Other Voices: Guillermo Bejarano

Guillermo Bejarano

Guillermo Bejarano met Carlos Almaraz in 1971 at Mechicano Art Center. He also participated in the Concilio de Arte Popular, Chismearte, and Centro de Arte Público. This recollection is excerpted from an interview with Marielos Kluck, and has been edited and condensed for clarity.

[In the early 1970s,] we got an invitation from one of Carlos’s friends in Students for a Democratic Society [SDS], who invited him to go to Cuba. He asked me if I was interested and said “Wow! Sure.” … Our purpose was primarily to understand the social artistic values of the Cuban Revolution. We wanted to find people we could talk with. We actually went to [actress] Jane Fonda and asked for a camera and film. And she provided us with film and Carlos brought his camera… to film aspects of the Cuban revolution with interviews of artists in Cuba. He also planned to do a mural to present to the Venceremos Brigade, which was the name of the organization [founded by SDS] to recruit American students to participate in the building of apartment buildings for workers, who were previously working or living at poverty level.

Carlos and I were very interested in knowing more about the Cuban revolution. We got a lot of static from other Chicano artists because many of the Chicano artists were cultural nationalists.... I favored an international approach to Chicano art and Carlos also did the same. He felt that the international realms of art were also important in terms of defining what Chicano art was about. And we used a Marxist analysis to understand what were the conditions in the Chicano community that arose from all social movements and cultural movements and artistic movements. 

 

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