VPAM showcases 100 years of revolutionary ideologies

Regeneracion—The Flores Magon brothers illustrated on the cover of the original “Regeneracion“ newspaper. Courtesy of VPAM

By: Luis Castilla 

The Vincent Price Art Museum had an opening reception for their new exhibit, “Regeneración: Three Generations of Revolutionary Ideology” Saturday.

The event featured  a live music performance by Aztlan Underground, a dance performance and a poetry reading by  artist Patricia Valencia.

“Regeneración: Three Generations of Revolutionary Ideology” explores the evolution and growth of revolutionary radical ideologies of Latinos through art, protest and political cartoons and magazines.

The exhibit features three iterations of “Regeneración.” These were three eras of political and cultural enlightenment and heightened political consciousness which spans 100 years.

Curatorial and research assistant, Javier Arellano Vences, said the exhibit is thematically split and not necessarily in any chronological order.

This way, visitors can better understand the unifying themes each “Regeneración” fought to protect like equality, freedom and art

“This exhibition is intergenerational, intersectional, and transnational in approach,” said Vincent Price Art Museum director Pilar Tompkins Rivas.

The first began with the Mexican brothers, Flores Magón, Ricardo and Enrique, who founded the Los Angeles based newspaper, “Regeneración” (1900-1918).

This was the official publication of the Partido Liberal Mexicano.

The newspaper’s motto was, “Escrito por trabajadores y para los trabajadores,” meaning “Written by workers, for workers.”

Its focus was on the anarchist struggle of Mexico.

It included political cartoons, caricatures and artwork by anarchist artists like Fermín Sagristá, Ludovico Caminita, Nicolás Reveles and Luis Villegas Jr. The covers for the “Regeneración” newspaper are on display in the exhibit.

It is evident throughout the entire exhibit, that women and feminism were not only important, but crucial in all versions of “Regeneración.”

After the arrests of men in the PLM, women obtained greater leadership roles. In 1915, an all-women branch of the PLM, “Luz y Vida,” was formed in Los Angeles.

The next “Regeneración” (1970-1975) came in the form of a cultural and political journal.It was founded by Chicana activist Francisca Flores.

She was the first editor for the “Carta Editorial, an East Los Angeles community newsletter.that reported Civil Rights-era events.  This newsletter would become the second “Regeneración.”

The journal was named in homage to the newspaper and emphasized the same ideologies that its predecessor had.

This “Regeneración” featured news, essays, photojournalism and poetry.

The art collective Asco first began while creating artwork, political cartoons and articles for the journal.

The exhibit explains that the heightened police presence in communities of color after the Los Angeles riots of 1992 created an atmosphere of fear and oppression.

This caused the state to institute policies and initiatives aimed at California’s Latino populations.

This was the incubator in which  the third and last iteration, “Regeneración/Popular Resource Center” (1993-1999) was born.

It was a political, community-focused art space in Highland Park. Its co-founders were Zack de la Rocha, lead singer of Rage Against the Machine, and Rudy Ramirez of Aztlan Underground.

The space saw highly experimental forms of multimedia and multidisciplinary art performances.

It was at “Regeneración/Popular Resource Center” that “Radio Clandestina” first operated. “Radio Clandestina”(1996-2001) was born from the micro-radio movement.

The station aimed to “bring voice to under-represented, Chicano channels of news, music, and culture.”

Its mission statement is on display in the exhibit, reading, “Radio Clandestina believes that there must be an open exchange of ideas and freedom of cultural experiences for all people, regardless of their wealth, ethnicity, gender, or where they live.”

Throughout its three forms, the people behind “Regeneración” were persecuted and vilified by law enforcement.

The Flores Magón brothers and members of the PLM were often imprisoned for organizing resistance brigades on the border.

Photographs of the Flores Magón brothers in prison, along with their booking photos, can be found in the exhibit.

At the end of the night, Mark Torres of radio KPFK’s Travel Tips for Aztlan,  musician and artists Lysa Flores and Valencia talked about their experiences in the  “Regeneración” scenes and urged the next generation of revolutionaries to follow in their footsteps.

“Regeneración: Three Generations of Revolutionary Ideology” will be on display at VPAM until Feb. 16. VPAM is open Tuesday to Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. and Thursday from noon to 7 p.m.

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