March 19, 2001


Subject: Re: Our Nuestra de Guadalupe in New Mexico is Sacred
Date: Mon, 19 Mar 2001 00:38:52 EST

Hi Alma, nice, diplomatic response. If you wanted to be confrontational (and you don't) you could tell the idiot to look up fascism in the dictionary.




Subject: Re: Our Nuestra de Guadalupe in New Mexico is Sacred
Date: Mon, 19 Mar 2001 01:30:59 EST

Wait, a minute, did i just step into a time machine and accidently hit reverse to the Spanish Inquisition? Luis Alfaro was right...Jesus save us...from some of your followers!!


Subject: La Virgin
Date: Mon, 19 Mar 2001 10:12:15 -0800
From: Patricio Chavez <>
To: <>

Hello Alma, Richard Lou forwarded me the email you received from José Villegas and your very dignified response. I am from New Mexico although I have been in San Diego for 11 years now. I was formerly the curator at the Centro Cultural de la Raza.

I am not sure if we have met but I have admired your work for some time.

Please send me your web site information. I don't know if I can help but I still have many dear friends and colleagues in New Mexico.

Any time a re-imaging takes place there can be contention (which in and of itself is certainly not bad) especially if it involves faith and sexuality.

Patricio Chávez

Subject: (no subject)
Date: Mon, 19 Mar 2001 14:07:12 EST

Dear hermano:

It is incredibly distressing to see an active Chicano like yourself be so misguided. I hope you can understand the context in which the art was created and the meaning behind it. Though others might believe otherwise, Latinos have a deep tradition in the arts and are insightful people- I work at a museum of Latin American art here in Los Angeles, and understand how valuable an artist's interpretation is. For starter's you might want to look up a favorite painting of mine by Jose Clemente Orozco (famous Mexican muralist) where he paints Jesus Christ as a man you has come back to reclaim his name and stop the criminals, politicians and capitalists who have misused the name of God. He is holding an ax and has chopped down his own crucifix. It is really powerful.

What I wish you would understand is the idea that La Virgen belongs to no one as much as it belongs to everyone. Her image has been created and recreated by hundreds of thousands of Chicanos like you and I- look on the walls of your corner markets or your neighborhood iglesia or the notebooks of our highschoolers. Every one of us, in our own way, has taken her image and made it personal. You don't agree with Alma's expression, and you know, that's cool. But do not create mitote where there need not be.

I have only been to New Mexico once and thought it was incredible. If you are in Los Angeles, please let us know and we'll take you for a tour of all the East LA murals that include La Virgen and maybe you'll understand why this work is valid and valuable.

Hasta luego. Paz
Erick Serrato


Subject: Re: Our Nuestra de Guadalupe in New Mexico is Sacred
Date: Mon, 19 Mar 2001 13:58:34 -0800
From: "Josephine Ramirez" <>
To: <>

Alma: WOW. Thanks for sharing this. It is completely fascinating to me how the Virgen image can cause such outrage when not portrayed in its "official" form. I love and admire your response, too--brave and diplomatic in the face of his explicit and rather threatening tone.



Subject: Re: Our Nuestra de Guadalupe in New Mexico is Sacred
Date: Mon, 19 Mar 2001 17:32:47 -0800
From: Aida Mancillas <>
References: 1 , 2

Dear Alma,

Well girl, you just keep poking at the internal contradiction in our community, "How do so-called activists reconcile their politics with their fundamentalism?"

I've sent this information off to our board of trustees and the arts advisory committee. I think this subject matter deserves to be discussed and debated. When I see what has been done to your work (and other queer artists like Alex) it makes me understand why the attacks on the Centro and its staff have been so unrelenting. These attacks are part of an underlying contradiction in the "progressive" community which has never acknowledged its deep sexism, its mimicking of the dominant power structure, and its homophobia. It's past time to do so.

What can I tell you mujer? Keep doing your work. It's good work and it raises critical issues. It's strong aesthetically. It's strong content-wise. It's smart. It's hilarious. It's truthful.

Art is all about the pursuit of truth and beauty (in all its forms). You're on an important path, and your work will lead us to a new understanding of the complexity of our community.

With great respect for you and your work,


"At its best, the sensation of (making art) is that of any unmerited grace. It is handed to you, but only if you look for it. You search, you break your heart, your back, your brain, and then--and only then--it is handed to you."
Annie Dillard , from "The Writing Life"