Juan Silverio: Rehaciendo the Aesthetics of Queer Latinidad and Barrios in Los Angeles

Portrait of Young Curator Juan Silverio. Courtesy of photographer Jenny Payan.

Portrait of Young Curator Juan Silverio. Courtesy of photographer Jenny Payan.


Juan Manuel Silverio is an undergraduate student studying Art and Chicano/a Studies at the University of California Santa Barbara and is this year’s Young Curator Program recipient. During his time at Self Help Graphics, he has worked exhaustively for the past 6 weeks to curate the experience Hacer, Deshacer, y Rehacer. This exhibition is based primarily on works from Self Help Graphics & Art’s collection, but also includes paintings, drawings and more. In this exhibition, Juan privileges a select range of historical and contemporary perspectives on specific Los Angeles neighborhoods and the Latino male body. This is his effort to highlight the evolution of aesthetic responses to these issues, and create a conversation of “how queerness has manifested in a Latinx LA that hasn’t always been accepting of queerness and queer people”.

As a queer Latinx Los Angeles native from the neighborhood of Koreatown, Silverio realizes that his home has not always been accepting of him and those alike. He prioritizes queer Latinx voices and concerns that have been left out or obscured from the larger story of latinidad in Los Angeles. “When we think of Latino LA, we think of it as hetero: low rider, homeboy, masculine, and very heteronormative”, Silverio states. He uses his platform as the Young Curator this year to uplift the voices that have not been given enough recognition, to refashion the idea of what it means to be “Latino” in Los Angeles.

Ibañez y Bueno ,   Vato Loco,   1973. Serigraph 22 1/2 in 17 1/2 in.

Ibañez y BuenoVato Loco,  1973. Serigraph 22 1/2 in 17 1/2 in.


Initially intrigued by Self Help Graphics & Art’s archives, Silverio took special interest in the story of Carlos Bueno and Antonio Ibanez, a queer immigrant couple from Mexico who played a crucial role to the foundations of our organization. Bueno and Ibanez were artists and first members Self Help Graphics & Art; their story is not one that is usually highlighted. As a result, Juan became interested in weaving together stories by a select group of artists that address specific LA barrios, landmarks, queerness and latinidad. He felt a responsibility to give prominence to a range of perspectives that is over 4 decades in the making. Juan’s exhibition aims to foster an intergenerational conversation about depictions of LA landscapes and the Latino male body.

Juan Silverio in the process of choosing drawings from Manuel Lopez's collection for consideration in  Hacer, Deshacer, y Rehacer . 

Juan Silverio in the process of choosing drawings from Manuel Lopez's collection for consideration in Hacer, Deshacer, y Rehacer

Building off of SHG’s groundbreaking “Homohombre LA” experimental print atelier of 2007 which provided a platform for queer brown artists, Hacer, Deshacer, y Rehacer brings together depictions of the body and space. Images such as the tough demeanored East Los Angeles cholos of George Yepes’ untitled drawing is placed alongside Rigo Maldonado’s Hard To Swallow confrontation with Latino machismo. The exhibition also pairs landscapes, like the utopian reimagining of South Central in Trenely “Clover” Garcia’s print, Los Caminos de la Vida, with master draftsman Frank Hernandez’s Untitled barrio landscape print. This curatorial premise focuses on the artistic tensions involved in making, unmaking and remaking personal and collective Latinx identities.

Frank Hernandez ,   Untitled,  ca 1975. Serigraph 22 in  x 30 in.

Frank HernandezUntitled, ca 1975. Serigraph 22 in  x 30 in.


Juan, an artist himself, sees curation as something similar to art making “A curator can also be an artist, although they do not have a piece in the show, the process (of curation) is the art.” The opportunity to be the Young Curator this year has nurtured his thinking process as an artist and has allowed him to look at the art world through a different lens.

When Juan is not making art or curating, he indulges in Netflix binge-watching, he is currently waiting for the final season of Jane the Virgin. His top music preferences right now are, Jose Jose, Lila Downs, Natalia Lafourcade, and Juan Gabriel. Come meet Juan and join us for  Hacer, Deshacer, y Rehacer, opening on August 9 with a reception from 6 - 9pm and continuing through September 21 from 9am - 5pm here at Self Help Graphics & Art!

Giani Chavez is a Self Help Graphics & Art Getty Multicultural Undergraduate Intern from Grinnell College