On Exhibit at MOCA – Axis Mundo: Queer Networks in Chicano L.A.

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Photos and text by Paulo Murillo

The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) located in West Hollywood, is currently showcasing “Axis Mundo: Queer Networks in Chicano L.A.,” with over 50 artworks from Mexican-American artists in East L.A. and beyond, dating back from the 1960s to the early 90s. The majority of these works are from LGBT artists.

USC’s National Gay & Lesbian Archives combines art and activism with this collection of works from lesser-known artists. Artists include Faith Wilding and members of the 1970s artist collective ASCO like celebrated figures Patssi Valdez and Gronk. Muralist and community arts organizer Judith F. Baca, is also featured in this collection. She helped lead a wave of outspoken L.A.-based women who railed against traditional family structures, macho violence, and homophobia, expanding perceptions of queerness to include women of color.

On display are vintage t-shirts that Chicano civil rights activists took to the streets in the late 1960s with words like “maricón” (Spanish for faggot) and “malfroa” (meaning dyke) scrawled across the chest. The museum also showcases 70s fashion, punk records, gay Spanish comic books, paintings, photographs, and video works. Subject matters include protests against the Vietnam war as well as the impact of the AIDS pandemic. Many of these works touch against subject matters that effect us today like police brutality.

The exhibit covers queer and Chicano visual culture in East L.A. and beyond, featuring artists from Guadalajara to Oakland and Houston, as well as our very own West Hollywood. Artist Mundo Meza’s documentation of window displays at Maxfield Bleu in WeHo, from the early 1980s, are worth a look.

Axis Mundo: Queer Networks in Chicano L.A. exhibit will run from September 9 to December 31. The display of more than two decades of artwork encompassing painting, performance ephemera, print material, video, fashion, and photography will be presented at two locations: MOCA Pacific Design Center, located at 8687 Melrose Avenue, and ONE Gallery West Hollywood, located at 9007 Melrose Avenue. Admission is free.

This project is organized by ONE Archives at the USC Libraries as part of The Getty’s Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA Initiative (PST: LA/LA).

For more information, please visit www.weho.org/wehoartes, or contact Rebecca Ehemann, Public Art Coordinator, (323) 848-6846, or rehemann@weho.org.

For additional information, please contact ONE Gallery West Hollywood at (213) 821-2771.