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Arts Colony Latino exhibit paints beauty of struggle

Posted November 15, 2005

Jessica Bell
Staff Writer

The urban-esque and smooth, danceable beats of Latin jazz band Chevere echoed through the streets of the Pomona Arts Colony, beckoning people from all walks of life into the Cal Poly Pomona Downtown Center where an opening reception for “Tres Mundos: Tres Expreciones” was held Saturday night.

In “Tres Mundos” three contrasting yet corresponding perspectives on the Latin sub-culture and the sometimes harsh realities of daily Latino life were presented by artists Roberto Rosique, Gregg Stone and Emigdio Vasquez, placing viewers in the shoes and minds of Latinos struggling to overcome social barriers.

The idea for “Tres Mundos” originated with Cybele Garcia, coordinator of the Downtown Center, and Stone, both of whom wished to hold an exhibit that presented varying artistic examinations of Latino life in the western hemisphere.

“‘Tres Mundos’ is an investigation of the lives of Latinos,” Garcia said. “(The paintings) are drawn together by cultural heritage, but (each artist’s portrayal) of the reality of daily life makes each work different.”

Vasquez’s work is a modern day depiction of the poise and vigor of the Chicano working class despite its ongoing struggle to overcome societal challenges. His work reflects both daily difficulties and aspirations for more promising futures.

“In my work I try to convey to the viewer the dignity and the strength of the working class in spite of the trials and tribulations in their lives,” Vasquez said.

Vasquez’s oils are rooted in photography, as he captures images of everyday working class Chicanos on film before bringing them to life on canvas with his skilled hand and paintbrush.

“(Vasquez’s paintings) are incredibly vibrant and photo-realistic, it’s almost unbelievable when you look at them, because you think they’re photos and not paintings,” said Mark Kostuk, an artist and Pomona resident.

Stone, who spent several years on the streets of Tijuana battling drug and alcohol addictions, provides a powerful portrayal of his past struggles as well as those of the people he encountered on his journey to sobriety.

Garcia said Stone’s artwork, ranging from images of defaced walls, tattooed and pierced Cholos, and prostitutes working the streets, conveyed his ability to perceive the beauty in reality. Stone’s work is a realistic portrayal of everyday Latino life, as his watercolors reflect people and places typically overlooked by others.  

“Gregg’s work portrays realism,” Garcia said. “ He doesn’t try to make life beautiful; he finds the beauty in life.”

Rosique’s works further enveloped viewers in the midst of the Latino culture, as each piece radiated a potent sense of emotional appeal. 

“I expect that my paintings cause reflections about the injustice that our immigrants suffer just because they aspire to have a better life,” Rosique said.

Rosique’ s oils chronicle young men attempting to breach the barriers between Mexico and America, as American pop icons, such as Uncle Sam and Batmanand hopes of achieving the much-hyped American dream seemingly fill their heads.

“All (Rosique’s paintings) have to do with the borders that separate America and Mexico,” said Ronald Sese, a senior at Nogales High School who attended the exhibit. “The things that are cherished in America force people out of Mexico.”

“Tres Mundos: Tres Expreciones” will be on display until Dec. 17.  A second reception for the exhibit will be held on Dec. 10 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Downtown Center.

Jessica Bell can be reached at