From the 2008 Exhibit
ChismeArte can trace its graphic and literary influences to a pair of magazines with distinct visions of Chicano urban experience.
Con Safos, founded in 1967 by a group of East L.A. authors and artists, took its name from the Caló word with which Pachucos signed their placas, or barrio wall writings, to warn readers that any attempt to deface it will be punished in kind. Its editors used the term to express a defiant “rejection of ‘American Identity,’” and to assert a new “a definition of Chicano identity.” One of the magazine’s most popular features, the “Barriology Exam,” writes Raúl Homero Villa, “tested readers’ knowledge of barrio traditions and culture, with the highest scores earning a ‘Ph.D. in Barriology.’” The exclusive serialization of Oscar Z. Acosta’s, The Autobiography of A Brown Buffalo, represents the magazine’s biggest publishing coups.
Tin-Tan: Revista Cósmica, founded in 1975 in San Francisco’s Mission District, reflected its home and namesake, Germán Valdés, the wisecracking Mexican movie comic who borrowed his style from the Chicano Zoot Suiter.
With Alejandro Murguía as its editor, Tin-Tan strove to connect with La Misión’s Mexican, Chilean, and Central American micro cosmos by publishing and reviewing the best in Latin American revolutionary literature. It published six issues featuring works in English or Spanish translation of Latin American writers such as Roque Dalton, Ernesto Cardenal, and Fernando Alegría, Chicano-Latino U.S. poets Pedro Pietri and Víctor Hernández Cruz, and Chicano-Latina artists Consuelo Méndez, Rupert García, and Rene Yañez.
In ChismeArte, the “playful promotion” of East Los “cultural knowledge” celebrated in Con Safos crossed paths with the hemispheric, pan-Latino, sin fronteras literary vision of Tin-Tan.