Exhibition runs: April 1 – May 14, 2011
Opening Reception: Friday, April 1 from 5 – 9pm
Spring Gallery Night: Friday, April 15 from 5 – 9pm
WPCA is proud to present prints based around the life and social commentary of the Milwaukee-born artist Carlos Cortéz. This show, including work from the Just Seeds and World War 3-illustrated collectives, is an illustration of working-class struggles, movements for immigrant’s rights and social justice. This show was curated from private and public collections by the WPCA Exhibition Committee with the assistance of Susan Simensky Bietila.
Allied Artists Include:
Susan Simensky Bietila
Carlos Cortéz Koyokuikatl (1923-2005)
Throughout his life, Carlos Cortéz Koyokuikatl was known as a stalwart poet and supporter of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW, also known as the Wobblies), as well as an ardent indigenist. He worked primarily as a printmaker, using his artwork as a way to envision a more just and equitable world. Like many of his fellow IWW members, his story is one of near folkloric proportions. Cortéz Koyokuikatl was born near Milwaukee, Wisconsin on August 13, 1923 to Alfredo Cortéz and his life-partner Augusta Ungerecht Cortéz. Alfredo Cortéz was Mexicano of indigenous ancestry from the northwestern state of Sinaloa, Mexico. He worked throughout the United States as a general laborer and was an enrolled member of the IWW. Carlos’ activism in support of peace and social justice was influenced by his mother, Augusta Cortéz, the daughter of German émigré parents who was a socialist-pacifist.
From the moment of his birth into what was considered a radical working-class indigenous/migrant family, Cortéz Koyokuikatl was initiated into the proletariat struggles of early twntieth-century North America. Throughout his life, he maintained a direct relationship to workers and their ongoing resistence to capitalism. His identity as a worker and more importantly, as a Native person, foregrounded the unorthodox ways in which he envisioned working-class struggles and indigenous sovereignty. Cortéz Koyokuikatl stated that throughout his life he labored as a “harvest hand, construction worker, loafer, jailbird (and) vagabond factory stiff” simply to sustain his inclination to make art. By consciously working these “unskilled” occupations, Cortéz Koyokuikatl was able to focus his critical attention on the revolutionary transformation of society through his involvement with the anarcho-syndicalist IWW, as well as within Chicano and American Indian grass roots organizations. His legacy can be seen through his influence on the work of many artists and activists throughout the Midwest.
Dylan AT Miner