ARTSblock Awarded $125,000 Grant for “Critical Utopias: The Art of Futurismo Latino”

UCR scholars conducting research for three Southern California exhibitions on Latin American and Latino art funded by The Getty Foundation

exterior view of ARTSblock

UCR ARTSblock will host a major exhibition in fall 2017 that is part of The Getty Foundation’s “Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA” initiative.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — When 46 collaborative exhibitions and events funded by The Getty Foundation open in fall 2017, UC Riverside scholars will figure prominently in an ambitious exploration of Latin American and Latino art.

The Getty Foundation awarded $5 million in May to arts institutions across Southern California for research and planning of its “Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA” initiative, which will present 46 exhibitions and events from San Diego to Santa Barbara. “LA/LA” is the second iteration of the Getty’s “Pacific Standard Time” initiative; the first focused on art in Los Angeles from 1945-1980 and was an unprecedented collaboration of more than 60 cultural institutions across Southern California coming together to celebrate the birth of the LA art scene. In 2013, a smaller scale program, “Pacific Standard Time Presents: Modern Architecture in L.A.,” explored the built heritage of the Los Angeles region.

UCR ARTSblock received a $125,000 research grant for “Critical Utopias: The Art of Futurismo Latino,” an exhibition of work by contemporary Latin American and Latino artists who employ science fiction for social, cultural, and political critique. There will be additional implementation awards for the exhibition and book after the research phase. UCR ARTSblock received a $72,000 implementation grant for the initial “Pacific Standard Time: 1945-1980” in 2010 for the exhibition “Seismic Shift: Lewis Baltz, Joe Deal and California Landscape Photography.”

Arts and humanities faculty also will help research an exhibition of the Riverside Art Museum, an independent museum two blocks from UCR ARTSblock, which received $75,000 for “Spanish Colonial Revival in the Inland Empire,” an examination of the architecture that has been part of the aesthetic fabric of the Inland Empire for 100 years.

And, Carlos Cortés, professor of history emeritus, is part of the advisory board conducting research for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences film project, “From Latin America to Hollywood: Latino Film Culture in Los Angeles 1967-2017.”

“With its historical roots in Latin America and its diverse population, Los Angeles embraces a global culture,” said Jim Cuno, president and CEO of the J. Paul Getty Trust. “In a way that is possible only in Los Angeles, ‘Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA’ raises complex and provocative issues about present-day relations between north and south and the rapidly changing social and cultural fabric of Southern California.”

Groundbreaking Exhibition

While the study of Latin American science fiction in literature and film is well-established, “UCR’s focus on the visual arts promises to be groundbreaking,” Tyler Stallings, artistic director of the Culver Center of the Arts and director of Sweeney Art Gallery at UCR ARTSblock, said of “Critical Utopias: The Art of Futurismo Latino.”

“The exhibition will bring together the university’s strong faculty and collections in these areas, scholars in science-fiction studies, curators and artists to examine Latin American and Latino science fiction’s capacity to imagine new realities, both utopic and dystopic,” added Joanna Szupinska-Myers, curator of exhibitions at the California Museum of Photography at UCR ARTSblock.

“ ‘Futurismo Latino’ is a historic show placing UCR at the forefront of the first transnational effort to identify a growing tendency in contemporary Latin American and Latino art, a tendency that recasts ‘the future’ at a time when debates over immigration reform, militarized borders, and American citizenship continue to take center stage in this country,” said Robb Hernandez, UCR assistant professor of English. “We are locating visual artists from across the Americas who are producing a rich multidimensional archive that reinvests aliens, borders, surveillance technologies and even science fiction kitsch with renewed purpose, realigning these debates over cultural belonging and utopian vision rendering them anew.”

