NALAC: Presa House Gallery on May 3rd

Friday, May 3, 2019


Presa House Gallery

May 2019 marks the 30th anniversary of the National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures (NALAC), the legacy service organization dedicated to providing opportunities and empowering Latinx artists and art organizations across the United States, Puerto Rico, Central America and Mexico. In honor of this important milestone, Presa House Gallery is proud to present A Common Vision, an exhibition featuring a selection of 16 Nalaquistas who are alumni of the NALAC Leadership Program or recipients of the NALAC Fund for the Arts Award. The opening reception will be held on First Friday, May 3rd from 6:00 to 11:00 PM, and on view by appointment through May 31, 2019.

The exhibition brings together a cross-section of various media including, drawing, illustration, painting, sculpture, photography, collage, and video. Many of the works address themes of self-exploration, cultural identity, race, history, and socio-economic issues.

Exhibiting artists include: Fernando Andrade, Rolando Briseno, Jenelle Esparza, Anel Flores, Adriana M J Garcia, Raul Gonzalez, Rigoberto Gonzalez, Suzy González, Mari Hernandez, Veronica Jaeger, Michael Menchaca, Jesse Ruiz, Ray Santisteban, Luis Valderas, Debora Kuetzpal Vasquez and Guillermina Zabala

About National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures

The National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures (NALAC) is the nation’s premier nonprofit organization exclusively dedicated to the promotion, advancement, development, and cultivation of the Latino arts and culture field. Founded in 1989 on the Westside of San Antonio, NALAC was born from a common vision shared by a group of Latinx arts leaders who recognized the need for advocacy to improve conditions for an under-capitalized Latino artistic community. Since its founding NALAC has awarded 2.8 million dollars in support of over 200,000 U.S Latino artists and cultural workers and organizations and has delivered programs that stabilize and energize the U.S. Latino arts and cultural sector throughout the nation.


Exhibit on US Latina ‘cholas’ opens in Albuquerque

Check out this article on a new exhibit in Albuquerque written by Russell Contreras for the Sentinel:

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A national Hispanic center is displaying a unique art exhibit on the chola — the working class, Mexican-American urban female often associated with gangs.

The National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque opened the “Que Chola Exhibition” on Friday with pieces by artists from New Mexico, Arizona, California, Texas, and Colorado.

The displays feature the evolution of the chola from the World War II-era to the contemporary figure trying to survive in poor neighborhoods. Using paintings, photography and sculptures, the exhibit attempts to cover images of the chola as an urban warrior, a mentor, a mother and political figure.

Cholas, or homegirls, often refers to a particular Latina subculture in the U.S. characterized by a tough demeanor and distinctive style. They are identified by their clothing ranging from flannel shirts and khaki pants to their dark eye makeup and indigenous-theme tattoos.

The image of the chola gained popularity in the late 1980s and early 1990s with movies like “Colors” and “Mi Vida Loca” (My Crazy Life).

In recent years, scholars have countered that the chola represents more than just gang activity. Latina scholars have argued that the chola’s image is a commentary of poverty in urban U.S. cities and symbolized a working-class Latina seeking to battle sexism.

Some Latina academics have playfully said on social media that “you can’t spell scholar without the word ‘CHOLA’.”

Curator Jadira Gurule said she agreed that the chola is more than a so-called dangerous female gang member linked to criminal activity. For many Latinas, Gurule said the chola also represents strength and perseverance.

“Many within our communities either were, or admired and wanted to emulate, the chola growing up,” Gurule said. “She also represents real people with real experiences. The chola is a persona developed in response to racism and sexism. To reduce her to a gang member is shallow.”

Pola Lopez, a Las Vegas, New Mexico, born artist who now lives in Los Angeles, said she was excited when she was asked to participate in the exhibit. “The chola…you can’t mess with her,” said Lopez. “She’s beautiful and represents us in many ways.”

Her painting, “Coatlicue and Chola,” features a homegirl leaning against a statue of an Aztec goddess.

Nanibah Chacon, a Navajo and Hispanic artist from Arizona, said she wanted to create an image of a chola if she had been represented in midcentury advertisements. Her painting, “Xicana Classic,” depicts a chola from the 1970s sitting on a red circle and smiling with confidence.

The exhibit, which runs until Aug. 4, is the latest attempt to create a new image around the chola and expand her meaning.

The Los Angeles-based gang intervention group Homeboy Industries, for example, sells clothing designed by former cholas and runs Homegirl Cafe — a restaurant with food prepared by former gang members gaining new skills. The hip cafe is an offshoot of social enterprises founded by Jesuit priest Greg Boyle.

