The MOLAA retrospective features portraits of Baca dressed in a pachuca, pouting and snarling with ruby ââred lips and tousled hair – images captured by SPARC co-founder Deitch, photographer and filmmaker. Baca is known as a muralist, but this early conceptual work emerged from an exhibition that Woman’s Building co-founder Sheila de Bretteville invited her to organize for the space in 1976.
“Las Chicanas: Venas de la Mujer” is now considered the first fully Chicana art exhibition in Los Angeles. It presented works by Baca, Isabel Castro, Judithe Hernandez, Olga MuÃ±iz and Josefina Quezada.
Sheila came to me and said, do we want to do a show that includes women of color? At the time, [Chicana] women did not show separately from men. The idea of ââseparating from the men undermined the movement. I did not care. I mean, I cared about the movement. But what I didn’t care was the incredible machismo. I was realizing, in part thanks to my friend Christina [Schlesinger].
Thanks to the mural programs, I got to know all of these women. We sat down and thought about it and we found âVenas de la Mujerâ and we all adopted different aspects of a woman’s character. We all got dressed. Judithe was a grieving figure. Josefina, I believe she was a factory worker. Isabel Castro, she became the revolutionary. I have become the pachuca. No one recognized me. I was becoming my cousin Esther, that’s exactly her. At school, I was constantly running away from them. I was beaten up once pretty well by pachucas. This show was about that power, taking the facade.
I did something else too. I brought the Tiny Locas and the Cyclonas, there were two of them clicks, neighborhood cliques. They were 14 or 15 years old and there was a group of girls, they were hardened cholas. We made a big corazon on the wall behind my sculpture “Las Tres MarÃas” [now in the collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum]. In the veins of the heart we put the names of the different girls.
Back then, no one cared about this show. No one wrote about it. Nobody mentioned it. It was as if it had never happened. But it has started to gain more attention recently.