December 13, 2013 to January 10, 2014
On December 13, 2013 from 6 p.m. to midnight, to commemorate the nearly nine years since the death of Carlos Cortez on January 19, 2005, La Llorona Art Gallery together with Casa de la Cultura Carlos Cortez, will open the exhibition “La Llorona Salutes Carlos Cortez.” Carlos was a beloved poet, graphic artist, political activist, photographer and muralist who believed that art can help bring social change and aid in the understanding of the struggles and tribulations that poor and disenfranchised populations face on a daily basis. The exhibition is composed of thirty wood cut prints representing union and migrant workers, “Calaveras”, and other scenes celebrating the daily life of indigenous cultures. This is the third exhibition of Carlos Cortez’s works at La Llorona Gallery with the first being a solo exhibition, and the second a two-man show with Jose Gamalier Gonzalez, a fellow artist with whom he founded Moviemiento Artistico Chicano, the first Mexican arts organization in Illinois. A television documentary of his life was filmed in part at La Llorona Gallery during which Carlos said that he was in the gallery of his friend, Arturo Avendano. “La Llorona Salutes Carlos Cortez” will be on display at the gallery until January 10, 2014.
Carlos Cortez was raised during the Depression in Milwaukee, born to a Mexican father who was a union activist, and a German mother who was a socialist and a pacifist. A conscientious objector, he spent three years in prison in Minnesota during World War II. After his release from prison he returned to Milwaukee, holding a series of jobs in construction and a chemical factory. He began to draw cartoons for the Industrial Workers of the World Union (“Wobblies”), and he learned to cut block prints, beginning with linoleum and then moving to wood. He also was an accomplished oil and acrylic painter but he preferred woodcuts. Carlos was influenced by the techniques and styles of the German expressionists as well as by the Mexican artist Jose Guadalupe Posada, and he blended those influences with themes of the Aztecs and Chicanos.
Carlos was a much loved member, mentor and elder of the Chicano and artistic community in Chicago and throughout much of the country. His lifelong political activism and sensitivity to the plight of the more downtrodden members of society continues to inspire other artists to carry on his work. On the national level, the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Smithsonian Institute both house his work. Locally, his works belong to collections held by the National Mexican Fine Arts Museum, La Llorona Gallery and the Casa de la Cultura Carlos Cortez as well as others.