the irony and the ecstasy

by urquiza!
Posts Tagged ‘arizona’

the ancestral land: arturo no. three

mr. churro arturo no. one (link)

after the grand canyon arturo no. two (link)

he likes to present himself as absolute, an urquiza family trait probably something we brought from spain. even in the family home everything has a finality as well, but like all fathers it seems they relent eventually. you can see the dialogue between lisa his wife, devon and tristen that either support or challenges the hierarchy. in this world his daughter devon is his hope. he believes she is greater than the sum of he and lisa, while tristen is his innocence. it is the self he keeps hidden from everyone. there is a photograph my sister carmen took of him with his cousin loui as boys playing on a big wheel tricycle. i think that moment or perhaps that photograph helped define him. photography is tricky business like that, does it project? or does it reflect?

these images took place during our expedition of sorts to visit the town of his great grandparents and where our branch of tapias in the united states grew from. globe, arizona was once the capital and the county seat where francisco tapia owned the dodge dealership. he sold cars and trucks to the indians and mexicans. even as a dark skinned mestizo his wealth as local leader allowed him to participate in the mainstream white culture to an extent. arturo is highly assimilated into american culture, but desires to understand his origins or perhaps find some cloak to define himself. sitting in the globe church that our ancestors may have sat in, i asks the same questions of myself. but also, this place is one step closer to Isabel his grandmother, who grew up here with her sisters playing among the pueblo ruins before it was turned into a park and visitors center. closer to my grandmother felicitas who would sit on the hilltop old western cemetery to tend the gravestones of the unknown with my mother. just as isabel did with me in the cemeteries of los angeles. he does not walk alone into the future, lisa, devon and tristen all walk resolute together through the desert to where they are going.

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the youngest elder

i remember arizona through my aunt eloise’s house, wild and faded. beaten by the sun and heat, the economics of race and my latent family along the salt river. from there i can see my grandmother’s apron and stern face whom i never knew in person only by photograph. my aunt eloise’s daughter, my cousin raquel… i always thought she had such an exotic name. she was a nurse and married to gustavo guiterez the farm labour and native american activists of arizona. gustavo passed earlier that year. it was “raquee’s” turn now. my mother always wanted me to know them better. she told me once, “gus is a communist”. it was the cold war and he had the beard to prove it. the thing i think they had was the love and respect for other people. that is what she wanted me to know with them. whatever trouble gus got into as an activist, they shared it. “raquee” was cesar chavez’s nurse when he fasted for 22 days, while gus organised across mexico and the southwest. they were always helping, doing, traveling in an old truck or van. though my mother and her mother lived in different worlds, the spirit of travel was something they both shared. these same traits i see in my siblings and cousins. she was tapia.

raquel, her daughter’s name as well and gustavo her grandson bend down to begin spreading her ashes in the desert. everyone takes a turn and with a small cup we scoop up some ashes. each of us wanders off into a secluded corner of papago park. you can’t say one name without the other. when gus and raquee moved nearby so many years ago, the area was wild desert. i would hear stories about the salt river and camping trips, pow wows and my cousins voices, “come to arizona and visit, johnny”. the last time i saw raquee was under the mural a local artist painted in their house. we never sit long enough… now it is me telling my nephew arturo, “visit your cousins, they live right down the street from you”.

05.19.12 — 11.10.13

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primos y primas

they are not like us, but we are exactly like them. eyes, nose, mouth and ears, we are copies of our parents as we are copies of copies and copies of each other. perhaps, we keep making copies until we forget our origins.

05.19.12 — 11.10.13

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