It is a ridiculous and reprobate move to suggest divorcing politics and art in responding–or better yet, reacting–to recent efforts to incorporate the Mexican (-American) community in this yearly run open house [Neighborhood News, September 26]. I do not know Sue Draftz and I have no detailed knowledge of her efforts beyond what I’ve read in the Reader and past issues of Exito. Regardless, to dismiss any gestures displaying a semblance of awareness of the community surrounding these predominantly white artists, to dismiss these because such gestures incorporate irrelevant agendas eclipsing art for art’s sake, manifests a significant amount of political ignorance and, at the very least, a lack of basic argumentative creativity. Pilsen–east, west, or south–is still predominantly Mexican (-American). This is not Wicker Park, Wrigleyville, or a neighborhood on some possible world where pretty aesthetic principles can comfortably stand as the main criteria and guide determining how the open house should be run. These artists live and walk between and around Mexicans, whether they live on 17th Place or Peoria. The hypocrisy of those demanding that politics be kept aside was best seen in the token incorporation (for the promotional poster) of an ostensibly orthodox representation of what Latino art “must” be. Nothing on the brother’s beautiful piece, but all on those using him. On Sunday, after two hours of sitting and watching this meretricious parade of moneyed aesthetes on 18th and Halsted, an older Mexican gentleman passing by, I a 20-year and he a 36-year resident of Pilsen (or is it East Pilsen?), asked me in Spanish what was going on, why were there all these wealthy white people in the neighborhood? I lied and told him someone rich and important must have died. I was talking about my neighborhood.
I would never suggest quotas or that a certain type of art be accepted or sought. Simply keep in mind that to continue segregating and excluding at any level in arguably the nation’s most segregated city is political, no matter what our genuine and heartfelt intentions are.