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Mirco Machines

Micro Machines

Boy with the white skin and blue eyes

Knows a lot about art

This brings a smile to the white face of a museum docent

She asks the boy how he knows so much

The boy replies,

“My uncle is an artist”

The boy says this without a hint of cynicism or derision


To him

Is the greatest thing a person can be:

An artist

The docent asks the boy,

“What’s his name?”

“Frank Romero”

“What does your uncle paint?”


“He paints old cars”

American cars from the 1920s


And 50s


Palm trees


And familiar streets

As the background

Always bold in color

With a zigzagged impasto stroke

The kind of thing you see that immediately makes you say,

“That’s a Romero”

The boy suggests to the docent,

“Maybe he has something here?”

A pause from her, then,

“There’s an auto museum down the street

Maybe he has something there”

No, that doesn’t seem right...

“Maybe what you mean is - - he paints - - cars”

There’s a dusty wood and tin garage under this museum

And the docent has put his uncle into it

They call this aggression

But, really, it’s so easy, as she does it

But, his uncle doesn’t look the same there

His uncle

With bold, striped sweaters

Full, wild hair and beard

Laugh, big enough to fill a room

Larger than-life-personality

Looks very different in the docent’s garage

To her, his uncle is a tiny uncle

With a shaved head

Brown Pendleton and Dickies

Navy work apron

And silver spray can in hand

He paints with that

In place of a brush

The cars in the garage

Are smaller too

Micro machines

And like them

The boy feels small

And getting smaller

His hopes

His pride

All of the world and its colors

Shrinking into a vanishing point

Because he knows what she means

I know what she means

Couldn’t expand on these ideas fast enough

There is nothing wrong with painting cars

Painting pictures of cars

Or, dressing like a cholo

But, we are not all the same

You can’t paint us all with the same brush

Fit us all into the same stroke

Whatever the medium

There is nothing wrong with taking pride in your work

But, what is wrong

Is for anyone to assume

That we are a smaller people

A lesser people

It is wrong to assume

That any one of us can’t be acclaimed

Can’t hang

In your museum

Give him the top floor

Because my uncle is an artist

A painter

His work has hung in galleries the world over

You can find him in the Smithsonian

See his mural in LA

By the 101

And, yes

He, like me

Is a Mexican

My uncle is an artist

A painter

Who’s been paid to paint cars

That were literally

Bigger than the Mona Lisa

My uncle is an artist

A painter

And like me he knows how to use

The principle of diminution

Which is making objects smaller in a piece of art

To help create a sense of perspective

My uncle is an artist

A painter

And he doesn’t get paid to talk about paintings

He gets paid to paint them

With checks

Larger than your desperate attempts

To try and re-frame him

I won't let any of you

Make me feel small about

Any of us

Ever again.


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