Mark Vallen's Newsletter. Aug. 2003
Art Activism & Social Change
Drawings by Mark Vallen
A R T  F O R   A  C H A N G E


1) - ¡EL GRITO! Liberation of the Spirit. Art Exhibit celebrating Mexican Independence Day
2) - BOOK REVIEW - Philip Stein's "Siqueiros, his Life and Work."
3) - Mark Vallen's Painting, "A People Under Command" published in German magazine
4) - Call for Art submissions to "War Stories" exhibition


Mark Vallen's work on display at Artino's "El Grito" exhibit The ARTINO Arts Group of Los Angeles will hold a month long exhibit titled El Grito - ¡Liberacion del Espiritu! (The Cry - Liberation of the Spirit!). The group exhibition celebrates Mexican Independence Day and focuses on the impact the historic Mexican anti-colonial struggle has had on the peoples of the Americas.

In particular the show will explore the interplay between Mexico and the U.S., past and present struggles for liberty and democracy, cultural identity - immigration, and the celebration of heritage... all through the eyes of Latino artists living in L.A.

NoHo Arts District, North Hollywood, California
September 2nd - 30th 2003

Original Paintings, Prints, Drawings, and Sculpture

OPEN TO THE PRESS & PUBLIC: Tuesday, Sept. 2nd - 6th.
ARTIST'S RECEPTION: Saturday, Sept. 6th. 7 - 10 pm.
CLOSING PARTY: Saturday, Sept. 27th. 3 - 6 pm.
EXHIBIT ENDS: Tuesday, Sept. 30th.

The ARTIST'S RECEPTION will be held at the Gallery on Saturday, Sept. 6th., from 7 to 10 pm. The artists will be on hand to greet you and answer questions concerning their latest artworks, and new Print works will be made available for the first time. The public will also have an opportunity to bid on specific artworks in a silent auction. ARTINO member Xavier Montes will perform traditional Mexican songs on his Paraguayan Harp, and T.J. Bolero will also be providing musical entertainment. Refreshments and hors d'oeuvres will be provided.

The exhibition's CLOSING PARTY will be held late afternoon at the Gallery on Saturday, Sept. 27th., from 3 to 6 pm. The artists will be on hand to answer questions concerning their artworks. The public will also have an opportunity to win Prints in a special raffle. There will be a Jazz band, spoken word, refreshments and hors d'oeuvres, and other surprises to round out the afternoon. There will also be a special Dance Performance dedicated to the hundreds of women in Juarez Mexico who have been murdered by unknown assailants.

MARK VALLEN (Creator of contemporary social realism and political graphics). FRANK MARTINEZ (One of L.A.'s original 1970's muralists). LALO GARCIA (Designer of the "Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe" for L.A.'s Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels). SERGIO HERNANDEZ (Illustrator and cartoonist for the legendary late 60's Chicano magazine, "Con Safos"). RICARDO ORTEGA (Painter of Chicano iconography and indigenous spiritual themes). XAVIER MONTES (Paints with acrylics, musician, and founder of the De Colores Art Show in Santa Paula). FELIX PEREZ (Painter of the urban apocalypse and Chicano iconography).

Lankershim Art Gallery
5108 Lankershim Blvd., NoHo Arts District. North Hollywood, CA 91601.

Book cover for Philip Stein's "Siqueiros, his life and work." SIQUEIROS, HIS LIFE AND WORK is an extraordinary book written by Philip Stein (a.k.a. Estaño), a tremendously talented American painter and muralist. He worked in Mexico with David Alfaro Siquieros for ten years, helping Siquieros to create some of his most famous mural works.

The Mexican Cultural Commission has designated Stein's book as the definitive biography on Siqueiros, and the manuscript is currently being translated into Spanish for a limited edition run. Stein's insightful looks at the history of the Mexican Muralist movement, his experience of working directly with Siquieros, and his first hand knowledge of melding art with social action make for fascinating reading. I've always been an admirer of Siquieros, and as a young adult his works profoundly impacted me, becoming a guidepost in my own career as a socially engaged artist. Over the years I've studied the thoughts and actions of this artistic genius, but my research has always been somewhat like trying to put together a puzzle. Stein's book comes as a welcome relief, providing clarity, historical context, and great detail.

