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Magic kingdom 

Real and surreal collide to infuse the BAC with color and history

click to enlarge Stevon Luceros Stage: one work of Chicano magic.
  • Stevon Luceros Stage: one work of Chicano magic.

Patty Ortiz has an affinity for Chicano magic. Not tricks, but supernatural themes that permeate Chicano and Latino literature and art.

"There is a very strong influence of surrealism," says the executive director of Denver's Museo de las Amricas.

Ortiz organized and is guest curating Chicano Magic, which runs into November at the Business of Art Center. She invited 14 area Chicano artists from a previous Museo exhibition to return for this display, which includes oil paintings, prints, installations and collages.

Many works feature historic figures like Frida Kahlo and Che Guevara, or skeletons from Day of the Dead celebrations. But BAC gallery director Mimi Mitchell notes that expected imagery is not the show's main focus.

"It's not about looking typically ethnic," she says. "It's about exploring what they, as Chicano artists, are expressing."

Several pieces clearly draw upon European themes. Hieronymus Bosch, for example, influences painter Santiago Perez's works. Jerry Vigil's "Vitruvian Muertos" (based off of Leonardo da Vinci's "Vitruvian Man") is one of several works that lend lively blue skeletons to Western cultural situations.

Along with positive aspects of Western influence, though, several artists also call attention to Chicano stereotypes and other hot issues, including commentaries on the current state of U.S.-Mexican immigration. See the dirty Styrofoam chest filled with "Halliburritos," by Daniel and Maruca Salazar.

When the exhibition returns to the past, it does so with abundant color, and by reaching deep. Miraculous elements have a strong place in Chicano culture and in this exhibit, as in all magic, there's much more than meets the eye.

Chicano Magic
The Business of Art Center, 513 Manitou Ave., Manitou Springs
Runs through Nov. 3. Hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Free; for more, call 685-1861 or visit thebac.org. For a review of this show, visit csindy.com.

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