“ ‘Critical Utopias: The Art of Futurismo Latino’ is particularly apt for UC Riverside as it is a Hispanic-serving institution, which is reflected not only on the campus but in the surrounding community, too,” said Stephen Cullenberg, Dean, College of Humanities, Arts, & Social Sciences (CHASS) at UC Riverside. “I am also pleased that our scholars are contributing to exhibitions at the Riverside Art Museum and in Hollywood that will examine the influence of Spanish Colonial Revival architecture on the Inland region, and the impact of Latino and Latin American filmmakers on Hollywood and the portrayal of Hispanics in film.”

Hispanic-serving Institutions (HSIs) are nonprofit, degree-granting institutions where more at least 25 percent of full-time undergraduate students are Hispanic. UC Riverside was named an HSI in 2008, the first in the UC system to receive the honor.

logo“We’re very proud to have been selected to be a part of the Getty’s ambitious LA/LA project,” said Rob Latham, professor of English and co-director of UCR’s Science Fiction and Technoculture Studies (SFTS) Program. “ ‘Futurismo Latino’ promises to explore the fertile intersection between a growing technocultural imaginary in U.S. Latino art while linking it to a more longstanding tradition of fantastic and futuristic speculation in Latin America. The project builds on previous work we have done here at UCR on Latino and Chicano science fiction by incorporating the visual arts within a broader geographical context.”

The LA/LA project “will further enhance UCR’s reputation as the center of research on Latino and Chicano science fiction,” added Sherryl Vint, professor of English and co-director of the SFTS program, noting that UCR hosted a one-day event in April celebrating Latino and Chicano science fiction, the first such event of its kind. It “builds on a growing body of speculative fiction that confronts issues of colonialism and the ongoing intersections of science and technology with systemic racism, and contributes to a growing field of Latino futurism that both critiques these legacies and articulates a distinctly Latino perspective on our technologized present and possible futures.”

“Futurismo Latino” will encompass the 8,000 square feet that comprise the changing exhibition galleries at UCR ARTSblock’s three venues — California Museum of Photography (CMP), Culver Center of the Arts, and Sweeney Art Gallery — all of which are housed on one site in the 3800 block of Main Street in downtown Riverside.

“The exhibition will build on UCR ARTSblock’s past exhibitions and accompanying publications that have featured artists from Latin America,” said Jonathan Green, executive director of UCR ARTSblock. Such exhibitions include: “Mexico at the Hour of Combat: Sabino Osuna’s Photographs of the Mexican Revolution” (2012); “Margarita Cabrera: Pulso y Martillo (Pulse and Hammer)” (2011); “Las Olvidadas: The Forgotten Women: Photographs by Maya Goded” (2011); “Pedro Álvarez: The Signs Pile Up” (2008); “Che Guevara: Revolutionary and Icon” (2006–2012, travelled); and “Lines of Sight: Views of the U.S./Mexican Border” (2002).

“Futurismo Latino” will utilize the world’s largest holding of science fiction materials, the Eaton Collection of Science Fiction and Fantasy in Special Collections & Archives, part of the UCR Libraries. The Eaton Collection sponsors a biennial scholarly science fiction conference. A session at the 2015 conference will discuss research uncovered through The Getty Foundation planning grant, while the 2017 conference will coincide with the implementation grant for the exhibition/book, allowing for several sessions to focus on the same themes.

“Melissa Conway, head of Special Collections & Archives at the UCR Libraries who is responsible for the administration of the Eaton Collection of Science Fiction & Fantasy, has conducted an ongoing effort to increase Spanish-language holdings in science fiction at UCR,” Stallings said. She co-chairs, with Latham and Vint, the Eaton Conference. In 2012, she acquired a major collection of science fiction and fantasy pulp magazines published in Argentina, Chile, México, and Spain for the UCR Libraries’ Eaton Collection.

