Chicano artist Harry Gamboa Jr. knows the role of the court jester well, wrapping uncomfortable truths with disarming absurdity and punchiness. In 1981, Gamboa spoke about Chicanos' relative invisibility in the art world and mainstream culture. As part of the 70s conceptual and performance art collective ASCO alongside fellow Los Angeles east-siders Gronk, Willie Herrón, and Patssi Valdez he tagged the Los Angeles Contemporary Museum of Art for the work "Spray Paint LACMA," literally staking a claim to the institution that ignored them.
Through his videos, Gamboa shows similar bombast in utilizing the melodramatic tropes of B movies and Mexican soap operas to heighten the absurdity of his Latino protagonists going about their daily lives. On Saturday, July 18, a collection of some of these selections entitled Harry Gamboa Jr.: 1990s Video Art screens in conjunction with the recent opening of Phoenix Art Museum's Phantom Sightings: Art After the Chicano Movement exhibit.