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Exhibits will celebrate Latin American and Latino art in Orange County

This fall, Latin American and Latino art will sweep Southern California, as part of the Getty Foundation-funded exhibition series Pacific Standard Time: Los Angeles/Latin America.

Showcasing more than 1,100 artists from 45 countries in Latin America, North America and Europe at more than 70 museums and cultural centers from Santa Barbara to San Diego, PST: LA/LA will engage visitors in themes such as immigration, activism, gender, identity and globalism through a variety of media, including photography, paintings, performance art, sculpture and murals.

Here’s a look at the exhibitions happening in Orange County:

Chapman University: ‘Emigdio Vasquez and El Proletariado de Aztlan’

Chapman University will host “Emigdio Vasquez and El Proletariado de Aztlan,” which will feature the work of the late Orange County muralist Emigdio Vasquez.

The exhibition, which opens Sept. 13, centers around the mural “El Proletariado de Aztlan,” which Vasquez painted in 1979 as a graduate student at Cal State Fullerton on a building on North Cypress Street in Orange that is now owned by Chapman University.

The mural — which features various images of working-class people — had deteriorated in the nearly 40 years since he painted it, so Chapman worked with Vasquez’s son, Higgy Vasquez, to restore it, said Natalie Lawler, curator of art collections at the university.

Vasquez’s other works feature community members and prominent Mexican and American figures such as American labor leader Cesar Chavez.

“He’s very much about the history of Chicanos and how Chicanos have contributed to the United States,” Lawler said. “He was really interested in history and community.”

In conjunction with the mural, Chapman will also host an exhibition of Vasquez’s oil paintings, an exhibition about the history of Chicanos in Orange County, and a free mobile app that maps Vasquez’s more than 30 murals across the county — all of which were created with student input.

“We’re trying to help people get to know him because we feel like he should be a much bigger name here than he is,” Lawler said.

Chapman University is at One University Drive, Orange. For more information, call (714) 997-6815 or visit chapman.edu/arts/pacific-standard-time.aspx.

Laguna Art Museum: ‘California Mexicana: Missions to Murals, 1820-1930’

Laguna Art Museum will host “California Mexicana: Missions to Murals, 1820-1930,” an exhibition that uses paintings, posters and prints to trace the history of California as it transitioned from being part of Mexico to being the 31st state in the U.S.

“Visitors will get a real sense of what happened to California during that time of intense, radical transformation that took place in the 1840s and 1850s,” said Malcolm Warner, executive director of Laguna Art Museum. “We’re bringing together all the works of art — images, prints and paintings — to tell that story.”

One painting that will be of particular interest to visitors, Warner said, is Charles Christian Nahl’s “Grizzly Bear of California,” a watercolor from 1854 that later became the image of the bear on the California state flag.

The show, which opens Oct. 15, also includes depictions of battles from the Mexican-American War of 1848, Catholic missions, vaqueros — or Spanish cowboys — and also the works of muralists, including Laguna Beach painter Edgar Payne.

“California is full of reminders of the fact that this place had such an intimate connection to Mexico,” said Warner. “That face should be very interesting, not just for people of Latino heritage, but for all of us who live in California.”

Laguna Art Museum is located at 307 Cliff Drive, Laguna Beach. For more information, call (949) 494-8971 or visit lagunartmuseum.org.

UC Irvine: ‘Aztlan to Magulandia: The Journey of Chicano Artist Gilbert “Magu” Lujan’

UC Irvine’s University Art Galleries will put on “Aztlan to Magulandia: The Journey of Chicano Artist Gilbert ‘Magu’ Lujan,” an exhibition dedicated to the late icon of the Chicano art movement.

Gilbert “Magu” Lujan, who earned a master of fine arts from UC Irvine in 1973, was the founder of Los Four, a Chicano artists’ collective that was the first to exhibit in a mainstream museum.

Lujan was known for using bright colors and images of lowriders, anthropomorphic dogs, pyramids, cactuses and people. His most famous work is a collection of public art featured in the Hollywood and Vine Metro station in Los Angeles.

“He makes this incredibly expressive, democratic and accessible art,” said Rhea Anastas, associate professor of art at UC Irvine and co-curator of the exhibition. “You don’t have to study art or know anything about art to respond to and view this art.”

The exhibition at UC Irvine, which opens Oct. 7, features 150 pieces, including drawings, paintings and sculpture.

“There’s a lot of humor and pleasure, in addition to all of the political effect that his work had,” Anastas said of Lujan, who died in 2011. “It’s a total joy to look at.”

UC Irvine’s University Art Galleries is located at 712 Arts Plaza, Irvine. For more information, call (949) 824-9854 or visit uag.arts.uci.edu.

Muzeo Museum and Cultural Center: ‘Deconstructing Liberty: A Destiny Manifested’

Muzeo Museum and Cultural Center in Anaheim will host “Deconstructing Liberty: A Destiny Manifested,” an exhibition opening Aug. 5 and showcasing 14 contemporary artists from eight countries through performance, installation, video and photography.

“The main idea is to try to create a dialogue between the community and the artists that are coming from all these countries about collective identity and the common issues that we have, like freedom and the environment,” said curator Marisa Caichiolo. “It’s an experimental and dynamic laboratory.”

One of the projects, by Eugenia Vargas Pereira of Chile, is the creation of a radio station inside the museum. “It’s about freedom of speech,” Caichiolo said. “The whole performance will be the artist having these radio talks, these free talks with the public — and they will be able to talk about anything that they want.”

Another project, by Andrea Juan of Argentina, is a simulated consulate that will create passports for visitors as a way to engage issues of immigration, borders and freedom.

“It’s an exhibition that traces the diversity we have here in America,” said Caichiolo. “Somehow people come here from many different lands, races and different perspectives and cultures, and you put all these aspirations and dreams together to create a nation.”

Muzeo Museum and Cultural Center is located at 241 S. Anaheim Blvd., Anaheim. For more information, call (714) 956-8936 or visit muzeo.org.

CAITLIN YOSHIKO KANDIL is a contributor to Times Community News.

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