Jose Delgado Zuniga
Music is the point of departure for my paintings; it channels my imagination, my memories,
with vivid visions and flashes of color. Each flash and each vision that I receive is complete;
filled with themes of happiness, sorrow, love, hope, hate, joy, and fear. My knowledge of music
specifically Mexican music was inherited through my father who is a Norteño musician that sings Corridos about love, tragedy, politics, spirituality and the everyday experience. My father’s musical talent has invigorated my approach to painting. In Mexican culture, Corridos are a form of folk art within oral history. Corridos have a similar function to the blues in African American culture in passing along oral history. It is important for me to use the Corrido as a strategy to construct a narrative in painting. When painting to music, I am the band conductor and image-maker, I am the sound that expresses color. Color is the trace of my memory, the stream of my experience, and gesture of my being.
I elevate musicians as heroes/heroines, givers of memory and healers. My thesis painting
“More Americans Than Gringos” portray four musicians playing Corridos. The abstract use of
color and form illustrates the sound ripples of the bass drum, the accent of the clarinet,
wheezing of the accordion and snore of the tuba. In the studio I listen to and draw inspiration from the Corrido Somos Mas Americanos from 2001 by the Norteño group Los Tigres del Norte; the lyrics from this song inspired the vision and text in the painting the song re-emphasize the time when the United States took Mexican land and marginalized Mexican Americans from American history. This omission has miseducated white Americans and is one of the many reasons for the rise of nationalism in our country. Cowboy boots, hats, and the thrum of the guitar conjure the image and spirit of my father. The mural-size painting of “La Cita” is from one Mexican entertainment venues from my hometown of Oxnard, CA; I recreated scenes from observing my father perform with his Norteño group. Cantinas such as La Cita hosted the social nightlife of the Mexican migrant communities in Oxnard, CA; theatrical and intimate. Migrant communities are rich and vibrant, congested and populated. My father performed for day labors, factory, and farm workers.
The paintings have an ambiance marked by intensity, stubbiness, and cluttered spaces like
the paintings of Diego Rivera, Orozco, Paul Cadmus and Archibald Motley. I recall the time
when I was a young boy my father, his band, the cantinas and club venues; those memories
are dense, opaque and at times translucent. Other works like “El Old Mexico”, and “El Miramar” “Tan-tan,” and the portraits of musicians were created on a much more private and thicker level.
The beat was different in the life of the paint, music, and scale. The color is more introverted
and muted the rhythm maintains static throughout fluidity of the paint those moments create the interior of my mind.
Presently, in our social-political climate brown is perceived as an immigrant, criminal, terrorist, and refugee. The attempt to make America “English only” resuscitates a traumatic time for Mexican Americans in American History when we were physically beaten in schools, jailed, and segregated for speaking Spanish. Work titles such as “More Americans than Gringos,” “Tug of war,” “Who will survive in America?” and “No tequila No mariachi” aims to inform the past, express the present and the possible future by creating vivid visions through musical works of art. The work “No Tequila No Mariachi” depicts mariachi crime fighters in an epic battle to put an end to the evils of ICE. Who will stand and protect immigrants? Who will protect their
families? Who will stand up for their rights? Certainly not Captain America, Wonder Women or any member of the justice league. The work is a Corrido of how we failed to exercise right over
might hope over despair and exposing the tensions between nationalism and globalism. White nationalist fear that Mexican immigrants will consume them. The paintings of “White snack” and “White cheese” are self-portraits of myself transformed into that fear of the “big brown Mexican cannibal “ in which the take over of America commences. The mural-size paintings express the extrovert nature of color, social-political landscape and rhythm of form. Paintings like “La Cita” and “More Americans than Gringos “ echo the legacy of Mexican mural painting and Chicano art in which I use as a jumping point. I value the narrative trait of the muralist tradition, taking it forward the Corrido strategy for painting gives me room for breath and to play the role of historian, singer, storyteller, and musician. paintings have an ambiance marked by intensity, stubbiness, jumping point. I value the narrative trait of the muralist tradition, taking it