by Isabella Silva-Biotti and Chris Alvarez
Chicano artist Jimmy Longoria doesn’t illustrate Mexican history. He doesn’t seek to romanticize the past. Instead, he has envisioned how to look forward. While honoring the roots of Latinx and Chicano culture may be essential, the artist desires to show the contemporary generations the importance of the successful and promising futures ahead of us.
Jimmy Longoria is working on the bathroom art of Chef Gustavo Romero’s restaurant Nixta. The word Nixta (-mal) comes from the term of liming kernels of corn to ground into masa for tacos. Nixta’s tortillas begin as kernels of corn, an heirloom corn from Mexico, and process it traditionally to then adapt it to professional restaurants.
“The reason that a very expensive artist is doing a bathroom for food is because these people produce Mexican food at the level of art,” Longoria said. The process of ‘nitxamalizing’ begins at night by letting it sit. The next morning, the nixtamal is cleaned and the skin of the corn is removed, so to grind them and make tortillas. Each step of the process requires a lot of patience to achieve the final product, which is deliciously unique.
NewPrensa writer Chris Alvarez had the opportunity to speak with Longoria and Romero to understand these processes, the connection between the two artists, and to taste test a secret sauce before the restaurant’s opening in late April, 2023.
In Minnesota, he’s “THE Chicano artist.” Longoria is a sought-after artist who incorporates an engaging art experience that captivates audiences across the states to continue decoding the complexities of his strokes, with a signature theme of looking towards the future. Additionally, he has an original painting at the Bush Foundation and has had the famous comedian Cheech Marin (from Cheech and Chong) display his artwork in his California home.
When working on the Nixta bathroom, Longoria wanted to transform it “from a tight dark hole into this expansive universe.” The bathroom was a dark blue that is now filled with colorful lacy brush strokes and markers, and worth $50,000 dollars, according to the Chicano artist.
Why is Chicano art so hot right now? The economy is wavering and there are different currencies at war. The people who have money understand that money isn’t just one thing. “The secret to buying art is rarity, verifiable identity and the artist dying,” Longoria said.
Longoria feels like he’s working 20 years ahead of himself. What makes his art so unique is that he emphasizes the beauty of comprehending a culture’s trials and tribulations to – as a true Tejano mindset – focus on working on achieving the triumphs that can be reached.
The reason that Longoria has decided to work on the bathroom art for Nixta is due to the commitment of doing art at the same level. On the mural, visitors and admirers can find motifs such as as a corn plant with roots, grasshoppers, crickets, ants, jaguars, mares, armadillo, iguanas, Quetzal (bird), the face of wind, and more flora and fauna.
These motifs symbolize the growth and the lessons that are learned in our path to achieving success and greatness in America. Longoria’s art serves as a trajectory to Chicano roots and identity. As the beautiful Longoria art pieces sit behind people, the canvases tell stories unrecognizable to some but undeniably part of a collective that has propelled into forward and transformational thinking.
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