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Tru dat 

Being a poser is a type of currency in Tru Hustla’s world, and everyone uses it. But occasional Current contributor Beto Gonzales is offering a slightly bitter, tragi-comic observation in his one-man Fl!ght show — not a judgment — fueled by a certain amount of self-loathing and a signature Gonzales front: The work is presented almost too casually, as if to say it’s cool if you don’t like it; I didn’t work that hard on it, anyway. At its best, it functions like quick-and-dirty sketch comedy.

Approximately one third of the show consists of white, lace-trimmed “princess” and quinceañera pillows, embroidered with Cinderellas and Tinkerbells, which Gonzales purchased at a flea market and asked an airbrush artist to redecorate with images taken from pop-trash culture and the evening news — gangstas, lowrider die, and Playboy bunnies. It’s subversively funny, and also raises questions: What do we as parents do to realize our dreams for our kids? Are they even worthwhile dreams? But the high-energy soundtrack that accompanies the show discourages deep thought or lengthy reflection — a nice meta touch, maybe.

On an adjacent wall, large silver rings — also commissioned at the flea market, according to Fl!ght Director Justin Parr — spell out SLFH8TR, EMPACHO, SUSTO, and other insecurities. It’s not subtle, but still a pointed commentary on bling as armor, which makes it seem less tacky, more sympathetic. Across the gallery, Gonzales has created pop-culture collages with vinyl cutouts on tinted windshields: athletes, the ubiquitous splashing stream of pee, votives, a diablo, “Cortez” in Old English lettering next to conquistador ships. I like the subtle historical connections he’s trying to make, although I’m not sure the work gets there. Gonzales told me once before that he’s a maximalist, and this approach is often successful for him, but these would benefit from a little more editing.

I’m also not sure what to do with the belt buckle, attached to a long black leather belt, that can be programmed to scroll digital messages between the bedazzled letters P and X (Pollux?) — in this case “Art History.” It feels like something that’s been done before, and maybe that’s the point, but it looks a little cool and a lot ridiculous, and for tweaking the history of art, a la Janson and the Western canon, that might be enough.

Next to the belt hangs the highlight of the show: a blown-up Polaroid of a weary abuelita, reclining in an armchair, holding two babies, each with an actual giant (faux) diamond stud punched through one ear. The caption: “I got it like that.” A pair of tired pink flip-flops sit on a clear acrylic box on the floor beneath the image, extending the picture into the real world, and contrasting poignantly and hilariously with the earring studs. The effect is of being tsk-tsked by the ghost of rascuache — the art of making beauty and glamor with what you have, however threadbare or tacky —  for the misguided aspiration evidenced by misguided consumerism.

Tru Hustla
Through Mar 7

Live Music
Kiss My Crevice
8:30pm Sat, Feb 14

Fl!ght gallery
1906 S. Flores

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February 24, 2021

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