Post No Bills in Spanish, 2011, Acrylic and Paper Collage, 24"x 18" (Property of the Artist).
The roots of Willie Báez's ironic image, "Post No Bills in Spanish," can be easily traced to urban contemporary experience. In the composition, three human shadows are painted against a pavement (or wall) backdrop, which is comprised of foreign currency collaged as a papery foundation to the canvas. The three shadows identify inner city youngsters, stopping to look at a sign that reads, "Post no bills in Spanish." Surrounding the edges of the canvas, the artist has painted red, white and blue stars and stripes, identifying the American flag.
The painting signifies that despite the social and political progress of the Hispanic community and their contributions to American society, this kind of unfair propaganda ("the writing on the wall") still exists causing an unfortunate and hurtful scar within the community. However, "artistically speaking," Baez's painting of the three shadows can be compared to urban street expression (i.e., graffiti), a widespread socio-artistic tendency in neighborhoods (barrios) all across the United States of America.
The piece "Post No Bills in Spanish" is a reminder that this kind of behavior has been repeated throughout the history of America and almost every ethnic group that arrives "here" falls victim to discrimination and intolerance. It's an unfortunate legacy, but the question is, "when will it end?" Why is this sort of malevolent conduct still embedded in the American consciousness, as if it were an engrained part of our culture?
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