And Art Laboe, a 93-year-old DJ based in Palm Springs, California, allows cholas every Sunday on his syndicated oldies show “The Art Laboe Connection Show” to call in and give dedications to their loved ones serving time in prison. Scholars and activists say the radio show helps humanize cholas since it allows listeners to hear cholas express emotions of love and pain.


Associated Press Writer Russell Contreras is a member of The Associated Press’ race and ethnicity team. Follow Contreras on Twitter at


This story corrects a previous version with the quote “you can’t spell scholar without the word ‘CHOLA’.”

Art & Life with Roman Martinez

Check out this interview with Roman Martinez from Voyage Houston:


Today we’d like to introduce you to Roman Martinez.

Roman, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
I was born in Dallas and moved to Houston before 1st grade. I grew up in Alief in the 80’s, When we 1st moved into the area, it wasn’t as diverse as it is today, not even close. My interest in art started pretty early as kid, drawing monsters and Star Wars characters, and I took a lot of lessons early on. All throughout my years in Alief I always had super engaging art teachers that took an interest in me and challenged me with different projects and showed me new techniques. It was in Middle school that the diversity really became relevant to me and how I started to perceive the world. Holub MS and Hastings HS were so diverse and it stretched all my preconceived notions and allowed me to emerge myself in different cultures, it Also encouraged me to really explore who I was as a Chicano/Mexican-American. Those early years would later become influential as my development as an artist later in life. After a few offers to go to some larger art schools in Chicago and New York, I decide to enroll at the Art Institute of Houston and avoid the cold weather. After I graduated, I took a slight 7-year hiatus from painting to work as a youth pastor.

I began doing large-scale murals while living in El Paso and would take any job that would offer me a challenge and the opportunity to try new techniques. I began to specialize in trompe l’oeil and had a lot of early success. After a few large high-profile jobs, I got bogged down in a residential job that really drained my enjoyment of painting. I took a break from painting a second time and went back to work as a youth pastor, that ended in a 2-year stint in Chiapas, Mexico. Being there re-kindled my passion for my culture and has had a profound lasting influence on my art. When I returned to the U.S., I began painting murals again and have been painting again full time since 2010. My current iteration of style of painting has been in development for the last 6 or so years after being on a ladder 20+ feet up in the air and wondering what would happen if I took a misstep, so I decided I needed to pursue art that I was able to create with both feet on the ground.

Can you give our readers some background on your art?
Living in Mexico and currently here on the border in El Paso, has really influenced my aesthetic. I’ve been a Huge Fan of David Alfarro Siquieros, Jose Clemente Orozco, and Diego Rivera, “The Big 3” and try to pull from their spirit and ideas behind their work. One of the biggest catalysts in my current style has been the street artist Banksy when asked about my style, I like to describe it as if Banksy was the Chicano Love child of Andy Warhol and Jackson Pollock. I use hand-cut stencils (mostly) and aerosol with house paint. The majority of my work is a Chicano vibe/slant on an existing trope or personality. My work is bright and colorful and has a sense of humor that I hope isn’t lost on people.

What responsibility, if any, do you think artists have to use their art to help alleviate problems faced by others? Has your art been affected by issues you’ve concerned about?
A large portion of my art reflects the current political climate, I don’t think art has changed much, other than the mediums used. some artists might paint happy little trees and sunny landscapes to escape the realities of the world we live in, and others tackle the issues head-on. I prefer the later. “Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.”- Banksy

“Artists use lies, to tell the truth, while politicians use them to cover the truth up.” -Every Hammond (V for Vendetta)

What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
They can Follow me on FB and IG. I’ve done the Downtown Bayou art festival and Dandy Warhol’s “May the 4th” art shows, as well as pop-up art, shows at local venues when I’m in town.

Contact Info:

  • Phone: 832-882-8801
  • Email:
  • Instagram: @romanmartinezartdesign
  • Facebook: @romanmartinezartdesign


Anyone near UCLA? This might be worth checking out!

Event Date:
Tuesday, February 12, 2019 –

4:00pm to 4:45pm
Event Location:
CSRC Library – 144 Haines Hall

Join Los Angeles-based Chicana artist Sandy Rodriguez for a talk about “Codex Rodriguez-Mondragón,” a series of bioregional maps and paintings she created addressing the intersection of history, color, medicine, and culture in a 16th century ethnographic research study in Mesoamerica by the Spanish Franciscan friar Bernardino de Sahagún. Rodriguez will discuss how she arrived at this body of work, including the role of field study, research, politics, botany, chemistry, interdisciplinary collaborations, civic engagements, and art history in her practice.

