Monthly Archives: September 2014

Unmasked write up

A celebration of these exceptional and diverse characters is the focus of “Unmasked,” a just-opened exhibit at MACLA (Movimiento de Arte y Cultura Latino Americana) in downtown San Jose. The arts space promotes Chicano/Latino works and is kicking off its 25th season with “Unmasked,” which showcases “real and re-imagined superheroes.”

Joey Reyes, curatorial coordinator at MACLA, assembled the show, which features about two dozen works by artists Carlos Donjuan, Hector Hernandez, Dulce Pinzón and Rio Yañez. Their paintings and photographs will be on view through Nov. 15 at MACLA, 510 S. First St., San Jose.

Reyes began “Unmasked” with the works of Pinzón after he saw her latest project, “The Real Story of the Superheroes.” Her photographs depict ordinary Mexican immigrants in New York doing ordinary things while dressed in the costumes of American and Mexican superheroes.

“She is the precedent for this show,” according to Reyes, who adds that the young immigrants known as “DREAMers” are life’s true superheroes, a theme found in the paintings of Donjuan.

“That’s my thing and the core of Carlos’ work,” Reyes says, “because he creates figures who are often concealed but are socially and politically active.”

This is the second MACLA show for Yañez, a photographer and graphic artist. “His work is really tongue in cheek,” says Reyes of the artist’s penchant for combining icons and mythology in pop culture staples as random as Godzilla movies and pro wrestling.

Hector Hernandez, the fourth featured artist in “Unmasked,” is a native Texan who blends mixed media with photography and comes up with surreal characters and creatures. “Superhero” may not come immediately to mind in seeing his images, but somehow they work brilliantly in this context.

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San Jose Mercury News   Write up Link






Work by Carlos Donjuan, Hector Hernandez, Dulce Pinzón, & Rio Yañez MACLA opens its 2014-15 season with UNMASKED, an exhibition on real and re-imagined superheroes.


Diversity has come to comic books. As women and minority consumption of comic books and graphic novels has risen, so has the push to diversify its representation of superheroes: an African-American Captain America, a female Thor, and a Puerto Rican Spider-Man named Miles Morales, to name a few re-workings of the superhero stories we know so well. The Latino artists featured in Unmasked explore cultural and social issues of identity and otherness through the visual language of comic books, science fiction and superheroes; they also incorporate the heroic story of and expand on the mythology of the superhero.


Superheroes have been a large part of the American literary, graphic, and pop culture landscape since the early 20th century; their history can be traced back to epic tales of good versus evil and superhuman and otherworldly figures such as Achilles and Zeus. The idea of the heroic figure is also ingrained in the American consciousness from folk tales of Paul Bunyan, a larger-than- life lumberjack with superhuman qualities, to Mose the Fireman, the toughest firefighter in all of New York City, eight feet tall and strong enough to lift a New York streetcar with ease.


Superheroes have captured the popular imagination because they are aspirational while simultaneously exhibiting human vulnerabilities. They possess extraordinary talents or superhuman powers, but just as frequently they display their humanity: a refined sense of justice and equality, inventiveness and courage, all the while concealing their identity. As curator Joey Reyes says, “to unmask is to reveal. The artists in this exhibition reveal a malleable vision of the superhero as icon, one that embodies the qualities of hard work and sacrifice, humor and satire, vulnerability, and the ability to overcome adversity.”


San Jose, California


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