“Chico & Chang”: Exhibit Shows the Swirl of Asian and Latino Culture

Two years in the making, this exhibit accomplishes what it set out to do: to showcase the multifaceted art being made in California from an often-overlapping Asian and Latino perspective. Even in a state that has long enjoyed strong (and growing stronger) Asian and Latino populations, these culture-crossing hybrid works are surprising. Consider Tracey Snelling's Mexicalichina, a model neighborhood block with signs in Spanish and Chinese, sounds of music and hustle and bustle, video images in doorways, telephone poles with an electroluminescent wire that lights up, street graffiti, and a street poster showing Chinese artist Ai Weiwei. Clever. Then there's Takehito Etani's surreal photo art of Mexican wrestlers and Tokyo residents — people whose faces and other body parts are whitened or erased in an attempt to find their “true identity.” Also remarkable: a kitchen entirely in plaid (including plates and teapots). The head of a denim swine labeled “hipster pig.” A video showing the undocumented children of immigrants “coming out” of their social closets. All 11 artists have something serious, funny, or significant to add to this state's vital conversations about immigration, assimilation, cultural differences, and population shifts.

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