A related limited-edition catalog with contributions by Charlene Villaseñor Black, Ella Diaz and Ananda Cohen-Aponte, Adolfo Guzman-Lopez, and Todd Wingate will be available for purchase.

This event is organized by the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center.

This event is free and open to the public.



(W) Marco Lopez, Ivan Plaza
(A) Alessandro Micelli, Bryan Magnaye
(CA) Alessandro Micelli, Leo Colapietro
Price: $3.99

At the triumph of a centuries old galactic war, all that was left of the warriors were Solar and Super Astro. They headed off into space to never to be heard from again…or so they thought. After a millennia of intergalactic travels, their ship crashed on Earth. Their powers had vanished and they settled into their new mortal lives. Now, years later, a message from the deepest corner of the universe has interrupted their ordinary lives. A recent accident has released an immense destructive power back into the world, a power that they thought was lost forever. What epic adventure awaits them? Who’s attempting to contact them and how can they save not just our planet, but the universe itself?


By Christopher C. Hernandez, Comicosity


— Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1982 Nobel Lecture

Gabriel Garcia Marquez recognized the importance of Latin America’s self-representation in storytelling. Marquez points out that Latinx peoples have a history of our stories being told for us and about us, but rarely by us. It’s an important realization that is still trying to be impressed upon both Latinx and non-Latinx peoples alike.

Only in the past few years are we starting to see some headway made in the U.S. as to how our cultures…our lifestyles…our stories are portrayed in entertainment media. This fundamental blasé attitude towards representation of Latinx stories is what makes works like Tales from La Vida: A Latinx Comics Anthology monumentally important.

The importance of Tales from La Vida lies, in part, with the nakedness of which each creator’s confession is presented to the reader. Anthology editor Frederick Aldama’s charge to the authors gave life to the spirit of the book: share a hinge moment in their life as a Latinx. There are many important events in our lives that, if allowed, can take part in determining how we react in any given situation. Some events in our lives have the power to completely reshape the way we think about our world. The stories shared in Tales do exactly that for the authors. These stories are those in which the protagonist is set apart from the rest of the world and yet brought home to where they belong. They are moments of plurality. We are set apart from others and at the same time made part of a larger whole. Aldama’s simple thesis enables the participants to beautifully capture and release these truths to the readers.

Whether or not it was easy for the authors to share these intimate “ah-ha” crossroads, they are indeed laid bare and done so passionately in word and illustration. In some stories the reader can even tangibly discern the struggle of the creator’s story unfold. The storytelling is that good. Some authors use simple methods and others use more nuanced and symbolistic devices but all of them hit home runs. No one entry, though, “beats” another for best story of the anthology. They are all equally weighted. Whether it is about paths not taken, gender issues, sexuality issues, family issues, discrimination issues, or culture issues, each carries the impact of being life changing for the creator.


The anthology is also a form of self-therapy for both creator and reader alike. As each creator works through, or shares what they have already solved, it does the same for readers. They may identify with some or all the issues presented. For some readers it may be the answer they have been looking for, or it may unlock a path towards finding that answer. For others it may reveal a hidden issue that has yet to be stumbled upon. This works on both an individual and on a group level. The stories group us together with the collective feelings of our elders and peers. They impress upon us the emotional impact others have faced because they are just like us. We may never face those same moments, but we do become affected by them by proxy.

Again, the frankness of the stories aides in this but also the variety of the way the stories are presented. For just as many different issues are dealt with there are an equal amount of art styles rendered. The styles are realistic, photo-realistic, sketches, paintings, cartoon-y, and abstract. There is artwork from seasoned creators and new comers, but all are people baring their souls, as every artist does, for other people and other times to see. Art has a way of reaching people that cannot, do not, or will not be reached. It involuntarily stirs the mind like a masterfully composed violin piece. It forces people to react. While words can be glazed over, the language of art only takes a fleeting glance and it’s there in the brain. The subconscious takes that input and puts it to work. Complex messages and emotions can instantly be imparted to the observer with thin or thick strokes, color, black and white, or blank page with just a few words. Whether or not the creators consciously endeavor to attach this meaning to the art it still can’t help but be there. The art of Tales is so varied and impactful that just a glance at its pages captures the reader’s attention, pulling them in for more.

