Bringing Aztlan to Mexican Chicago
My Life, My Work, My Art
Publication Year: 2010
Published by: University of Illinois Press
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, ...
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, ...
Invocation: Some Framing Thoughts
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. ...
1. The Early Years (1933-55)
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. ...
2. From High School to Notre Dame (1955-71)
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). ...
3. The MARCH Years (1971-79)
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. ...
4. Raíces, MIRA, and the MFAC (1979-92)
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. ...
5. Art, Work, and Health (1990-2007)
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 ...