Visual Arts

"Chola Kitty Nueve Vidas" at AZ Latino Art and Cultural Center Mates Universally Loved Japanese Anime Character with Classic Chicano Cultural Style

What do you get when you cross a sweet, universally worshiped Japanese icon with a low-riding chola from East LA? According to Such Styles, well-known Phoenix graffiti artist and muralist whose real name is Noe Baez, you've just given birth to Chola Kitty, his latest creation. Such, as he prefers to be called, has immortalized this bad-girl kitty combo on canvas in "Chola Kitty Nueve Vidas" (Chola Kitty Nine Lives) at the Arizona Latino Art and Cultural Center.

Chola Kitty is Such's obviously Latino take on Hello Kitty, Japan's 40-year-old mega-anime character and product brand, which, along with Mickey Mouse, is one of the most recognizable cartoon characters ever created. In conceptual collaboration with his wife, Annette and his oldest son, Champ, the artist has taken Hello Kitty and recast the cuddly pink cat character into a bad-ass Latina gang-banger type with a don't-muck-with-me attitude, popularly known in Mexican-American culture as a chola. The chola's usual stomping grounds include low-rider car rallies and swap meets. At least, that's what the lyrics of a female take-off version of Down aka Kilo's 2007 hit,"Lean Like a Cholo," by Carmen, claims. It was Carmen's video satire that elevated cholas to near mythic pop-culture proportions.

See also: American Graffiti Artists Answer Scrawl of the Wild Such Styles Gives Hello Kitty a Makeover in "Chola Kitty Nueve Vidas Show" Opening Friday

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Kathleen Vanesian