LETTERS Vol. 9 No. 51 Aug. 25 - Sept. 2, 2004 Letters to the Editor

Gustavo Arellano’s article "Nuestra SeĖora de Censorship" [Aug. 20] is based on inaccurate information obtained from the website La Voz de Aztlán. Gustavo never contacted me, our guest curator or any museum representative regarding the "Virgin of Guadalupe" exhibit. I was contacted briefly by Ray Beltrán [the story researcher], and I sent him information indicating the La Voz stories were inaccurate. Had Gustavo researched this issue, he would have discovered there is no story nor any "controversy" surrounding the work of Alma López and her participation in our upcoming exhibit.

To clarify a few of the statements made in the article:

We have never "censored" the selections of our guest curator, Lynn LaBate, nor have we censored the work of Alma López. The piece María de Los Angeles was selected months ago by LaBate for inclusion in the exhibit. During the time she was researching possible artwork for the exhibit, she considered several of Ms. López’s works, as well as works by numerous other artists. She eventually selected María de Los Angeles as the piece that best fit the curatorial themes in the exhibit. Again, based on the theme of the exhibit, Our Lady was not one of the works considered for the upcoming exhibit.

Regarding Gustavo’s statement that "there would be no naked Virgins" in our exhibit, we have never had any discussion, agreement or any other communications with the Diocese of Orange or anyone else regarding this matter. I am not aware that any naked Virgin of Guadalupe images were proposed for our exhibit.

The Catholic Church never "went nuts" over any aspect of the exhibit. The representatives of the Catholic Church have never attempted to influence the works selected for the exhibit.

Mr. Arellano states that "it’s no stretch then to figure that Soto’s opposition to Our Lady played a role in its exclusion." Obviously, since Our Lady was never considered for the exhibit, there was no "opposition" by Bishop Soto, no "exclusion" by the museum, etc. Bishop Soto is among a group of community advisers who have assisted us in producing the exhibit.

Joe Felz

Director, Fullerton Museum Center

Gustavo Arellano responds: The "Virgin of Guadalupe: Interpreting Devotion" is likely to be one of the most important exhibits in the local arts scene. Bravo to Joe and his colleagues for putting it together. That said, Joe’s letter is laden with inaccuracies, but one of them stands out: his claim that Our Lady was never considered for the exhibit is something only the most credulous could accept. It raises (yet again) the question of censorship and, maybe (let me say this gently), curatorial judgment: I mean, really, why not even consider showing what is arguably the most famous reinterpretation of the Virgin of Guadalupe? The claim is belied by Joe’s own Aug. 2 e-mail to Fullerton city officials, a communication in which he declared Our Lady "controversial," compared it unfavorably to the "in no way derogatory" Maria de Los Angeles, and assured the officials that his advisory board includes Catholics. With or without Our Lady, when the exhibit opens, I’ll be among the first in line. Hope I get in.

          LETTERS Vol. 9 No. 52 September 3 - 9, 2004 Letters to the Editor


It’s funny that conservative Catholics and other assorted Latinos get so up in arms over the depiction of Alma López’s Virgin [Gustavo Arellano’s "Nuestra SeĖora de Censorship," Aug. 20]. They don’t mind if she is painted on the side of liquor stores or on skateboards, telephone cards and—one of my favorites—fingernail clippers. I must admit she is my favorite goddess—I honor her in any form, especially the fierce way in which Alma presents her. And who made [Bishop] Jaime Soto the voice of the people? He’s probably wearing little Virgin de Guadalupe bikinis under those silly robes.

Randy Pesqueira

Garden Grove