Reading these stories feels very personal and nostalgic even, like flipping through the pages of a family photo album. Readers may feel both the urge to hide it away—protecting it from the prying eyes of strangers—and the prideful urge to show it to everyone. Like the chismosa Tia that wants to tell all the stories of her family to a newly married-in addition. It is, however, extremely important that Tales from La Vida be shared with everyone. It is up to each reader, of course, to do what they will with Tales but it can be used as a guidebook for a better understanding of Latinx peoples.


Of all the stories and creators, Jules Rivera’s piece, “The Continuum”, stands out amidst the others as possibly representing the overall message. Her own experience is unique and yet communal at the same time, but it is her conclusion that helps bring the rest of the voices of the anthology into focus. “The Latina experience is not one moment. It’s all the moments.” While Aldama’s original guidelines require the storyteller to pick one moment, it is the sum of all the moments within the pages of Tales that makes us who we are. Just as the human body is made up of different systems, organs, and cells: collectively they make one person. Rivera continues: “I am Jules Rivera and that’s what it means to be a Latina.” The experiences have and will continue to shape us as we move through this world just as Rivera’s art shows her travel down the path of life. Do we let those experience control us, or do we control them as she now does?

In 1562 a Franciscan monk burned 27 illustrated Mayan books that contained our ancestor’s way of life and later set about interpreting our reality through his own patterns. Centuries later we are still trying to relearn what was lost by this act. Collecting our own stories in anthologies like Tales reincarnates the traditions of our forebearers.

These are all our stories. Every single one. We have dealt with all these issues at some point or another because we are Latinx. We are descendants of the indigenous peoples of the Americas—mixed, colonized, and gentrified with foreign blood and ideas. We are who we are now because of the past 500 years of key moments. Because of this we need to hold on to and uplift collections like Tales. They are crucial to propagating our stories and our lives.

Gay San Antonio Artist Jose Villalobos Earns Grant from the Joan Mitchell Foundation

Original post by Marco Aquino found here:
The Joan Mitchell Foundation recently announced the 2018 recipients of its Painters and Sculptors grants, and this year’s list includes none other than Jose Villalobos of San Antonio, the lone Texas artist to receive $25,000 in unrestricted funds.

San Antonio artists who’ve previously received the grant include Ruth Buentello and Ana Fernandez, who both won the award in 2017, and Vincent Valdez in 2015. As reported by ARTnews, this year’s list of winners (25 total from across the country) is among the most diverse with 70 percent of the recipients identifying as female and approximately 80 percent as non-white.

Speaking to ARTnews, Joan Mitchell Foundation CEO Christa Blatchford said, “As demonstrated by the diversity of this group of grant recipients, we work with a spectrum of artists, whose practices, backgrounds, and careers vary widely, but we hear consistently that day-to-day financial support — the kind that rarely makes headlines — remains critical.”

“It was surreal that I was selected,” Villalobos told the San Antonio Current. “When I got nominated to apply, for some reason I had this self-doubt. But that goes to show that the work speaks for itself. I feel very honored to be among the recipients for this award … Amy Sherald has been a past recipient … Peter Saul … you have Ana Fernandez. This reassures what I’m doing and I feel like someone is looking at my work.”

Currently, the artist is working on several pieces that will make their debut over the coming months in various exhibitions across the country including “Queer Craft” at the University of Minnesota and an upcoming performance at the McNay.

Born along the U.S.-Mexico border in the city of El Paso, Villalobos is largely influenced by the merging of cultures and takes a particular interest in the use of language and its ever-evolving nature. His work explores gender norms, gay identity and the effects of an overbearing patriarchal society. He is a 2016 graduate of the University of Texas at San Antonio and currently a resident artist and co-director at Clamp Light Artist Studios and Gallery.

Here’s a look back at some of Villalobos’ most memorable work of the last two years.

De la Misma Piel

In 2016, Villalobos was among five artists selected to receive the Artist Lab fellowship grant and participated in the Artist Lab exhibition at the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center. For this show, Villalobos created a series of leather belts, each inscribed with a Spanish-language derogatory term meaning “gay,” on the area of the belt typically reserved for a family name. Among the belts was one that read Maricón. Another one read Jotito. Villalobos, who came out as gay in his early 20s, grew up hearing these slurs from both friends and family members.

Hanging on the Guadalupe’s gallery wall, the series of belts appeared nondescript until closer inspection. Hiding from view, the underside of each belt was painted in pink. Titled De la Misma Piel (Of the Same Skin), the series references the artist’s sexuality while deconstructing a symbol of masculinity often found along the U.S.-Mexico border. The series draws attention to the pain one might feel when on the receiving end of these derogatory terms.

