Dear Josh T. Franco,
We do not know each other and it appears that even despite the fact that we traverse many of the same kind of different worlds of Chican@s, artists, writers and so forth, we do not have any “friends in common” etc. I have to say I find a bit of comfort in this fact; that we can still not know people in a world that is ever-growing-yet-somehow-ever-tiny.
My name is Irina and I was raised mostly throughout the Pacoima-Arleta region of Los Angeles. Throughout the 40’s and 50’s, Pacoima was known as a place that was a safe haven for Mexicans and other farm working peoples. After much roaming and migration, I am fairly certain my family settled there because of this, because of the need of wanting to stop moving. I think about this as I sit with 20-some other artists and writers, all who have or will consider travel quite a bit as the job and lifestyle requires us to do so.
It is also important to know that I come from dreamers. My grandmother Dolores, who I was mostly raised by has always believed that our dreams are powerful tools for our waking moments on earth...
by Irina Contreras
Read full letter here.
Photo: interior, city hall, Marfa, TX, Richard John Jones
Serving up "Instant facul-Tea" with art history lecturer Josh Franco.
By Bethany George, Jaclyn Cataldi
Published: September 3, 2014
See video here.
"A pilgrimage to Marfa is a must for any contemporary art aficionado.
"The trek to the small high desert West Texas town to visit the Chinati Foundation — the singular art museum conceived from a 340-acre former Army facility by Donald Judd — becomes a qualifying badge of sorts, a way to let others know of one's dedication to and appreciation of Judd's heady vision of a place where as he wrote "contemporary art (can) exist as an example of what the art and its context were meant to be."
"The exclusivity of Chinati is undeniable: Marfa is nearly 200 miles from any commercial airport and about 80 miles from an interstate highway. And yet the disconnect between Chinati and its fashionable international visitors, and the longtime Marfa residents, remains profound.
"It's that disconnect that fascinates artist and art historian Josh T. Franco. And he pokes and probes those parallel communities in "Marfita," the clever and slightly irreverent installation he's created along with Alison Kuo and Joshua Saunders at Co-Lab Space."
Jeanne Claire van Ryzin
Read the full article here.
"Texas is enormous. The land is mostly desert with its endless sky. The road stretches for miles, causing the optical illusion of infinity, akin to staring at the ocean. Even in winter, mirages appear on the sand and asphalt. Everything here is marked by a contradiction of unpredictability and control.
"Donald Judd’s Chinati Foundation, housed in the remains of the military base Fort D.A. Russell, is comprised of permanent installations by eleven artists, including Dan Flavin, Sol Lewitt, and Roni Horn, which fill the base’s former meeting-houses, infirmaries, and sleeping quarters. School No. 6 by Ilya Kabakov is a fabricated Soviet elementary school classroom where the holes in the exterior walls are left unfilled, allowing sand to blow in, coating an already aged patina. John Wesley’s surreal figurations, dependent on their own odd sense of repetition, stand out as the sole moment of whimsy. Everything was selected and overseen by Judd. A massive installation of his signature aluminum boxes, each with facets in unique configurations, fills two hangars that once housed German prisoners of war. A hand-painted sign that translates: “Use your head or lose your head” looms above the works."
Read the full article here.
From one of the four corners of the flat earth, Fogo Island, in Newfoundland, has appeared on the radar of contemporary art. Recognized for Fogo Island Arts, a residency-based contemporary arts institution with international ambition and connections, art here is inextricably tied to a larger rural renewal initiative to revitalize Fogo Island’s economy through sustainable tourism. The remote, rocky island is rife with lore and history, and the narratives developing around Fogo Island Arts are in keeping with that tradition.
Fogo Island is an outport (the term used for isolated coastal communities in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador) that was settled by the Irish and English in the mid eighteenth century. Its inhabitants have relied on fishing, struggled with dwindling cod stocks, and fiercely resisted a forcible move to a larger settlement as recently as 1967 — all while eking out a hardscrabble existence. Today the island has a population of about two thousand seven hundred, down from a high of six thousand prior to the federal government’s instatement of a cod moratorium in the early 1990s. Analogous to the island’s resilient culture, self-sufficiency is a key aspect of the Fogo Island Arts project. Engaging contemporary art to help reinvigorate a rural and remote community, it is a long way from the art world audience found in more urban contexts. To travel to Fogo Island requires multiple flights, driving, a ferry, and then more driving.[i] It’s a journey. The journey — an art pilgrimage not unlike a visit to Walter De Maria’s Lightning Fields — offers both imaginative escapism and access to experiential knowledge. Even place-names become more fantastical as one approaches Fogo Island: from Vancouver a traveller passes through airports in Toronto, St. John’s, and Gander, drives across a scrubby, densely treed landscape that appears endless, takes a ferry on the Atlantic through a stop at Change Islands, and then once on Fogo Island drives through communities such as Stag Harbour, Little Seldom, Seldom, Barr’d Islands, Joe Batt’s Arm, and Tilting, where along the inlets small, mostly traditional wooden buildings face the ocean in surprisingly dense clusters.
