New Acquisition

Romero, Frank (b.1941, U.S.)
Arrest of the Paleteros, 2010
32 color serigraph, 77 x 117 cm.
Art Intern Purchase, Friends of Houghton-Paula Kalenik ’71
ARTH 204 Art Collection Internship: Acquisition
The students in this course have selected a work to add to the Hobart and William Smith Art Collection. Thank you to Dylan Bennett ’19, Sarah MacKechnie ’19, Tiffani Pan ’19, and Xin Xu ’18.

The premise was “In the time since the beginning of the 2016 American presidential election, Donald Trump has continued to shift America’s focus towards his exclusionary, violent, and nationalistic view for a “Greater America.” He has targeted many marginalized groups in America from Muslim-Americans to the LGBTQ+ community, but one of his earliest and most frequent victims is Latinx-Americans whom he chooses to label as “rapists, murderers, criminals,” and distinctly “un-American.” With the recent act to end the DACA agreement, Donald Trump has shown that his view for America excludes the rich history and foundational influence of Latinx-Americans and those seeking to become Latinx-Americans. We choose to focus on acquiring art of Latinx-American perspectives to emphasize the allyship of Americans of all decent and of Latinx immigrants who seek to become American citizens. Latinx-American perspectives cannot and will not be silenced by a demagogic president or those who support his violent policies or worldview. We choose to stand with Latinx-Americans here at HWS, around the United States, and around the world by making their perspectives and stories a fundamental part of the Davis Gallery Collection.”

Frank Romero grew up in the Hispanic, Asian, and Jewish communities of East Los Angeles. He began painting when he was five years old and as a teenager attended LA’s Otis Art Institute, one of the best art schools in the nation. Romero did not think of himself as a Chicano until he began to work with three other artists in an informal group known as Los Four. Los Four and other Hispanic artists throughout the West used wall murals, graffiti, and street theater to protest America’s involvement in Vietnam and Southeast Asia. The police response to antiwar demonstrations in Los Angeles was part of a larger pattern of violence against the minority communities that Romero experienced throughout his life. It takes years for the artist to think through and to paint these episodes in the life of his community, because, he says, “That stuff is hard for me to do, it hurts, it’s frightening” (Los Angeles Times, July 28, 2002 [online]). Romero’s brightly colored paintings celebrate the Los Angeles culture of lowriders and “rascuache,” the art of making something beautiful out of the ordinary.

Romero’s print Arrest of the Paleteros is a serigraph reproduction of his 1996 painting depicting the ice-cream men, being arrested in Echo Park for not having vendor permits. The print was complete at Modern Multiples in Los Angeles under the guidance of Richard Duardo. In Frank Romero’s 1996 painting The Arrest of the Paleteros, towering palm trees reach into an evening sky streaked with pink and reflect off the placid surface of Echo Park Lake, a sight that cuts to the core of Los Angeles’ awe-inspiring beauty. But in the foreground, there’s chaos. Framed in a cop car’s headlights, four ice cream vendors reach into the air — echoing the palm trees in the background — as police officers train their weapons on them and two small children holding paletas in their tiny fists. Off to the left, a balloon vendor is pursued on foot by a cop with his billy club drawn. The balloon man is wearing an almost cartoonish outfit and his mouth is agape, which seems to further emphasize the absurdity of LAPD’s excessively zealous crackdown on unlicensed vendors in the early ’90s.

A Conversation with Frank Romero. / interview By: Chattopadhyay, Collette. Artweek, September 3 1992, Vol. 23, p23-25, 3p

Art with a Chicano accent. / Historical and contemporary Chicano Art in Los Angeles By: Durland, Steven; Burnham, Linda Frye; MacAdams, Lewis. High Performance, 1986, Vol. 9 Issue 3, p40-57, 16p

East Side Stories: Freeways and Their Portraits in Chicano Los Angeles. By: Avila, Eric. Landscape Journal, 2007, Vol. 26 Issue 1, p83-97, 15p; DOI: 10.3368/lj.26.1.83

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Today is the birth anniversary of Mark Tobey

In our collections, you will find:

Mark Tobey (1890-1976)
Vibrating Surface, 1974
Etching on BFK Rives paper, 66 x 50 cm.
Gift of Kenneth Halsband ‘88

Mark Tobey (1890-1976)
Grand Parade, 1974
Lithograph on Arches paper, 66 x 50 cm.
Gift of Kenneth Halsband ‘88

The American painter, poet and composer Mark Tobey was born in Centerville, Wisconsin on December 11, 1890. As of 1906 he studies watercolor and oil painting at the Art Institute in Chicago. Afterwards he works as a model drawer in Chicago and as of 1911 in New York. In 1918 Mark Tobey converts to Bahaism, this Persian belief seems to have a great impact on both his life and his art.
From 1922 to 1925 he works as an art teacher at the Cornish School in Seattle. He is very interested in European Cubism and East Asian painting and calligraphy, he collects the art of the Tlinkit and Haida Indians, especially textiles and wooden sculptures.
In 1925 Mark Tobey travels to Europe and stays in Paris for some time, he also visits Barcelona, Athens, Istanbul and Beirut, goes onto a pilgrimage to the holy site Bahá’í in Haifa, and also visits Akka to learn more about Persian and Arabian calligraphy. 
His first one-man show takes places in Chicago in 1928. From 1930 to 1937 he teaches at the Dartington Hall School in Devonshire, England. His journeys play an important role in Tobey’s life. In 1932 he goes to Mexico and in 1934 to China and Japan – where he deals with the teachings and paintings of Zen, the Hai-Ku poetry and also calligraphy in a monastery in Kyoto.
The effects of these journeys can be observed in his works. The artist returns to the USA in 1937 because of the changing political situation in Europe. He lives in Seattle until 1960. He makes first music compositions as of 1938. In 1944 the Willard Gallery in New York shows his “White Writings” pictures for the first time, this exhibition marks his artistic breakthrough. Tobey covers the image carrier with many layers of white or a similarly light color – this is the beginning of the “all over” painting, a style that is also applied by other artists such as Jackson Pollock. Mark Tobey’s works become more and more abstract and comply with the artist’s meditative and contemplative lifestyle.
Mark Tobey’s works are shown in the 1959 and 1964 documenta exhibitions in Kassel and in numerous other exhibitions all over the world. He belongs to the most important precursors of the American “Abstract Expressionism”. The Smithsonian Institution in Washington shows the first retrospective in 1974.
Mark Tobey moves to Basel in 1960 where he dies on April 24, 1976.

Tobey produced most of his prints in the years just before his death, from 1973-1975. These include a number of lithographs and etchings.

Seitz, William Chapin. Mark Tobey. New York, Museum of Modern Art in
collaboration with The Cleveland Museum of Art and The Art Institute of

  • Chicago; distributed by Doubleday, Garden City, N.Y. [1962] ND237 .T56 S4
    • Tobey, Mark. Tribute to Mark Tobey. Washington : Published for the National Collection of Fine Arts by the Smithsonian Institution Press: [For sale by the Supt. of Docs., U.S. Govt. Print. Off.], 1974. ND237 .T56 S58 1974