The Getty Foundation recently awarded ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives at the USC Libraries a research grant to develop a retrospective exhibition on the Mexican-American artist Edmundo “Mundo” Meza as part of the Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA initiative. Through a series of thematically linked exhibitions, LA/LA aims to take a fresh look at vital and vibrant traditions in Latino and Latin America art.
The Mundo Meza exhibition, scheduled for 2017, will be the first large-scale examination of this underrecognized LGBTQ artist. It features works by Meza—and related materials from the ONE Archives—that have not been seen since his death in 1985 due to complications from AIDS.
Curator David Frantz will organize the exhibition, working closely with ONE Archives director Joseph Hawkins and curatorial advisors Professor Macarena Gómez-Barris of the American studies and ethnicity department at USC Dornsife College and Professor C. Ondine Chavoya of the art department and Latina/o studies program at Williams College.
Mundo Meza, Unknown (from “Silver Lake Terrace Drawings” sketchbook), 1979. Ink on paper, 8 x 6 inches. Cyclona Collection. ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives at the USC Libraries. Courtesy of Pat Meza and Elizabeth Signorelli
Anthony Friedkin, Mundo and Jim, East Los Angeles, 1972. From "The Gay Essay." Gelatin silver print, 14 x 11 inches.
Frantz describes Meza’s legacy and the inspiration for the planned exhibition. “Meza grew up in East Los Angeles as part of a generation of Chicano conceptualist artists that included Gronk and Robert Legorreta/Cyclona,” said Frantz, “with whom he staged confrontational performances in East L.A. in the 1960s and 1970s.”
In addition, said Frantz, “Meza’s multidisciplinary practice encompassed performance, painting, design, fashion, and installation, and his work addressed the social and political upheavals of the 1960s and 1970s with wit and campy extravagance. Many early works also responded to his contemporaries' use of Mesoamerican imagery, such as his queer ‘return to Aztlán’ that co-opted this revered Chicano visual symbol. The exhibition aims to contextualize Meza within both the Chicano and gay liberation movements and to position sexual difference as a crucial, yet largely unwritten, facet of Chicano art history.”
The $95,000 Getty Foundation grant will support research and exhibition planning by the curatorial team over the next two years. ONE Archives participated in the Getty Foundation’s first Pacific Standard Time initiative in 2011 with a three-part exhibition, Cruising the Archive: Queer Art and Culture in Los Angeles, 1945-1980, curated by Frantz and Mia Locks.
Using the collaborative approach that characterized the Getty’s original Pacific Standard Time, LA/LA will encompass dozens of organizations across Southern California in partnership with colleagues and institutions across Latin America. For more information, visit www.pacificstandardtime.org.