Jewish Book: Saving Myself, a Los Angeles Childhood
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A Los Angeles Childhood - Common Language -Goya and Jaune Quick to See Smith
Thursday, 05 April 2012 22:36

A few weeks ago I went with my friend Greg to the Albuquerque Museum to see the National Museum Tour of Francisco Goya’s LOS CAPRICHOS. The booklet that accompanied the exhibit defined capricho as a whim, a fantasy or an expression of imagination. They go on to further say that Goya saw it as much more.

I remember seeing his work in 1990 at the Prado in Madrid and thinking that it was so disturbing that I could not look at it.

I found out that Goya was a man trapped in a world of silence - totally deaf- after a bout with typhoid fever or Menieres disease. Perhaps lead poisoning from his oil paints somehow set him free. He began his work depicting demons, vices, something otherworldly.  In a manuscript that accompanied one of the plates in the series, he wrote, "The world is a masquerade. Looks, dress and voice, anything is only pretension. Everyone wants to appear to be what he is not. Everyone is deceiving, and no one ever knows himself."

This was the time of the Spanish Inquisition, a time of corruption, of greed, of manipulation from the Catholic Church. His work shows goblins, demons, and witches.

One of the other paintings in the exhibit was one done by Jaune Quick-To-See Smith. It was iconic and disturbing. I have always liked her work and have found it to hold images, though not outwardly as disturbing as those of Goya, still show the human conflicts "marked on the land". Social commentary and social critique as so integral a part of her work was a way to preserve a site sacred to indigenous people. She treats this land as it is--contested.

Both artists raged against rights taken away for Smith, and Native Americans under United States mandates. They were a people torn from their land. Both artists show their demons, their fears, and their dreams. Both use their work to illustrate their personal as political. I remember in the Woman's Movement, our shout was, the personal is the political. Both show the devastation of racism and the price that is paid to keep it alive.

Since both exhibits, Jaune Quick-To-See Smith's at the O'Keeffe Museum, Landscapes of an American Modernist, on until April 29th and Francisco Goya, LOS CAPRICHOS, at the Albuquerque Museum, are still around, if you're in this area, I encourage you to experience them for yourselves. You may just take away much more than you thought you would.

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