Art, Music & Culture

“Visual Clave” CLLAS Research Series: Faculty Collaboration Research Grant

April 11, 2019
3:30 pmto5:00 pm

Ford Lecture Hall
Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art (JSMA)
1430 Johnson Lane
University of Oregon campus

CLLAS Research Series: Faculty Collaboration Research Grant

“Visual Clave: The Expression of the Latino/a Experience Through Album Cover Art: 1940-1990” 

presented by Philip Scher, Anthropology, and Cheryl Hartup, Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art

Visual Clave is organized by Philip W. Scher, UO Professor of Anthropology and Folklore and Public Culture and Divisional Dean for Social Sciences, and Pablo E. Yglesias, a Northampton, MA-based Cuban-American researcher, writer, musician, artist, and DJ. An expanded version of the exhibition was on view previously at the Student Union Art Gallery at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst; the Bronx Music Heritage Center, NY; and Picture Farm Gallery, Brooklyn, NY. Visual Clave takes its inspiration and intellectual structure from Yglesias’ book Cocinando: 50 Years of Latin Album Cover Art (Princeton Architectural Press, 2005). The exhibition is supported by UO’s College of Arts and Sciences, the Center for Latino/a and Latin American Studies (CLLAS), and a JSMA Academic Support Grant.

All album covers reproduced courtesy of their respective record labels.

The talk is at 3:30 p.m. on April 11 in the Ford Lecture Hall at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art. 1430 Johnson Lane, University of Oregon campus. jsma.uoregon.edu 541.346.3027

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Latinx album covers invite people to look at art in a new way

https://around.uoregon.edu/content/latinx-album-covers-invite-people-look-art-new-way

From Around the O / March 4, 2019—Music and art have long-shared a history of collaboration, from turn-of-the-century sheet music illustrations to the vibrant psychedelic album cover designs of the trippy ’60s and beyond.

A slice of that history has makes up the visual artistry of Latinx artists, who are the subject of an interactive exhibition at the UO’s Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art titled “Visual Clave: The Expression of the Latino/a Experience through Album Cover Art: 1940-90.” The installation features 40-50 original album covers that are, in some cases, paired with the original artwork that was created to produce the album cover.

The inspiration for the exhibit, and the culmination of more than a decade of research and collecting, is the 2005 book “Cocinando: 50 Years of Latin Album Cover Art”by Northampton, Massachusetts-based Cuban-American author, musician and artist Pablo Ygnasio. The result is a pared-down selection culled from a larger East Coast show that distills the essence of the Latinx experience in its many forms.

The co-curator of the exhibit is Phillip Scher, UO professor of anthropology and folklore and public culture and also divisional dean for social sciences in the College of Arts and Sciences. Scher has collaborated with Ygnasio on projects since their college days together and explained that although the work is certainly diverse, much of what was produced for the mass market in the early days was largely controlled by big music industry companies like RCA, Decca and Capitol Records.

“Record producers and record labels understood the popularity of popular music — there had been a big mambo craze — they understood that it sold records, but they were still largely controlling the recording marketing and distribution process,” Scher said. “The artists might have been contracted, who themselves may not have been from the (Latinx) community.”

The exhibit hall

That began to change, however, in the 1960s and ’70s as Latin American musicians and emergent independent record labels such as Faniabegan to hand over more control to the musicians as well as to the artists who designed the cover art.

That also meant taking control of the messaging.

Latinx artists not only used albums as an outlet to express themselves artistically but also oftentimes as a means of conveying provocative commentary on Hispanic topics of resistance or issues of a political, economic or cultural nature.

“You begin to see covers themselves reflecting more of what the musicians want to say about their music, their community, their relationship to the American experience,” Scher said. “There’s a variety of ways in which taking control of the process of production yields really different artwork.”

Indeed, the exhibition, which is grouped by themes, embraces everything from dance and food, “Spanglish”, lowriders and borders, and life in the barrio to protest, resistance and spirituality, to name a few. A section celebrating female artists provides imagery and context to those strong Latinas who persevered, despite pressure to “stay out of the macho world of salsa and ranchera” and to not speak to women’s issues and perspectives.

Likewise, a 1971 Izzy Sanabria album cover designed for the iconic Willie Colónrecord “La Gran Fuga/The Big Break”, also known as the “Wanted by the FBI,” features a mug shot of Colón and uses satire to break negative stereotypes of the “bad Latino.” That includes humorous quotes such as “armed with a trombone and considered dangerous” and “Occupation: singer, also a very dangerous man with his voice.” Ironically, Colón went on to a career in law enforcement.

