Outsider Art in Texas: Lone Stars

By Jay Wehnert | Go to book overview

CONSUELO
“CHELO”
GONZĀLEZ
AMĒZCUA
1903–1975

Portrait of Consuelo “Chelo” González Amézcua / Ink on paper
Drawing by Mary Lawton

Living on borders and in margins, keeping intact one’s
shifting
and multiple identity and integrity, is like trying
to
swim in a new element, an “alien” element.

—Gloria E. Anzaldúa, Borderlands/La Frontera:
The New Mestiza

“Outsider” or “insider,” “self-taught” or “trained,” “folk art” or “fine art”—when applied to art and artists, these labels can be like borders that serve as divisions between regions of genuine meaning and understanding. Words, like borders, suggest either-or distinctions when real meaning may actually be found in the gray areas between these categorical bisections.

The border region between the United States and Mexico presents just such a phenomenon from both geographical and cultural perspectives. Borders have long divided geography and people that have historically had more fluid and porous relationships. Established for political and nationalistic reasons, borders often do not consider the people and cultures that coexist along them. The region along the border, consisting of territory on each side, comes to take on its own identity, often a hybridization of each. James Griffith in Southern Arizona Folk Arts describes the borderland as follows: “Belonging truly to neither nation, it serves as a kind of cultural buffer zone for both, cultivating its own culture and traditions. Like other borders, it both attracts and repels, like them it is both barrier and filter. It is above all a stimulating cultural environment.”1 When that border artificially separates countries that have intertwined histories but have grown apart culturally and economically, the culture of the borderland becomes even more complex. Norma E. Cantu writes further,

The pain and joy of the borderland—perhaps no
greater or lesser than the emotions stirred by living
anywhere contradictions abound, cultures clash
and meld, and life is lived on an edge—come from a
wound that will not heal and yet is forever healing.
These lands have always been here, the river of people
has flowed for centuries. It is only the designation
of “border” that is relatively new, and along with
the term comes the life one lives in this “in-between
world” that makes us the “other,” the marginalized.2

Artist James Magee, who has spent most of his adult life living and creating in the adjacent border cities of El Paso, Texas, and Juarez, Mexico, describes the

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Outsider Art in Texas: Lone Stars
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Outsider Art in Texas i
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Introduction 3
  • The Artists 17
  • Charles Dellschau 1830–1923 19
  • Frank Jones Ca. 1900–1969 30
  • Henry Ray Clark 1936–2006 39
  • Consuelo "Chelo" GonzĀLez AMĒZcua 1903–1975 46
  • Hector Alonzo Benavides 1952–2002 54
  • Eddie Arning 1898–1993 62
  • Ike Morgan 1958– 70
  • Johnnie Swearingen 1908–1993 77
  • Felix "Fox" Harris 1905–1985 85
  • Vanzant Driver 1956– 92
  • Richard Gordon Kendall 1930–? 98
  • Notes 107
  • Additional Reading 111
  • Index 113
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