Transcendental Tricentennial: Love Letters to San Anto, The (he)ART of David Zamora Casas

An explosion of artwork highlights multiple concepts including love, romance, global plunder, rasquachismo, and the AIDS pandemic. The exhibit winds its way through the ITC gallery in colorful, multiple dioramas intricately detailed in a cohesive, culturally relevant queer-driven visual unit in search of true humility and noble hearts.

The folk-baroque manifestations are part of a new mega-installation by David Zamora Casas that opened with an artist reception from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, March 22 at the UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures, 801 E. Cesar Chavez Blvd. The exhibition continues through July 28.

The artist who refers to himself as “Nuclear Meltdown” has created a pinata visual narrative filled with miles of ribbon, yards of fabric, embellished prints, various on-site assemblages, oil and acrylic paintings on canvas, barbed wire and bone sculptures, and a Dia de los Muertos ofrenda which spills into our collective consciousness.

One reoccurring concept is a recognition and exploration of contemporary terms such as genderfluid, boi and non-binary. “These terms are used by people to identify their sexual orientation/identity by preferred pronouns,” he said, adding, “Es justo y necesario to give Queer culture a voice! Everyday is a conscious effort to decolonize myself and understand my own GLBTQ plus community. Ultimately, this mega-installation is a grand gesture of resistance, affirmation and hope.”

An important theme is that of “rasquachismo, a Chicano aesthetic” a term coined by eminent Chicano scholar  Tomás Ybarra-Frausto which he describes as a “Chicana/o lived sensibility rooted in  working class values. In academia, to be rasquache is to engage in a Chicana/o expression defined by an ability to make do with whatever is at hand. It's the view of the underdog, to make something out of nothing, to make the most out of the least.”

Tomas Ybarra-Frausto, Ph.D., says of Zamora Casas, “A vernacular baroque style informs his artwork full of extravagant embellishments, intense ornamentation and bold display.” Ybarra-Frausto added, “His canvases mix word and image to visualize autobiographical and universal stories of homoerotic love, loss and persistent social concerns including immigration, environmental plunder, gender disparity and the multiple issues facing marginalized individuals and communities.”

Zamora Casas also touches on the idea of evidence that indigenous people once occupied the lands that we now roam. “There are human remains that prove people were here in the Americas 10,000 years ago,” he said.

The installation is made possible in part by a grant from the National Association of Latino Arts and Culture.“I thank NALAC, ITC and Bihl Haus Arts for the opportunity to produce a dialogue where the ethos of a Chicano world-view resonates with wonder, joy and self-esteem," Zamora Casas said. "The installation and painting, 'Make Water Pure Again' is personified outrage at the political powers negating global climate change. It’s the voice of all conscious-minded people regardless of ethnicity, orientation and socio-economic background particularly Chicana/o XicanX and GLBTQ plus communities.”