Although it’s not featured in this grouping, Scher cited an example of subtle messaging in popular crossover musician Desi Arnaz’ album Babalú. It’s unlikely that the predominently Anglo-American audience tuning in to the 1950s era comedy sitcom “I Love Lucy” suspected that Arnaz’ signature, conga-infused song was a ceremonial drumming ritual designed to invoke the spirit of Babalú-Ayú.

“What he is essentially approximating there is an Afro-Cuban religious ceremony, in which the spirits are invoked by calling them out and drumming in certain patterns to have the spirits arrive, to come to the ritual and participate,” Scher explained. “And sometimes that participation meant essentially spirit possession. People were singing that and had no idea what they were singing about.”

Because the exhibition also embodies multiple disciplines — Latin Americaninternationaland ethnic studieshistorymusicartfolklore, and anthropology— “the teaching potential is tremendous,” Scher said. As they view the artwork and peruse the program, museum visitors listen to piped-in Latin music selections drawn from each of the albums on display and can also take a turn at playing the claves, an important percussion instrument used in African, Brazilian and Cuban music.

Overall, Scher hopes that the takeaway for people is that they will think differently about pop cultural ephemera.

“For many people and for many ways, popular culture is a really viable way of communicating through artistic expression and reaching a lot of people, communicating the most pressing types of issues that confront a particular community,” he said.

Ygnasio and Scher will present a curator’s lecture, part of the CLLAS Spring 2019 Research Presentation Series, on April 11. The exhibition runs through April 21.

By Sharleen Nelson, University Communications

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Friday, March 1st, 2019 Art, Music & Culture, Funding, Research No Comments

NALAC awards artist grant to Ernesto Martínez

February 20, 2019—Ernesto Javier Martínez has been awarded a $5,000 NFA Artist Grant from the National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures (NALAC). An associate professor in the UO Department of Ethnic Studies, Martínez is one of 43 grantees from among 400 applicants to be selected for the 13th cycle of the NALAC Fund for the Arts grant program.

Ernesto Martínez

According to the grant program manager, “These 43 recipients are recognized for their artistic excellence in pursuit of social justice through the arts and were selected from a pool of over 400 applications by a national peer panel process involving 45 arts experts representing diverse disciplines, regions and ethnicities.”

Martínez received the grant “to support the continuation of the Femeniños project, a children’s book and short film series highlighting the experiences of queer Latino/x boys and the families who bear witness to their lives.

This project began in 2017 as a collaboration with the San Francisco-based children’s book author Maya Christina González and has expanded to work with the Los Angeles-based independent film director Adelina Anthony and Oregon-based Hollywood film director Omar Naim. Through the Femeniños project, the artist aims to empower queer Latinx youth through stories that capture their imaginations, embody their cultural roots and represent queer lives in a positive light.”

CLLAS is one of several UO units that have provided grant support to Professor Martínez for his work on this project. In 2018, Martínez published the children’s book When We Love Someone We Sing to Them,which reframes a cultural tradition to include LGBTQ experience. La Serenata is a film adaption of the book. 

“Both the screenplay and the book,” Martínez said, “tell the story of a Mexican-American boy who learns from his parents about serenatas and why demonstrating romantic affection proudly, publicly, and through song is such a treasured Mexican tradition. One day, the boy asks his parents if there is a song for a boy who loves a boy. The parents, surprised by the question and unsure of how to answer, must decide how to honor their son and how to reimagine a beloved tradition.”

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SOMD grad brings home a Grammy for Latin jazz album

From Around the O: https://around.uoregon.edu/content/somd-grad-brings-home-grammy-latin-jazz-album

February 18, 2019—Musician, educator and composer Josh Deutsch, a 2009 graduate of the UO’s School of Music and Dance, took home a Grammy Award last week for his work on an acclaimed jazz album.

UO graduate Josh Deutsch is now a Grammy winner.

Deutsch played trumpet with the Dafnis Prieto Big Band, which won the best Latin jazz album award for “Back to the Sunset.”

Deutsch earned a master’s degree in jazz studies from the UO and returns to Eugene each summer to teach a jazz improvisation camp at the music school. He received an excellence in teaching award from the UO in 2008 for his work with large and small jazz ensembles and private improvisation students.

Deutsch said playing and recording with Prieto’s Latin jazz band was “a total thrill.”

“The band is full of incredible musicians, some of whom are long time heroes who I’ve been listening to since I was in high school,” he said. “Being part of a Grammy-winning album feels unbelievable. I’ve been fortunate to play with many great musical projects, both as a leader and sideman in New York over the last 10 years, but to have this album receive this level of international acclaim is really exciting and hopefully will lead to more albums and touring with this band.”

In addition to his work with the Dafnis Prieto Big Band, Deutsch leads the band Pannonia and the Josh Deutsch Quintet, and is a founding member of the Queens Jazz Overground. He also performs in a duo with guitarist Nico Soffiato that has toured extensively in Italy and the United States.