On the popular website, a guide for choosing the perfect belt states, “Belts are worn for both function and style. A seemingly small accessory, they can have a surprisingly large impact on the impression you make.” For Mexican-American men who have adopted a Western aesthetic or Norteño style, the leather belt is often a symbol of pride, and its use is one way to assert masculinity.

A key component of the Western-style belt is an oversized buckle. Along with this series, Villalobos presented a series of belt buckles, each consisting of a capital letter that makes up the word JOTO (meaning fag). De la Misma Piel marks the beginning of Villalobos’ explorations into men’s fashions and deconstructing of masculine symbols by repurposing Western attire.

Speaking to the Current’s sister publication Out In SA in 2017, Villalobos reminisced on his early beginnings in fashion. “When I was a lot younger my mother used to always say that I was going to be a fashion designer and I would always deny it,” he said. “I would always say ‘No, that’s gay!’ because I was hiding myself. … I’ve always loved creating something that goes over a person, clothing and accessories and things like that. … I think my goal is altering certain things … to change the perspective people have of certain clothing. It’s like bending reality.”

Sin la S

In 2017, the Austin-based Mexic-Arte Museum brought together eight emerging artists from around the state for the 22nd installment of its Young Latino Artists exhibition. Guest curated by Alana Coates, the exhibition’s themes centered on some of today’s prominent issues — from widespread economic inequality to increased racial tensions along the U.S.-Mexico border — while also exploring the ever-broadening topic of gender. Most striking was Villalobos’ installation, Sin la S, which featured a series of suspended cowboy hats “meant to explore the dichotomy of feminine and masculine materials within cultural symbols.”

In the installation, 10 cowboy hats hung from the gallery ceiling in a flamboyant yet elegant display that seemed to allude to the fragility of the Mexican-American male ego. “It’s almost like poking fun at it, but it’s also this way of breaking down and deconstructing these symbols of masculinity,” Villalobos told Out In SA. “Especially something that has power. … I always see this in my family … the men wear these hats or sombreros as a symbol of power.”

Here, the layers of fringe draped around the edges of the cowboy hats transformed these otherwise ordinary objects into an outrageous spectacle blurring the lines between what is considered feminine and what is considered masculine.

For many men on both sides of the border, the sombrero has become tied to the idea of manhood. A tradition that spans cultures and stems hundreds of years back, it has been adapted by American men as part of a contemporary cowboy uniform and continues to be popularized by musicians and entertainers. After the Spanish arrived in Mexico in 1519, ranches were established and horses were imported from Spain. The native vaqueros were born (what we now call cowboys) and their traditions spread throughout Mexico and as far south as Argentina.

In Sin la S, each hat is assigned a jewel in the shape of a letter from the Villalobos name, save for the letter “S” which was markedly missing. Beneath each hat was a small pile of soil where, symbolically, the hat could plant its seed — except for a pink hat devoid of its letter, preventing the Villalobos name from being spelled in full. Translated from Spanish, the title of the work literally means “without the S.”

“The work is about my inability to pass on my last name in the tradition my family wants, which would be by giving a child to a woman,” Villalobos said. “It becomes kind of like a broken chain.”

At the exhibition’s opening, which set an attendance record for the museum, Villalobos arrived dressed to the nines in a white cowboy outfit with the word “Macho” inscribed on the back. Just underneath that term was the word “Maricón” obscured by fringe. A Spanish term that also translates as “fag,” maricón might seem an odd choice to juxtapose against the term macho. But it was a bold statement and Villalobos’ decision to arrive in costume gave the installation a performance aspect as well.

“I think it just shows how versatile he is,” Coates explained. “Jose was trained in ceramics and his powerful installation work in YLA really demonstrated his ability to take his conceptual practice to new heights … His outfit was just as carefully and ingeniously designed … from the hidden text under the fringe and the glitter on the boot heels.”

We Have Always Been

In the summer of 2018, Villalobos participated in “We Are,” the first exhibition of LGBT artists to be presented by the City of San Antonio. Bringing together both established and emerging artists, the exhibition marked a historic moment for the community at large.

In his installation We Have Always Been, Villalobos presented an intricately bedazzled horse saddle alongside a pair of cowboy boots. Hanging in layers underneath the boots (which were also strung from the ceiling), were the boots’ detached soles with colorful pink and yellow flowers and a green mockingbird hiding in between.

