretty young. My father came up to East Chicago, Indiana, as a migrant worker. They met in the early thirties, during the Depression, at a time when a lot of Mexicans were being sent back from Chicago to Mexico. ...

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2. From High School to Notre Dame (1955-71)

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pp. 16-50

I graduated high school, but I didn’t go to work. Instead I went to study art at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts for a year. The school no longer exists, but it was near the corner of Rush Street and Chicago Avenue in the heart of the Gold Coast, the city’s key nightlife area for tourists. It was there that I learned to draw and paint watercolors (fig. 10). ...

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3. The MARCH Years (1971-79)

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pp. 51-83

First, I went back to Hammond because that’s where I lived with my mother, and it was in Hammond that I began to get involved with some local Latino organizations. There’s no question that leaving Notre Dame meant a long period of confusion and disorientation for me. I supported myself by taking on part-time freelance work in Chicago. ...

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4. Raíces, MIRA, and the MFAC (1979-92)

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pp. 84-120

It seemed that most of what I’d been building was now in ruins, but that was really not the case. Most of the old MARCH group dropped out from that organization and waited to see where I or they might go. In the meantime, I was continuing my Task Force work, and my Task Force connections were keeping doors open as I began to dream up a new organization and project. ...

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5. Art, Work, and Health (1990-2007)

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pp. 121-148

During the period of MIRA and for years afterward, my struggle was going to be like being thrown in hell. I was dealing with a series of attacks or breakdowns. I was in and out of hospitals, body- and mental-health facilities, and halfway homes. There were times when I had intense visions, when I walked the streets ...


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pp. 149-152

Works Cited

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pp. 153-154


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pp. 155-166

E-ISBN-13: 9780252090141
Print-ISBN-13: 9780252035388

Page Count: 200
Publication Year: 2010

Series Title: Latinos in Chicago and the Midwest
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OCLC Number: 741501829
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Bringing Aztlan to Mexican Chicago

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Subject Headings

  • González, José Gamaliel, 1933-.
  • Mexican American artists -- Biography
  • González, José Gamaliel, 1933- -- Themes, motives.
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