As an artist who worked side by side with Siquieros, Stein writes with enormous conviction on the importance of the Mexican Muralist movement as the first wave of a new revolutionary art. Through his book he traces the political and aesthetic battlefields from which Siquieros emerged, naturally keeping the focus on this giant in Mexican art... but never straying to far from the fact that Siquieros was part of a historical process, the result of material forces, and a figure in a larger movement.

Stein's book includes 72 pages of color and black and white photos. There are wonderful photos of Siqueiros at work on various murals and easel paintings, but of particular interest are the plates showing rare artworks hitherto unknown to me. His stunning Struggle for Emancipation is one such work, a painting depicting a sea of humanity dressed in white and rushing at a wall of faceless and gray security forces. The moving King Cuauhtemoc shows the last Aztec monarch naked and tortured, but defiant and clutching a bundle of arrows. One would think the most unlikely artist in the world to have a painting hung in the Vatican Museum would be Siqueiros, yet that's exactly where his equally unlikely portrait, Christ, is housed.

I'm pleased to announce that by special arrangement with Stein's publisher, INT'L Publishers Co., this important illustrated biography on Siqueiros will be available at ARTINO's upcoming El Grito - ¡Liberacion del Espiritu! exhibition. For those unable to attend the exhibit, you can also purchase Stein's book directly from my Art For A Change website.

Estaño continues to paint marvelous works based on contemporary realities, and anyone even remotely interested in the subjects of painting, social realism, and the intersection of art and politics should make themselves familiar with his artworks. The artist maintains a large website where you can view his powerful creations:

Detail from Vallen's "A People Under Command." A PEOPLE UNDER COMMAND is the title of a large painting
I created in 1985 during the second half of the Reagan era. The unstretched canvas was painted before the invasion of Panama, the first Gulf War, the rise of the militia movement, or the war against Yugoslavia. My painting was meant as a warning against empire and the militarization of American culture.

The German magazine Zivil recently contacted me about printing an illustrated review of my Painting in their publication. The Federal Government of Germany allows conscientious objectors in the armed forces to do civil service rather than military tasks, and since 1986 over 5,000 active duty German soldiers have carried out nonmilitary service. Presently Germany has around 1,100 conscientious objectors doing social service duties overseas. Called Zivis, these pacifist minded individuals do a tour of duty that lasts two months longer than ordinary soldiers.

Zivil magazine has a readership of over 120,000 people, and while it's targeted at the conscientious objectors within Germany's armed forces and those who work with them, Zivil brings an eclectic mix of current events, art and culture, sports, and fashion to a much wider audience.

My painting has been published in the latest edition of Zivil, where it was called "an outstanding example of political Art" and a "surrealistic street scene" that offers "a prophetic vision for the era of George W. Bush." You can see my painting by going to the Zivil website, once there... click on "Galerie" at the bottom of the lefthand column.


THE WORKMEN'S CIRCLE/ ARBETER RING of Los Angeles has released an Artist's Call for their third juried exhibit to be held at their A Shenere Velt Gallery. Artists are being asked to submit artworks that address the subject of war, for an exhibition titled War Stories. You must submit an application before Sept. 8th, 2003. The actual exhibit will be held from Nov. 9th to Jan. 1st, 2004. To receive a prospectus on the show that details requirements for submission, send a self-addressed stamped business envelope to: A Shenere Velt Gallery, 1525 S. Robertson Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90035-4231. You can also get all the details for submitting works directly off The Workmen's Circle website, at:

Mark Vallen's ART FOR A CHANGE website serves as a resource center for Art Activism. It encourages and promotes the creation of artworks that envision a just, peaceful world. Please inform others of this site, and forward this notice to all appropriate lists and individuals. If you wish to be added or removed from the AFC mailing list, or if you'd rather receive a text only version of this mailing...
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"The defining function of the Artist is to cherish consciousness."
~ Max Eastman.