Stealing the American dream back from Chuck Norris

"Me and My _____" by Spencer Keeton Cunningham

Why'd we let him do it, United States of America? All of a sudden (maybe this happened awhile ago), the face of "America" was no longer the face of the people who'd been there for millenia, but rather a gun-toting, karate-chopping, Christian blogging white guy (there may have been steps in between the two.)

Reminder brought to you by Gerardo de Sepulveda, the painter behind the comically-rendered "Chuck Norris and the Theft of the American Spirit" and one of the Bay Area Native Americans featured in Galeria de la Raza and the Indigenous Arts Coalition's group exhibition "Native Diaspora Now."


Richard Castaneda's "Sacred Pipe"

The show is an at-times wry look at Native American life in America today. In another corner of the gallery hangs a multimedia piece by Richard Castaneda. It's deals in American spirit, too -- the kind you smoke. Baby blue and yellow headdress-adorned cigarrette boxes, arranged in the shape of a cross, adorned with feathers hanging from Pepsi bottlecaps. It's instantly recognizable as coming from a Native tradition, but will cause cognitive woe to anyone whose concept of Native art borrows from the "ethnic print" section of Urban Outfitters.

The same can be said of the rest of the show, which ranges from leather vests hanging in space to video clips that expose deep, wailing wells of hurt, to the bright, witty work of Spencer Keeton Cunningham (who uses those working class-iconic ramen noodles to represent a figure's heart in one memorable work, aptly titled "Chief Ramen Heart".) It's totally -- oh dang, am I going to say this? -- American in a way that any dude who campaigned for Mike Huckabee could only dream of encapsulating. 

Formed in 2008 as a San Francisco Art Institute student group, the Indigenous Arts Coalition is focused on promoting First Peoples art in the Bay Area. The work deserves to be lauded, and the show marks the ascedence of the group, insofar as its website debuted at the interactive computer that is set up by Galeria de la Raza's front door if by no other metric. Let's hope "Native Diaspora Now" is a sign of more insightful projects to come.  

You can drop by to see the show any time Galeria de la Raza is open, but for a more interactive look, we recommend attending Sat/6 when artists from the Indigenous Artists Coalition will speak on a panel moderated by publisher-poet Mica Valdez. Stick around afterwards for readings from Turtle Island to Abya Yala, music from The Genie and Daniel Rodriguez on the acoustic guitar, and snacks from Rocky's Frybread

"Native Diaspora Now" 

Through Oct. 13

Indigenous Artists Coalition artist talk

Sat/6, 6-10pm, free

Galeria de la Raza

2857 24th St., SF

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