Raspa-shaped art toys, alternative Latino zines, and chola-fied flygirls who poured drinks and danced cumbias set the stage for the release party put on by Puro Chingón Collective Saturday. Oh, and of course piñatas. “You can’t have a party without a piñata,” said collective member Claudia Aparicio-Gamundi. This past weekend the art collective Puro Chingón Collective celebrated its second year being together, released the fourth installment of their DIY magazine ChingoZine, and launched their first line of art toys named Chingolandia.
There’s something about beating the crap out of a candy-filled papier mâché Dora the Explorer while blindfolded that brings out the best of a party. Piñatas at Tex-Mex parties create an atmosphere of uninhibited fun, which is exactly what the Puro Chingón Collective embodies. Since 2012, with the release of the first edition of ChingoZine, Puro Chingón Collective has infused its creative pursuits with an air that lacks pretension, while highlighting relevant, accessible art from a community often excluded from traditional arts arenas.
Claudia Zapata, James Huizar and Claudia Aparicio-Gamundi are the goofy trio of Austinites that make up Puro Chingón. They act like cousins waiting for their turn to retell some embarrassing story about one another and met while working at local Austin museum Mexic-Arte. They are a disciplined group continuously thinking of ways to expose the arts already embedded in Latino communities. The first product of this collective was ChingoZine, (not to be confused with Chingo Bling) a DIY magazine that publishes doodles, drawings, and artistic imaginings of Latino creatives.
ChingoZine was the first and still is the only Latino zine to come out of Austin, which is funny because Austin is by nature an artsy city. Puro Chingón said, “There’s not an outlet for us. There’s nothing that permits us as brown people to participate in the art scene that everybody else is participating in.” Claudia Zapata, the editor for ChingoZine, talked about this exclusion and sometimes even racism regarding Latinos in artistic institutions. As a curator and historian she knows Latinos are constantly omitted or misrepresented in history, and when they are included, the work is often cast as this exoticized “other.” In many ways, the Latino artistic atmosphere is stifled by tropes and stereotypes. Zapata says ChingoZine highlights a group of people that don’t get enough exposure and allows them to create their own imagery with a “very specific balance of multiculturalism that doesn’t seem strained or artificial.”
ChingoZine aims to establish a space where Latino artists can build. Zapata says she wants history to show a varied, nuanced and truthful representation of what kind of art Latinos make. “We want to show that we weren’t just doing luchadores for a Día de los Muertos show at a cultural institution. We we’re doing zines that were alternative, that we’re talking about transnational exchanges and border imagery.” The content within ChingoZines are indeed varied and definitely challenge your idea of what could be dubbed “Latino art.”
ChingoZine’s logo plays off Lowrider magazine with gradient lettering, sexy tattooed sad girls and vintage Chevrolets. Inside you’ll find a range of graphics by artists whose styles run the gamut– an illustration of a rockabilly tribal dancer, a double-headed Elvira, or an elaborately shadowed portrait of a tattooed man. It’s an archive of the inane and sometimes genius ideas hidden in sketchbooks of people who might not even consider themselves artists.
ChingoZine releases issues of their zine twice a year, and they now have a toy line called Chingolandia. The first edition of 3 hand-painted resin toys Don Raspa (my favorite,) Mapache Bear, and the Great State of Tejas are all available on their site.
Photo: Whitney Devin
Puro Chingón was born out of the frustration with arts institutions and their lack of relevant content concerning pan-Latinos. This collective and their zine can be seen as a way to extract artistic content that already exists in our communities, so check them out on Facebook and Tumblr. Buy the zine or prints of the work, get inspired or even submit your drawings to Puro Chingón. They’d love to see your work!