A label for the work read, “In We Have Always Been, Villalobos uses traditional masculine objects typically glorified by Latino men to challenge paternal-centered narratives by incorporating a materiality that softens the virility; an interstitial space where [machismo] is the delicate signifier.” The work’s title suggests gay men have existed since the beginning of time, despite being considered “in fashion” during the modern era.

The title of the work also alludes to the fact that the Southwest, where cowboys roam free, had been occupied by Mexicans long before the U.S. annexed the area from Texas to California after the Mexican-American War (1846-1848), America’s first imperial war.

In an era when Mexicans and Mexican Americans are often vilified and made to feel like foreigners in their own land, We Have Always Been is a gentle reminder of Mexican-American history. For all his efforts challenging power structures and patriarchal systems, Villalobos’ work remains unapologetically Mexican.

Latino Art Now! in Houston on April 4-6th!

On April 4-6, 2019, the Latino Art Now! Conference: Sight Lines & Time Frames will take place at the University of Houston Student Center South. LAN! will explore and celebrate the activities and practices of local and national Latino and Latin American visual artists and organizations throughout Houston.

Now in its 6th edition, the Latino Art Now! Conference is recognized as the leading forum for visual artists, art historians, curators, collectors, and educators.

Mari Carmen Ramírez, Wortham Curator of Latin American Art at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, will deliver the keynote address.

Latino Art Now! is organized by the Inter-University Program for Latino Research (IUPLR) headquartered at the Center for Mexican American Studies at the University of Houston and is sponsored by the Office of the Provost.

Additional sponsors include: Southwest Airlines, the City of Houston, Houston Endowment, University of Houston, Smithsonian Latino Center, University of Houston-Downtown, Houston Arts Alliance, Houston First, Visit Houston, ClearChannel Outdoor, and Allegiance Bank.

SA’s International Latina Feminist Zine ‘St. Sucia’ Celebrates Final Issue

Check out the original article by Sam Sanchez here…

St. Sucia, the international Latina feminist zine that originated in San Antonio in 2014, will be celebrating the publication of its 14th and final issue on January 5 at Hitones.

During the last four years, St. Sucia’s art director Isabel Ann Castro and editor Natasha Hernandez have distinguished themselves by creating a widely-praised publication with submissions from around the globe.

On the magazine’s website, its creators explain to potential contributors: “Our goal is to share our stories, including the ones from mujeres who don’t consider themselves writers, artists, or poets. We want to share the stories we don’t tell, but other mujeres need to hear. We want to encourage other mujeres to express themselves. We are a space for gente who identify as mujer, in any way they choose to. Mujer is queer, mujer is straight, it’s political, it’s flaca, it’s gordita, it’s a grito, it’s a mouthed curse, it’s a walk alone at night. Mujer is a million things and so are you. Tell us about it.”

Castro and Hernandez told the San Antonio Current that ending the zine’s run was “a decision they reached after long consideration to pursue other creative projects, such as independent zines, comics and a web series they plan to launch with the help of other San Antonio artists, including musician Alyson Alonzo.”

The work has paid off. St. Sucia is available in university libraries around the country and is on syllabi for courses on Chicano/a Studies, Women’s Studies, Gender Studies, Latino Contemporary Literature and has been the subject of academic study and theses. It can also be found in university archives including the international Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection.

Looking toward the future, Castro and Hernandez are planning workshops, organizing events like the San Anto Zine Fest and guest lecturing at universities across the U.S.

Still, parting is sweet sorrow. “I’m really sad,” Hernandez told the Current. “It’s been a part of my identity for a while.”



Original article by Dana Forsythe for can be found here:


Groundbreaking, epic, and heartfelt, the quintessential indie comic Love and Rockets is as relevant today as it was when Mario, Gilbert (aka Beto), and Jaime Hernandez self-published the first issue in 1981. A blend of sci-fi, telenovela, superhero tales, comics, jokes, and short stories, the magazine was worlds away from anything anyone, especially Marvel or DC, was publishing during those days.

Not only did Love and Rockets usher in a new age of independent comic books, but it also broke ground with stories featuring marginalized voices and characters from the LGBTQ and Latinx community. By the time DC and Marvel had introduced Latinx characters like Sunspot, Firebird, and Bushmaster in the early ’80s, Margarita Luisa “Maggie” Chascarrillo, Esperanza “Hopey” Leticia Glass and the fiery Luba were living out real lives in the fictional towns of Hoppers and Palomar in Love and Rockets.

