San Diego Art Preservers will focus on preserving Chicana / o / x art

Founded in 1975, the Balboa Art Preservation Center (BACC) began as a service for the specific needs of the San Diego Museum of Art and the Timken Museum, housed in the SDMA building. Within a decade, they had moved to the Casa de Balboa building across the park, becoming an independent non-profit art preservation center.

Leticia Gomez Franco, CEO of BACC, said museums and other institutions in San Diego – and across the state – soon began to see a need for preservation.

Gomez Franco said BACC is part of a small group of non-profit conservation organizations in the U.S. “I think at this point there are maybe about nine of them across the country,” Gomez Franco said.

Whose art deserves to be preserved?

Issues of public accessibility and for those who have access to conservation have been an increased focus for BACC as they have reconsidered their relevance over the past few years.

The institution takes an proactive approach to the diversity of the field and the specific works they preserve, instead of waiting for institutions to diversify their collections that will later come through their laboratory.

“There must be a huge change, not just in the final service of conservation,” Gomez Franco said. “This end service should be teamed up with a team here that responds to the needs of non-Eurocentric communities.”

Bianca Garcia, a conservator at the Balboa Art Preservation Center, is working on an undated painting.


Bianca Garcia, a conservator at the Balboa Art Preservation Center, is working on an undated painting.

Talks on conservation

Every Thursday in April, BACC hosts a series of free public panels and informal discussions on representation, access, cultural responsive practices and approaches to conservation, as well as community-leading standards for Chicana / o / x art and culture collections.

Each session will include a variety of voices, from coaches and curators to guards, academics, community organizers and administrators.

“I think the audience is wider than the field of conservation,” said Bianca Garcia, an art shift at BACC. “It’s definitely very appealing in the field of conservation, and I would not be surprised if a lot of conservatives mean it. But it’s also for the Chicano / Chicana / Chickenx community to start thinking about these things.”

‘Con Spus’ and Raskwachismo

“Con safos” translates to “with safety”. Gomez Franco said it was actually a badge, and an example of the guards’ consideration when it comes to Chicana / o / x art.

“In the ’60s and’ 70s, when artists would create a mural or if a poet wrote a poem, they would sign it in C and ‘S’, which is short for ‘con safos,'” Gomez Franco said. said. “And it’s basically like a protective shield, so no one could mess with it. So no one could label it or cancel it or belittle it.”

The issue recently came up at the BACC when a Mario Terror work marked “C / S” came through the lab.


Mario is a bullfighter

“Batman C / S Un Cholo” by Mario Torro is a work recently worked on by the Balboa Art Preservation Center, noting the use of the “con safos” marking on the work.

“If the ‘con safos’ protects the work from interference and our role as conservatives is to intervene for the protection of the work, where do we lie in all this?” Said Gomez Franco.

Rasquachismo’s theory and practice are also important for discussions on the preservation of Chicana / o / x art. The term usually applies to the use of materials and objects that are at the artist’s fingertips.

“The term is from the Chicano community, but in fact its practice exists beyond the Chicano community,” Gomez Franco said. “It basically means settling for what you have, and it’s really described as aesthetics. To me it transcends visual aesthetics and definitely goes into the process and intention, when it’s a very deliberate collection of materials that existed to meet a different kind of purpose, and are a kind of re-property to produce other things – And not always art. ”

She described examples of cans of spicy tomato paste turned into tiny planters, or reusing margarine baths for other household purposes. Artwork can sometimes include rusty nails or cans, or pieces of cloth from the desert. If materials are supposed to age and deteriorate, a guard should consider the intent as well as the creation.

For the guards, documenting the artist’s intentions for the materials is important in any work, as is documenting in the form of photographs or videos of the work if it eventually breaks down or disappears.

“Sometimes all we can do is document,” Garcia said.


Courtesy of BACC

Artist Victor Ochoa is shown in San Diego, California in this date without a date. “We are using better materials now,” Victor Ochoa said during a recent BACC panel on “con safos.” Ochoa is one of the original murals of Chicano Park, and co-authored the Technical Guide to Chicano Park Wall Restoration. “The mural behind it has a durability of 50 years, and if it is preserved, like giving it a simple wash every two years, it will probably be closer to a hundred years. So the technology has definitely improved,” Ochoa said.

The themes are “Con Safos as Self-Preservation” completed and viewable Here. Zoom registration links are available Here.

– “Rasquachismo Beyond Aesthetics: The Sensibilities of Documentation in Chicana / o / x Art” on April 14 at 4:00 p.m.
– “Inside / Outside: Preserving Chicane Culture / or / x Inside / Outside Institutions” April 21 at 4:00 p.m.
– “¿A Donde Vamos Chicana / o / x? Defining Intentions for Cultural Preservation” on April 28 at 9:30 p.m.

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