By Jose Gamaliel Gonzalez, Marc Zimmerman
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Extra info for Bringing Aztlan to Mexican Chicago: My Life, My Work, My Art
First of all, an Italian friend, Fazzio, started what was like an orphanage for some German kids we kind of adopted. On Sunday afternoons, we used to take the kids to see the sights. And on Christmas day, we played Santa Claus, took them out, bought gifts for them. I was almost twenty years old, and there I was having it pretty good in Europe, while lots of guys and lots of Latinos were in Korea. And meanwhile I was hanging out with different soldiers, including some Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, and other Latinos, doing cold war duty in a pretty safe place (fig.
As a very young kid, I used to draw a lot, and my teacher, Helen Carter, kept me after school when I was about eight or nine and gave me supplies to draw and paint. And I have drawings that I did when I was a kid. I had some, and I lost some. I don’t know what happened to them. But in northwestern Indiana, I lived right near a city called Chicago, and I knew early on that being from northwestern Indiana was being part of the Chicago world. I first went to the Art Institute as a young kid, about ten or eleven years old.
To this day I feel that my understanding of Spanish is pretty good, even better than when I was a kid, because I can read now more than I could before. Then, I couldn’t read. But English is still my first language, then Spanish. In fact, I think I write pretty well in English—even with style, some people have said so. Some of the things I’ve written on gentrification, some of the proposals I wrote for MIRA, have won me some praise. So I guess there’s a strong English emphasis in what I learned.