Over the last 27 years, Los Bros Hernandez’s characters have evolved and even aged alongside their creators. For example, Maggie and Hopey are now in their late 50s with significant others. If Peter Parker lived in Palomar, he would be 72 and, quite possibly, years into a well-deserved retirement. Utilizing inventive storytelling and compelling line art to produce universal stories, the Hernandez brothers showcased their experience growing up in Latino neighborhoods in California.

Love and Rockets #4

Love and Rockets #4

Artists from R. Crumb to Trina Robbins, Moebius to Adrian Tomine, Neil Gaiman to Alan Moore, Matt Fraction to Alison Bechdel and Kristin Hersh have all cited the Hernandez brothers as influences. For many Latinx comic book creators and fans, the book was revolutionary.

Eric Reynolds, Fantagraphics Associate Publisher and editor of the Love and Rockets series, said the comic arrived at a time when mainstream fare was “moribund, with content catered almost exclusively to young, white males.”

“Their comics, populated by women, people of color, gay and bisexual characters, were completely sui generis and blew the doors open for the medium of comics, ushering in the ‘alternative comics’ movement of the 1980s and ’90s,” he told SYFY WIRE.

Love and Rockets #1 (Jamie Hernandez)

Love and Rockets #1 (Jamie Hernandez)

Former Marvel Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso was growing up in San Francisco in the early ’80s when he read his first copy of Love and Rockets.

“To see Latino characters portrayed in comics at all, let alone characters as complex as the ones that both Jaime and Beto put down on the page, was transformative,” he told SYFY WIRE this week. “And the fact that so many of the characters lived at the intersection of SoCal Punk Rock and Lowrider culture — it was like they were making a comic just for me.”

Alonso said stories like Jaime’s “Death of Speedy Ortiz” and “Flies on the Ceiling” had a profound impact on him as a reader and a creator.

“I can’t think of a page with more emotional resonance than the one where Speedy’s ghost comes back to say goodbye to his friends, ending with Izzy waking up to an empty room,” Alonso said. “And when Izzy goes to Mexico to do some spiritual detox, the man she falls in love with is a dead ringer for my father when he was young.”

Heartbreak Soup #8

Heartbreak Soup #8

Representation revolution

The importance of representation in comic books is best illustrated by Jaime Hernandez himself, who said the idea to incorporate his real-life experiences living in SoCal into Love and Rockets didn’t even come to him until he was a teenager. Having grown up with comic books courtesy of his mother and older brother Mario, both Gilbert and Jaime read and drew inspiration from Marvel and DC heroes, along with Dennis the Menace and Archie comics.

“I didn’t see many comics from Mexico so I mostly grew up on the American stuff,” Jaime told SYFY WIRE. “Growing up, wanting to do our own comics, we created characters but they were all white. That seemed normal. Kind of like, well, these are the characters and this one’s name is Bill Jackson. I just didn’t think about it.”

At the same time, the Hernandez brothers were growing up in a Mexican neighborhood in America, soaking up the telenovelas, listening to music from the barrio and hanging out with their friends

“We’d be doing all this cool stuff, hanging out, going lowriding, cruising on Sunday night. That stuff is fun. And I thought, ‘How come we never put those in the comics? I figured, ‘Why don’t I change this one Maggie character into a Mexican girl.’ It was one of those things we noticed one day,” Jaime said. “The more we did that the more we were able to put our life into it. That’s why I started liking to do the characters’ real lives more than creating a superhero universe.”

Love and Rockets #26

Love and Rockets #26

Kristen Parraz, Jennifer Lopez and Sara Bazan co-host the comic book podcast Comadres y Comics, which highlights female and Latinx creators and fans in the industry. On their very first episode, the California-based trio discussed Love and Rockets.

Bazan first heard of the comic in high school when a friend said she reminded him of the character “Izzy” Ortiz Ruebens.

“He lent me some single issues of Love and Rockets and there indeed were Latina characters that looked, acted and sounded like me,” she told SYFY WIRE. “It wasn’t until we read Maggie the Mechanic for our first episode of Comadres y Comics that the impact that this representation had on me resonated. As an adult, I was able to better comprehend what seeing someone who looked like me and represented my culture in media as a teen actually meant. Turns out it meant everything.”

What struck Parraz, co-owner of Hi De Ho Comics in Santa Monica, was how genuinely strong and independent the women of Love and Rockets are written and, just as importantly, how they were drawn.

