Chicano Art Icon Gilbert “Magu” Luján Celebrated In New Exhibition

Recuerdos del futuro: Roaming Magu’s Chicano Dreams Explores the Life and Artistic Process of the Iconic Chicano Artist Who Inspired Creativity and Motivated Authentic Self-Expression

LOS ANGELES – (January 23, 2018) – LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes presents Recuerdos del futuro: Roaming Magu’s Chicano Dreams, an exhibition tracing the community influences that grounded Gilbert “Magu” Luján’s artwork as he explored a Chicano future. Produced in collaboration with the Luján family, the exhibition showcases 81 works, including paintings, drawings, and sculpture, and interview footage of Magu. The exhibition also features elements from community artists responding to Magu’s work with installation and graffiti. The exhibition is on view from January 28 to June 25, 2018.

Recuerdos del futuro: Roaming Magu’s Chicano Dreams explores themes relevant throughout his decades-long career, including: Language, utilizing graffiti as inspiration to the creative process; Sculpture, transforming pyramids, lowriders, and dogs into fantastical cultural vehicles; Installation, adapting the barrio concept of rasquache to the art world by using whatever limited materials he had on hand to create inventive, fanciful works of art; and Magulandia, an alternate Chicano future where Western and indigenous influences are balanced and growth is always rooted in the collective past.

“Magu’s art reflects the way he lived — fully accessible to all, and filled with artistic vigor and meaning,” said Naiche and Mardi Luján of the Estate of Gilbert “Magu” Luján, who collaborated extensively with LA Plaza in developing and organizing the exhibition. “He was unwavering in regards to building community and nurturing relationships, maintaining a running dialogue with people from all walks of life through his paintings, sculptures, on the phone, in letters and via emails.  Our partnership with LA Plaza continues this exploration into our collective future, and serves as an inspirational touchstone for Chicano artists and others.”

Magu was inspired by his community. He improvised on the art forms practiced by his family, neighborhood, and culture. LA Plaza invited two contemporary Chicano artists to create art in conversation with Magu’s work in this exhibition: Calligraphy artist JERK and printmaker and designer Daniel Gonzalez. Their contributions will lend a contemporary context to the community-based, future-gazing themes in Magu’s work.

Gilbert “Magu” Luján (1940-2011) created art rooted in ancient legacies, civil rights struggles, and his barrio experience. A voracious reader and scholar, he strove to push Chicano art beyond “nopales and the Virgen de Guadalupe, and Frida Kahlo” — to encourage us to keep experimenting with new forms as our stories become more complex. The future was his artistic playground. Magu was a founding member of Los Four, the pioneering artist collective instrumental in bringing Chicano art to the attention of the mainstream art world during the 1970s and 1980s.


Related Programming

LA Plaza will host a series of public programs complementing Recuerdos del futuro: Roaming Magu’s Chicano Dreams throughout the run of the exhibition. Admission is free.

Saturday, January 27, 2018 | 5-7pm | FREE

Opening Reception, Recuerdos del futuro: Roaming Magu’s Chicano Dreams
Gilbert “Magu” Luján created art rooted in ancient legacies, civil rights struggles, and his barrio experience.  Recuerdos del Future: Roaming Magu’s Chicano Dreams traces the community influences that grounded Magu’s artwork as he explored the possibilities of a Chicano future. Music provided by ELECTRA AZTECA.


Thursday, April 12 | 7pm | FREE

Docs @ LA Plaza, Los Four (1974)/Murals of Aztlán (1981)

Los Four documents the first exhibition of Chicano artists held in a major art museum, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, in 1974. Murals of Aztlán: The Street Painters of East Los Angeles documents the exhibition of the same name at the Craft and Folk Art Museum of Los Angeles in 1981. Guest Speaker: Charlene Villaseñor-Black, professor of Art History and Chicana/o Studies at UCLA.


Sunday, April 29| 12-4pm | FREE 

Family Days @ LA Plaza, Día de los Niños 
Join us for a day full of educational activities that celebrate books and reading. Performances by Y Arriba Mexico Ballet Folklorico, Mariachi Academy of Carson, and Ballet Folklorico del Alma. Special art workshop by Jose Lozano and performance by Martin Espino’s Sounds of Ancient Mexico, inspired by the exhibition.


Thursday, May 24 | 7pm | FREE

Platicas @ LA Plaza, The High Art of Riding Low

This panel examines the various ways artists have reimagined and transformed the lowrider as both object and subject. Guest Speakers: Dr. Denise M. Sandoval, Professor, Department of Chicana and Chicano Studies, California State University, Northridge; iconic tattoo artist Mister Cartoon; and internationally-known photographer Estevan Oriol.

About the Estate of Gilbert “Magu” Luján:

The Estate of Gilbert ‘Magu’ Luján’s mission is to preserve Magu’s legacy by making his body of work accessible to the public through museum exhibitions and publications. The Estate has developed a virtual catalogue raisonné of the artist’s work to support its operations. They also own and operate the website to field the many inquiries of interest about the artist, post thought-provoking material, and ensure that the work of this cultural pioneer is not forgotten.

About LA Plaza:

LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes is the nation’s premier center of Mexican American culture. LA Plaza’s interactive exhibits and dynamic programs invite visitors of all backgrounds to explore as well as contribute to the ongoing story of Mexican Americans in Los Angeles and beyond. Located near the site where Los Angeles was founded in 1781, LA Plaza’s 2.2-acre campus includes two historic and newly renovated buildings (the Vickrey-Brunswig Building and Plaza House) surrounded by 30,000 square feet of public garden.


LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes, 501 North Main Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012

Hours: M, W, & Th, 12-5 pm, Fri-Sun 12-6 pm

Admission: FREE





Instagram: @laplazala

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Note to editors & reporters:

“LA” in “LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes” is part of the official name and should be capitalized


Abelardo de la Peña Jr., LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes


Lorena Alamillo, VPE Tradigital Communications

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Untitled, c. 2000