The UCR research team is comprised of Stallings, Szupinska-Myers, Hernandez, Latham, Vint and Conway. Serving as outside advisors are: Rocio Aranda-Alvarado, curator at El Museo del Barrio in New York City; Lysa M. Rivera, assistant professor of English at Western Washington University who studies the science fiction of multicultural America; Miguel Ángel Fernández-Delgado, researcher for the Instituto Nacional de Estudios Historicos de las Revoluciones de Mexico; Rebeca Noriega Costas, project curator at the Universidad de Puerto Rico in Cayey; and Alfredo Luiz Suppia, who is conducting a research project on realism and world science fiction film at the University of São Paulo.

Riverside Art Museum

Patricia Morton, associate professor and chair of the UCR Department of Art History, and Susan Straight, distinguished professor of creative writing, will join the planning team of architects and historic preservation consultants for the Riverside Art Museum exhibition, “Spanish Colonial Revival in the Inland Empire.” The museum received a $75,000 planning grant to develop an exhibition that will examine the architecture that has been part of the aesthetic fabric of the Inland Empire for a century.

Morton will produce an essay that examines the ways in which the Mission and Spanish revival styles “have infiltrated, proliferated and influenced the vernacular style of the Inland Empire region through the Mid-Century period.”

While Mission Revival architecture is associated with such famous monuments as the Mission Inn, it has also become a ubiquitous part of the Inland Empire’s built environment, she explained. “Mission and Spanish Colonial styles have made their mark on the tract houses, fast food restaurants (e.g. Taco Bell), office parks and ordinary buildings of the region,” she said. “By taking a historical and critical look at these everyday environments, the project will give us insight into the invented cultural heritage expressed by the Mission and Spanish revivals and their impact on the region’s identity.”

Straight will collaborate with photographer and artist Doug McCulloh on this project on an illustrated essay about contemporary uses of Spanish Colonial Revival buildings in the downtown area that were built long ago by Mexican-American workmen from this area.

“We will look at the imaginative invention of a style that didn’t really exist until the romantic notions of Southern California transformed this area, and how the Mexican material and men are often overlooked,” she said. “Part of the story will be about the Mission Inn, and the Mexican American men and women who work there now, are married there, and how they look at the buildings.”

Hollywood Connection

Cortés, professor of history emeritus and longtime cultural consultant to the popular children’s TV program “Dora the Explorer,” is part of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences team planning the exhibition “From Latin America to Hollywood: Latino Film Culture in Los Angeles 1967-2017.”

The research team is planning: a film series, which Cortés hopes will screen in Riverside as well as Los Angeles; a publication to accompany the film series, to which Cortés will contribute; and videotaped oral history interviews.

“Deciding who will be included will be challenging because there are so many people and films to choose from,” he said. “We are looking for films that will show the trajectory and robustness of Latino and Latin American filmmakers over time. There s a rich collection to draw from.”


The J. Paul Getty Trust is an international cultural and philanthropic institution devoted to the visual arts that includes the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Getty Research Institute, the Getty Conservation Institute, and the Getty Foundation. The J. Paul Getty Trust and Getty programs serve a varied audience from two locations: the Getty Center in Los Angeles and the Getty Villa in Malibu. The Getty Foundation fulfills the philanthropic mission of the Getty Trust by supporting individuals and institutions committed to advancing the greater understanding and preservation of the visual arts in Los Angeles and throughout the world.

UCR ARTSblock is located at 3824 and 3834 Main St., Riverside, Calif., and includes three venues: California Museum of Photography, Culver Center of the Arts, and Sweeney Art Gallery, which are open Tuesday through Saturday, noon to 5 p.m., plus  6 to 9 p.m. for First Thursday ArtWalks. Admission is $3, which includes entry to all three venues, and is free during First Thursday ArtWalks (6-9 p.m.). For film screenings, Culver Center opens 30 minutes prior to the start time.

Media Contact

Tel: (951) 827-7847
Twitter: bettyemiller

Additional Contacts

Tyler Stallings
Tel: (951) 827-1463

Joanna Szupinska-Myers
Tel: (951) 827-4788

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