Jamie Hernandez (Courtesy Photo via Fantagraphics)

Jamie Hernandez (Courtesy Photo via Fantagraphics)

“The female figures differed character to character with there being all shapes and sizes,” she told SYFY WIRE. “Having only read modern comics before reading Love and Rockets it struck me how much of an impact it made on me to see the female form drawn accurately and not for the male gaze. Interestingly, the sci-fi stories stuck out to me the most because it was the first time I had been exposed to Latinx characters in a sci-fi story.”

Love and Rockets #18

Love and Rockets #18

Placing women in non-traditional roles was an ongoing theme in Love and Rockets and way before its time, Bazan said. One recent example of a book that carries some Hernandez Bros influence is Lowriders in Space by Cathy Camper and Raul (Gonzalez) The Third, she said. As co-creator of that series — which follows three anthropomorphic animal friends chasing their dream of building a lowrider against the backdrop of the borderland of Mexico — Gonzalez III has made a career of depicting Latinx life, especially along the U.S./Mexican border, with his art.

Much like Hernandez, Gonzalez III thought all heroes were meant to be “white dudes with tights” so that’s how he initially drew them. It wasn’t until college when he found Love and Rockets.

“Suddenly I found myself working in a comic book shop and Maggie, Luba, the Death of Speedy, wrestling Abuelas popped out at me in a way that was familiar in a whole different way,” Gonzalez told SYFY WIRE. “I felt like I was reading something personal. It felt like my Mams novelas via Mexican Archie comics. I saw myself and my barrio reflected in a way I’d never seen in comics before.”

In the way fellow El Pasoans Gaspar and Luis Jimenez paved the way for Gonzalez’s art career, he said, Los Bros Hernandez showed him through comic books that being Mexican American was something to be proud of.

“They illustrated stories about Latinx culture and created an opus that is rich in both personal and cultural history,” he said.


Love and Rockets #31

Love and Rockets #31

Independent influencers

A comic book retailer, Parraz said she’s seen the influence of Los Bros Hernandez on the independent comic market directly.

‘There was no clear independent market before Love and Rockets but over time, with their success, the Hernandez Brothers helped to grow the market share of indie comics,” she said. “So much so that indie comics now make up close to one-third of the comic book industry market. That doesn’t even account for the individual showing up to local conventions and zine fests, self-publishing and selling by word of mouth, a tactic largely used by the Hernandez Brothers in the early days.”

According to Gilberto Hernandez, he and Jaime have served as reluctant role models, of sorts.

“If we could do it, why not others,” he told SYFY WIRE. “In my eyes, there’s the mainstream artists who want to make the best Batman comic ever, with cleverness and detailed art. The indie artists tend to come up with stories about themselves and the readers want to see themselves in the comics. I’m in the middle there somewhere.”

Love and Rockets #49

Love and Rockets #49

Although he discovered Love and Rockets later in life, Sebastian Kadlecik took inspiration from the series before creating his own Latinx-inspired comic book, Quincethe story of a Latina teen, Lupe, who discovers her superpowers on the day of her quinceañera, or 15th birthday.

When networking and researching for his book, the name Los Bros Hernandez kept coming up in his discussions with Latinx comic creators and fans.

Gilberto Hernandez (Courtesy Photo via Fantagraphics)

Gilberto Hernandez (Courtesy Photo via Fantagraphics)

“I appreciate how we are dropped into this interesting familiar world with so much Latinx culture and yet there’s this otherworldly sci-fi element,” he said. “I love seeing punks, chicanos, robots, vatos, and hover bikes all living in the same world.”

Kadlecik said the storytelling in Love and Rockets continues to inspire and creatively challenge him.

“I love seeing the integration of Latinx culture in a futuristic world without there needing to be a big explanation as to why– there doesn’t need to be an explanation,” he said. “We exist. We have existed. We will continue to do so.”

When Domino writer Gail Simone was a kid, Love and Rockets was the comic that showed her what comics could be, she told SYFY WIRE. Not one to get starstruck, Simone said that all changed when she met Los Bros Hernandez at Excalibur Comics, for Wonder Woman Day, benefitting a shelter for victims of domestic abuse.

“A lot of it flew right over my head, but there would be scenes of gut-busting comedy, heart-rending romance and the lyricism of real-life worlds I had never before experienced in any media,” she said. “I was somehow seated at a table right next to these two titans, these brilliant, brilliant creators, and I was just almost completely unable to speak. But it turned out that Gilbert and Jaime are as kind as they are gifted, and they welcomed me like a colleague, they could not have been nicer. Gilbert drew me a Black Canary sketch, and Jaime drew me a Wonder Woman sketch, and they treated me as a sister, and even years later, it puts a smile in my heart that can’t be contained.”