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  • Wednesday, March 18, 2009
    Ry Cooder's El Chávez Ravine on Display at San Antonio Art Museum
    San Antonio Museum of Art

    In 2004, Ry Cooder commissioned Vincent Valdez, an artist based in San Antonio, Texas, to paint a mural, on a refurbished 1953 Chevy ice cream truck, inspired by the Los Angeles Chicano community of Chávez Ravine, whose neighborhood was razed to make way for Dodger Stadium in the late 1950s. The community and its displacement is the subject of Cooder's 2004 album Chávez Ravine, the first in his California trilogy, which also includes My Name Is Buddy from 2007 and last year's I, Flathead. The truck, whose body had been transformed by the Dukes Car Club in LA, also took the name El Chávez Ravine. It is now at the center of a special exhibit in Valdez's hometown, at the San Antonio Museum of Art, that includes a short documentary film about and photographs of the neighborhood, and runs through August 2.

    The San Antonio Current's Elaine Wolff sees a distinct link to the affected community's cultural roots in Valdez's means of expressing the events depicted on Cooder's album. She writes:

    The use of a Mexican-American art form that celebrates perseverance and ingenuity in the pursuit of America’s elusive promise makes perfect sense here, and Valdez’s trademark early 20th-century romantic realism ... translates cinematically to the truck’s hard surfaces. Historical events such as the forcible removal of the neighborhood’s last holdouts and pastoral views of modest woodframe houses and mailboxes nestled along dirt lanes roll by like movie stills in indigo-tinged black-and-white. Scheming politicians who pulled a public-housing bait-and-switch on the Chávez Ravine families appear in lurid pinks and oranges that match the acid candy hues of the LA sunset backdrop. The overall effect is Chinatown noir, but touching details—a birdcage, pigeons on a wire, wildflowers and cacti overtaking doorsteps, an overturned pot of tulips—remind us that the portraits commemorate real struggles.

    Read Wolff's complete exhibit review, visit sacurrent.com. For information on the exhibit and related events, including a free public conversation with the artist on March 24, visit samuseum.org.

    Journal Articles:Artist News

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Ry Cooder's El Chávez Ravine on Display at San Antonio Art Museum

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on March 18, 2009 - 11:47am
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Wednesday, March 18, 2009 - 15:00
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In 2004, Ry Cooder commissioned San Antonio artist Vincent Valdez to paint a mural, on a refurbished 1953 Chevy ice cream truck, inspired by the LA Chicano community of Chávez Ravine, whose neighborhood was razed to make way for Dodger Stadium. The community is the subject of Cooder's 2004 album Chávez Ravine. The truck also took the name El Chávez Ravine and is now at the center of a special exhibit at the San Antonio Museum of Art.

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In 2004, Ry Cooder commissioned Vincent Valdez, an artist based in San Antonio, Texas, to paint a mural, on a refurbished 1953 Chevy ice cream truck, inspired by the Los Angeles Chicano community of Chávez Ravine, whose neighborhood was razed to make way for Dodger Stadium in the late 1950s. The community and its displacement is the subject of Cooder's 2004 album Chávez Ravine, the first in his California trilogy, which also includes My Name Is Buddy from 2007 and last year's I, Flathead. The truck, whose body had been transformed by the Dukes Car Club in LA, also took the name El Chávez Ravine. It is now at the center of a special exhibit in Valdez's hometown, at the San Antonio Museum of Art, that includes a short documentary film about and photographs of the neighborhood, and runs through August 2.

The San Antonio Current's Elaine Wolff sees a distinct link to the affected community's cultural roots in Valdez's means of expressing the events depicted on Cooder's album. She writes:

The use of a Mexican-American art form that celebrates perseverance and ingenuity in the pursuit of America’s elusive promise makes perfect sense here, and Valdez’s trademark early 20th-century romantic realism ... translates cinematically to the truck’s hard surfaces. Historical events such as the forcible removal of the neighborhood’s last holdouts and pastoral views of modest woodframe houses and mailboxes nestled along dirt lanes roll by like movie stills in indigo-tinged black-and-white. Scheming politicians who pulled a public-housing bait-and-switch on the Chávez Ravine families appear in lurid pinks and oranges that match the acid candy hues of the LA sunset backdrop. The overall effect is Chinatown noir, but touching details—a birdcage, pigeons on a wire, wildflowers and cacti overtaking doorsteps, an overturned pot of tulips—remind us that the portraits commemorate real struggles.

Read Wolff's complete exhibit review, visit sacurrent.com. For information on the exhibit and related events, including a free public conversation with the artist on March 24, visit samuseum.org.

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Ry Cooder, Chavez Ravine truck

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