As the installation of our new president fast approaches and memories of the ugly divisiveness that the election stirred up, my thoughts turn to many things. First and foremost perhaps is immigration (the environment a close second when it comes to nail biting). What on earth does it mean to be an “illegal”, why we disdain some groups and laud others. What will happen to the undocumented?
Is it really so simple an issue that some folks entered “properly” and others enter through sheer will power, pluck and with a great deal of risk. I tend to think it is more than that. I often turn to my own immigrant stock grandparents who by the time I was a child were pretty much considered “good immigrants”.
And they were.
My grandparents were hardworking, ambitious and proud to be part of the fabric that makes this nation what it is . But so are the Mexican-American folks in my own neighborhood, many I suspect might have less than legal status. When I encounter the generosity of my neighbor up the hill, offering up a gorgeous platter of tamales , I am reminded of my Calabrian grandfather and the delight he took in a shared meal. When I see the diligence and pride my housekeeper Laura puts into her work, I am reminded of my Slovak grandmother; who felt no task too menial to not do well.
Then why? Why this difference in perception? Family lore was my grandfather was conceived on the way over to Ellis Island, that now seems apocryphal, but would he have been considered an anchor baby? It’s all very true that they entered “legally” , but must it be so arduous to be part of this great experiment? I wish it weren’t, we seemed to have been on a path of fairness. Now I fear a terrible regression.
As fate would have it I was notified of a group exhibition specifically addressing this heated issue. I was very eager to participate and this small painting will be part of the “fabric” of that show. I couldn’t be more delighted. My anxiety might not be lessened, but at least I was kept busy. In such times, that is all I hope for. If you are in LA please try to attend.
walter maciel gallery
2642 s. la cienega blvd.
los angeles, ca 90034
Co-curated by Monica Lundy
7 January – 4 March 2017
Opening Reception: Saturday, January 7th, 6:00pm – 8:00pm
Walter Maciel Gallery is pleased to present With Liberty and Justice for Some, featuring the work of several contemporary artists who have been invited to create portraits of immigrants to the United States. The show is a statement on the many fears surrounding the announcement of our new president elect and a powerful response rejecting the presumed policies that threaten to disrupt basic civil rights.
A Change is Gonna Come
I’m closing with this image of my grandparents, if they were still alive , the would be over a century old.
4 thoughts on ““Good” Immigrant,”Bad” Immigrant”
Congrats on being a part of this show Leonard, all the very best for 2017. Lovely pic of your grandparents. I wonder what their generation would have made of these strange times.
Sadly they became more intolerant as they aged. We were estranged by the time the died-my gayness not having abated. I fear, I know, they would have voted for Trump. As have I suspect some of my siblings. Dark days, but I choose my friends wisely and you are a gem.
Oh bless you Leonard, I do hope we get to meet one day 😊. I’m sorry to hear things turned out the way they did with your grandparents. Yes, I think our world is going backwards, we can only do what we can and keep making the argument I guess. You and your work are a much needed light in all this darkness x
I hope for that as well my friend, on your shore or ours.
Until that time, be well and as creative as you are !