INDIO — One of the most powerful and chilling works of art in recent memory, “149 — Contemporary Thoughts on the Lynchings of Mexicans in California 1848-1895,” is now open to the public.

The 149 exhibit depicting the atrocious lynchings is on display at the Coachella Valley Art Center. It will remain on display through April 21.

“It is a powerful installation,” William “Bill” Schinsky, executive director of the Coachella Valley Art Center told Uken Report.  “My emotional attachment is based on my maternal ancestors being in California since late 1700s.  Mexican land grant family. It is a strong and important exhibition.”

149Americans are largely unaware that Mexicans were frequently the targets of lynch mobs, from the mid-19th century until well into the 20th century, second only to African-Americans in the scale and scope of the crimes, according to the New York Times. One case, largely overlooked or ignored by American journalists but not by the Mexican government, was that of seven Mexican shepherds hanged by white vigilantes near Corpus Christi, Tex., in late November 1873. The mob was probably trying to intimidate the shepherds’ employer into selling his land. None of the killers were arrested.

From 1848 to 1928, mobs murdered thousands of Mexicans, though surviving records allowed us to clearly document only about 547 cases, according to the New York Times. These lynchings occurred not only in the southwestern states of Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas, but also in states far from the border, like Nebraska and Wyoming.

149 was selected as one of the Desert X parallel programs., Schinsky said.

Desert X is a not-for-profit charitable organization founded in 2015 to bring the finest international artists to the Coachella Valley to create art, engage viewers, and focus attention on the Valley’s environment, its natural wonders as well as socio-political-economic issues that make it vibrant, curious, and exciting, according to the organization’s website. 

One of the 149 artists is Wm. Marquez.  The second artist is Marnie l. Navarro (MLN17).  She is approaching the concept in a more contemporary/political manner, Schinsky said.

Hours of the 149 exhibit are Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Fridays and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The Art Center is closed Sundays and Mondays.  You make an appointment to view 149 by contacting bill@coachellavalleyartcenter.org.

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