Fogo Island Arts (FIA) undertakes a program that includes not only an artist residency, but also exhibitions, publications, and public programming such as the Fogo Island Dialogues, a three-day event (July 19-21, 2013) with approximately twenty international speakers that sought to focus on how art can influence social change. This program is the first in an internationally promoted series, simultaneously bringing attention to the FIA project and troubling its very premise. The Dialogues belong within a contemporary art system where conversations and speaker series are understood as legitimate and legitimizing discursive practices. Narratives, such as those produced by the Dialogues, result in concentric waves that spread the reach of the FIA project. However, art is not the only background against which the Dialogues play out: its intertwined contexts include business and cultural ecologies, specifically sustainable tourism that relies on national and international visitors, and the maintenance of cultural traditions.
Read the full article here.
I’ve known Josh Franco for about a year now. He teaches in the Art History department at Ithaca College, and I teach in the Writing Department. We both came to IC under the auspices of the Pre-Doctoral Diversity Fellowship. Josh and I share a mutual admiration for the work of Gloria Anzaldúa, and in teaching the Poetics class this semester I invited Josh to come talk to my class about his involvement with the Society for the Study of Gloria Anzaldúa and about his dissertation, research, and art practice. In awe of his work, I initiated this conversation with him via email, which I am so excited to share with all of you.
"Josh T. Franco is the Latino collections specialist at the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art (AAA). Last month he spent a day conducting research at the CSRC Library, exploring the cross-referencing possibilities between the two celebrated archives. Franco was specifically interested in the CSRC’s collection of materials related to Con Safos, a magazine published in Los Angeles from 1968 to 1972. This collection complements the AAA’s collection of research materials on Chicano art donated by noted art historian and scholar Tomás Ybarra-Frausto. In addition, oral histories conducted by the AAA and the CSRC include interviews with artists who contributed to Con Safos, and transcripts are available online. The AAA interviewed Gilbert “Magu” Sánchez Luján and Carlos Almaraz, and the CSRC’s Oral Histories Series includes an interview with Luján.These various forms of documentation gathered at different times and housed at different locations reveal that archives are not closed systems. Franco’s visit hints at the wealth of materials available to scholars who conduct inter-archival research."
Read full newsletter here.
"From love letters to tax returns, sketches and snakes, the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art holds more than 20 million archival documents that tell the stories behind some of America’s greatest visual artists. Described as “the art world’s Fort Knox” by a contemporary art collector, the Archives is the leading research center dedicated to collecting, preserving and providing access to primary sources that document the history of the visual arts in America.
"Smithsonian Insider spoke with Josh T. Franco, Latino Collections Specialist at the Archives of American Art, to find out more about his work acquiring these important documents and how the Archives preserves the personal papers of America’s most important artists."
Read full interview here.
“It’s something I wouldn’t give you, or I would double check,” artist Paul Ramirez Jonas said to Archives of American Art (AAA) Curator Josh T. Franco, referring to an item found in a box of studio materials recently donated to the Archives.
“Um, it’s already here, Paul,” Franco replied, as the crowd in AAA’s gallery within the Smithsonian American Art Museum laughed.
Read full article here.
"The works that an artist creates is only part of their story. Their diaries, letters and even their emails provide insights into how the artist works, overcomes challenges and maintains creativity. Join me this week as I talk with Josh Franco the Latino Collections Specialist at the Archives of American Art who is responsible for developing the collection related to Latino artists."
Hear the interview here.
PHOTO: Jesse Amado in his studio. Credit: John Davenport
“I think if you look at the number of artists (in San Antonio) that produce at a high level and have been doing this for a long time — the quality of the work — it’s extraordinary,” said Eduardo Diaz, director of the Smithsonian Latino Center.
Among the major cities with large Latino populations, New York currently has the most individuals with papers in the archives’ Latino and Latin American collection with 31, followed by Miami with 15 and Los Angeles and San Francisco with six each.
“Certainly, Texas is hugely important as far as Latino art in America goes,” said Kate Haw, director of the archives. “We had done a better job of keeping up on the coasts — in New York and California. We had done a less good job of keeping up in the middle of the country.”
Franco, a West Texas native who lived here from 2006 to 2008 when he worked as a service-learning coordinator at Our Lady of the Lake University, was hired last year as Latino collection specialist, a new position. Franco’s time here helped inform which artists he approached first.
read the full article here.
"The U.S. Latina/o Art Forum has just put out a call to action for all its members, urging them to “increase the representation of Latinx art at the 2017 Annual [College Art Association] Conference by submitting a proposal to present a paper.” The appeal was made by the associate director of the Forum, Rose G. Salseda, and a student member, Mary Thomas. Salseda and Thomas founded this call on their analysis of Latino/a representation at the Annual Conference of CAA between 2012 and 2016."
Read full article here.
Writing about Josh T. Franco’s work “In Tlilli, In Tlapalli: Three Tejanos in Red and Black,” Rotem Rozental follows the migration and reincarnation of individuals, colors, ideas, and legacies between New York City and Marfa, TX.
Read full article here.
How does the past affect the future? The ways in which building national archives become critical to securing the history and future of U.S. Latinx arts will be discussed.
See video here.
An altar in a backyard in Texas. A statue of the Virgin of Guadalupe is encased in a bathtub that has been turned on its end. It is fortified with rocks and decorated with repurposed personal items. This cultural display made using materials at hand is an expression of rasquachismo...
“Scholars, critics and makers of Chicana/o (as many Mexican-Americans identify themselves) art periodically revisit the question of how rasquachismo is useful as a specific art category,” Josh T. Franco, Latino collections specialist at the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art, explains. “’Assemblage’ or ‘found object’ sculpture are conventional art terms often used to identify what could also be considered rasquachismo.”
See the full article here.