Deutsch also a composer. His compositions and arrangements have been performed by artists including the Seattle Symphony Orchestra and the Oregon Jazz Ensemble, Ron Miles, Danilo Perez and Ruth Marshall.

A native of Seattle, he lives in the borough of Queens in New York City.

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Monday, February 18th, 2019 Art, Music & Culture, Awards No Comments

Cine-Lit 9—A conference on Hispanic Cinema and Literature

March 8, 2019toMarch 11, 2019

Locations: UO PDX and PSU

See also: https://around.uoregon.edu/content/women-hispanic-film-and-literature-focus-pdx-gathering

Founded in 1990, Cine-Lit is the continuing, cooperative organization between the University of Oregon, Portland State University, and Oregon State University that, in conjunction with the Portland International Film Festival, organizes an international symposium on Hispanic film and literature every 3-4 years. The conference is held at the UO PDX and PSU.

This 9thedition highlights the theme of WOMEN (women filmmakers, representations of women and genders and so on).

For the UO Eugene,this is a signature event for faculty and students working in Hispanic cultures across disciplines in the Humanities, as the occasion showcases UO faculty and students who come from Eugene to participate in conference sessions, round tables, filmmaker lectures and film screenings at the University of Oregon’s Portland campus. In past conferences, faculty and graduate students from Romance Languages, Cinema, Women and Gender Studies, Journalism, History and Latin American Studies have participated in the conference and film festival.

New for 2019 is a campaign to create two conference sessions dedicated to the presentation of Eugene undergraduate research on Hispanic cinema and culture.

The second initiative new for 2019 is that peer-reviewed articles based on conference papers from 2015 (and, later for 2019) will be published in a special issue of the new UO-based academic journal Peripherica http://journals.oregondigital.org/index.php/peripherica/index.

Activities

  • Over three days, professors, graduate and undergraduate students share their research on the relationship between cinema and literature. They also participate in workshops, attend roundtable discussions by the writers and cineastes invited by the symposium, and listen to the keynotes. All meetings are free and open to the public.
  • Each afternoon and evening speakers and audiences have to opportunity to watch the latest Hispanic films featured at the Portland International Film Festival in connection to the themes discussed at the conference.
  • One highlight is the presence of the Hispanic directors invited by Cine-Lit and whose films are featured by the Festival. Cine-Lit participants and our university students interact with these invited artists.

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Friday, February 15th, 2019 Art, Music & Culture, Conference, Film No Comments

Ernesto Martínez, “The Femeniños Project: Literature and Visual Media for Queer Latino/x Youth”

March 7, 2019
3:30 pmto5:00 pm

Diamond Lake Room, Erb Memorial Union (EMU 119)

CLLAS Research Series Presentation

“The Femeniños Project: Literature and Visual Media for Queer Latino/x Youth.” 

Ernesto Javier Martínez, associate professor, Department of Ethnic Studies, will present his recent work with the Femeniños Project, a multi-genre storytelling initiative that brings together award-winning filmmakers, writers, illustrators, and musicians to help mitigate the severe underrepresentation of Latino/x youth in contemporary cultural production and to proactively challenge the harm inflicted upon queer youth of color when their humanity is distorted in the mainstream imagination. 

Ernesto Martinez

CLLAS awarded its first Latinx Studies seed grant (2018-19) for research or creative projects to Professor Martinez, for his proposal, “A Child Should Not Long for Its Own Image: Literature and Visual Media for Queer Latinx Youth.” The project included four components: (1) the production of the short film La Serenata; (2) the premier screening of the film at the University of Oregon, followed by a discussion with the director and fellow collaborators; (3) a community conversation about queer Latinx youth with teachers and parents in the Eugene/Springfield area; and (4) free distribution of the bilingual children’s book When We Love Someone, We Sing to Them to local schools, libraries, and community centers.

La Serenata is a film adaption of a children’s book that Martínez wrote, entitled When We Love Someone, We Sing to Them, published in 2018 by Reflections Press. “Both the screenplay and the book,” Martínez said, “tell the story of a Mexican-American boy who learns from his parents about serenatas and why demonstrating romantic affection proudly, publicly, and through song is such a treasured Mexican tradition. One day, the boy asks his parents if there is a song for a boy who loves a boy. The parents, surprised by the question and unsure of how to answer, must decide how to honor their son and how to reimagine a beloved tradition.”

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Center for Latino/a and Latin American Studies Gift Fund

Access the above link for giving to the Center for Latino/a and Latin American Studies Gift Fund. Online gifts may be made using the form available at this link; all gifts are processed by the University of Oregon Foundation, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization responsible for receiving and administering private donations to the University of Oregon.

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