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Portraits in Color

Finding Family Trees

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In May of 2018, Tess took a DNA test and submitted it to Ancestry. A sealed adoption at birth left her with no details of her birth parents. However, submitting her DNA test was more about learning her ethnicity than finding new family members.

Lacey submitted her DNA to Ancestry in 2015 at the urging of her sister Amy, who is the family historian. Unlike Tess, she was not adopted and wanted to learn more about her family history.

Little did they know their worlds would collide. Their DNA results would reveal deeply buried family secrets, unexpected branches to their family trees, and would provide answers that they were not necessarily seeking. Follow all of the interesting twists and turns of their story on the latest episode of Portraits in Color.

If you would like assistance in finding family members through DNA, Amy McKane is here to help. Please contact her at Your Family History Mystery on Facebook. 

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Portraits in Color

Latino Decisions 2020

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In perfect 2020 fashion, this year’s presidential election has been filled with conspiracy theories, allegations of voter fraud, and unprecedented voter counts and recounts in battleground states. As we near the deadline for states to certify their results, one thing is clear: voter engagement during this election cycle–pandemic and all–was at an all time high. 

As the saying goes, victory has many mothers and fathers. There has been no shortage of groups that feel confident that they put the Biden-Harris ticket “over the top.” The Native American population, in particular the Navajo Nation came out big for the democratic ticket. Then there’s the Stacey Abram effect in getting out the African American vote in Georgia that delivered victory in a key swing state. Both of these narratives are true. So, what role did the Latino vote play in this election? 

Dr. Gabe Sanchez, Principal Latino Decisions

To answer this question, Dr. Frank recently had the opportunity to catch up with Dr. Gabe Sanchez, Principal at Latino Decisions and Professor of Political Science at the University of New Mexico to discuss the nuance of the Latino electorate and its impact on the 2020 election.

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Portraits in Color

The Worldwide Appeal of Lowrider Culture

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Historians trace lowrider culture back to the early 30’s and 40’s as an extension of pachuco culture.  If you’re unfamiliar with pachuco culture, check out Edward James Olmos in Zoot Suit.  Yes, he was in other movies beyond Stand and Deliver! Some historians trace its origins to the El Paso/Juarez region, while others say it originated in the barrios of East LA.  We’ll leave that debate to the Tejanos and the East Los crowd.  Post World War II, many ex-military men from the southwest migrated to Los Angeles to work in aircraft factories, bringing along their passion for customized rides.  By the 60’s, lowriders became identified with the Chicano movement, as these cars began to symbolize a proud cultural identity that still exists today. 

Photo: Jeffrey Hertz

These cars are an artistic expression of familia, culture and religion.  They glow with brilliant colors, religious symbols, and wired rims. You might see the sparks fly from their bodies scraping the pavement as they creep down the street “low and slow” or hear the squeaks of the hydraulics as they bounce from side-to-side.  

Lowrider exhibit Albuquerque International Sunport

Lowrider culture has had significant influence in the worlds of music, fashion, and art.  Back in the 70’s, you could hear War’s Chicano Rock anthem Lowrider pulsating from car speakers on downtown streets from Burque to LA.  The marriage between car culture and music re-emerged in the 90’s with videos featuring South Central LA rappers Eazy E and Dr. Dre.  Remember the G-thang video?  Lowrider influenced fashion even made its way into mainstream pop music.  Do you remember Gwen Stefani rocking the chola look in her early No Doubt days?  

Lowriders as an expression of mobile art can be found in prominent art galleries, in national museums like the Smithsonian, and adorning international avenues from Japan to Australia. Facebook groups highlighting Lowrider Culture have six-figure followings and towns, like Española, NM have branded themselves the Lowrider Capital of the World.   

I think it’s safe to say, the culture has officially moved from the underground to the mainstream.

Dr. Frank recently had the opportunity to catch up with two OGs from Duke’s Car ClubFrank Chavez and Albert Muniz to learn more about lowrider culture and its worldwide appeal.

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The Many Faces of CloudFace

We live in an age where artists are becoming adept at using all of the tools at their disposal to express themselves. Cloudface is no different. In fact, Cloudface has also been able to integrate B-Boy, Hip Hop, and dance culture with his native roots to create an interesting amalgam of visual, sonic, and rhythmic art.

Coming from a family of artists and jewelers, Patrick Burnham aka Cloudface was delivered to us as an artist. To him, art is just as essential as air and water. It lives within him. In this episode, we discuss the struggles of artists during this unprecedented time of social distancing. We also talk about musical influences, live vs. studio art forms, and favorite art mediums for artists that like to explore their versatility. 

Be sure to check out Cloudface on Instagram at cloudface.xfrx and support his work by purchasing one of his many prints at https://cloud-face.com/.

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All Chola with Michelle Sena

All Chola kind of happened by accident. “I would have conversations with my friends about chola sayings that we thought were funny, says Michelle Sena, founder of the All Chola lifestyle brand. “I never thought it would actually turn into a business.”

All Chola embodies a strong Chicano/Chicana cultural aesthetic. From the low riders, the fashion, and the music, Michelle Sena introduces the long legacy of the culture, which is rooted in the Pachuco culture of the 40’s and 50’s, through her fashion brand.  

In this episode, we discuss the 150 different meanings behind the word “orale,” talk about the All Chola brand and it’s growing reach, share stories about “the hustle,” and talk about our beloved neighborhood, “The Brick.” 

This episode was produced in partnership with ABQ Artwalk and The Ruppe.