Image by Luke Chesser
Image by Luke Chesser

Black Velvet, A Rasquache Aesthetic exhibit

This exhibit argues the opposite sides of aesthetic. Rasquache or rasquachismo, according to Chicano art historian Dr. Tomas Ybarra Frausto is the “politics of making do.”

In Spanish, it is a slang term meaning tacky or shoddy in a lower-class manner, or from an underdog perspective. As a painting type, it has simultaneously been ridiculed and loved, considered low art and reviled, or affordable art. It is admired mostly because of the pop subjects painted – Popocatépetl, an Elvis, a John Wayne, a Marilyn, a Jesus, a Virgin of Guadalupe or the cute puppy with a shoe. Some consider it folk art, others kitsch and is loved for its irreverence. It has been collected and kept for decades. The paintings in this collection tell a story of a borderless geography with a range of themes and styles, with vintage origins in Europe and the Far East and their final import into the Mexican-US borderlands and Canada. Diana Rivera, Elena Herrada and Minerva T. Martinez are curating the traveling exhibit of the once ubiquitous paintings first exhibited at Casa de Rosado gallery in Lansing, MI and now at the Mexicantown-Latino gallery in Detroit.

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