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Los Angeles was once the mural capital of the world.

Thousands of murals were painted here—and in nearby cities and counties—in the late twentieth century, most of them by Chicana/o artists. Many appeared as part of el movimiento, the Chicana/o civil rights movement. These works challenged what some people believed about art and society.

Instead of working alone, Chicana/o artists often invited community members to help plan and paint. More than decoration, their murals conveyed powerful messages. They called attention to unequal treatment of Mexicans and Mexican Americans; celebrated Chicana/o heritage, history, and neighborhoods; and expressed pride and power. Such qualities threatened people in positions of authority and many responded negatively, endangering Chicana/o murals.

¡Murales Rebeldes! presents stories of eight Chicana/o murals that were censored, neglected, whitewashed, and even destroyed. They are a small fraction of the hundreds of murals under siege. Their fates represent a larger issue: without protection and advocacy, Chicana/o murals—a cornerstone of Los Angeles’s cultural and historical heritage—remain imperiled. We celebrate these important works of public art in the hope that Los Angeles will flourish as mural capital once again.

Visit

September 23, 2017 – February 27, 2018
LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes
501 North Main Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012

For hours and other visitor information please visit http://lapca.org/

 

Muralists, Curators, Advisors

Muralists

David Botello, East Los Streetscapers (b. 1946)
Artist and muralist David Botello has more than forty years of experience working with art and the communities of East Los Angeles. A Los Angeles native, he has trained as a painter, muralist, sculptor, designer, and art restorer. In 1969, Botello joined with brothers Jose Luis and Juan Gonzalez in founding the Goez Art Studio and Gallery as a space for local artists to create, exhibit, and sell art. Four years later, he was among the first artists to paint murals at the Estrada Courts public housing project in Los Angeles. Together with his elementary school friend, Wayne Healy, Botello co-founded Los Dos Streetscapers, known later as East Los Streetscapers. Together, Botello and Healy have produced a wide range of public artworks using a variety of media, including canvas and tile murals as well as porcelain, enamel, and concrete art installations. Botello’s solo and collaborative artwork has been exhibited throughout the United States and Europe. He and Healy continue to work together at their studio in Commerce, California.

Barbara Carrasco (b. 1955)
A Los Angeles-based muralist and artist working in a variety of media, Barbara Carrasco has given key visual representation to the social justice movements of the late twentieth century. Her banners for the United Farm Workers, large-scale public art projects, paintings, and drawings have been featured in numerous publications, and she has exhibited in the United States, Europe, and Latin America. Her mid-career survey exhibition, A Brush with Life, was held at the Vincent Price Art Museum, East Los Angeles College, in 2008, the same year the Girl Scouts of America created a merit patch based on her iconic image of Dolores Huerta. Her original mural sketches and drawings are included in the permanent collection of the Library of Congress, her oral history and documentation of her mural work are archived at the Smithsonian Institution, and a permanent collection of her papers is held at Stanford University. Carrasco received her MFA from the California Institute of the Arts and her BFA from University of California, Los Angeles. She has taught at University of California, Santa Barbara and Loyola Marymount University and was appointed the 2002–2003 University of California Regents professor at University of California, Riverside. The recipient of numerous fellowships and grants, she serves as a board member of the Dolores Huerta Foundation.

Yreina D. Cervántez (b. 1952)
Yreina D. Cervántez is a third-generation Chicana, born in Garden City, Kansas, raised in Southern California and currently based in Los Angeles. She earned a BA in Fine Arts from the University of California, Santa Cruz and an MFA from the University of California, Los Angeles. She is a tenured professor in the department of Chicana/o studies at California State University, Northridge. Working primarily in painting, printmaking, and muralism, Cervántez’s art combines imagery and ideologies from indigenous cultures and urban Los Angeles. She has exhibited at Avenue 50 Studio, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, Self Help Graphics and Art, Skirball Cultural Center, Social and Public Arts Resource Center (SPARC), and Tropico de Nopal Gallery Art-Space. Her work is held in several collections, including LACMA, Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, and the Smithsonian Institution and has appeared in numerous publications.

Roberto Chavez (b. 1932)
Artist and educator Roberto Chavez profoundly influenced the first-wave Chicana/o art movement in East Los Angeles, where he was born. He earned a BA and an MA in pictorial arts from University of California, Los Angeles. A United States Navy veteran, he trained as a photographer’s mate during his service. Chavez began his teaching career at UCLA Extension and in 1969 joined the faculty at East Los Angeles College (ELAC), where he co-founded the Chicana/o studies department and developed new courses in Mexican art, pre-Columbian art, Chicana/o literature, and Teatro. He taught at ELAC through 1981. Chavez produced murals across the city, including in Westwood and Estrada Courts, and showed with Ceeje Gallery throughout the 1960s. He has exhibited in galleries and museums throughout the United States, including the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Autry Museum of the American West, and Pasadena Museum of California Art. In 2014, the Vincent Price Art Museum presented a retrospective exhibition of his work, Roberto Chavez and the False University.

Ernesto de la Loza (b. 1949)
Born in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles, Ernesto de la Loza has created artwork for the city’s communities for over forty years. As an active member of the Chicana/o mural movement, he brought art to working-class Chicana/o communities, filling concrete walls with images that inspire unity, consciousness, and hope. De la Loza served as the project director for the Estrada Courts murals and has painted about forty-five public artworks throughout Los Angeles. Additionally, he has used muralism as a platform for training young, self-taught artists to take chances and develop new public art forms and visual languages that represent cultures often rendered invisible within U.S. society. De la Loza’s aesthetic palette takes cues from his travels abroad and his commercial work as well as his public art. He has studied plein air, airbrush, oil, and easel painting, and as a commercial artist, he gained skills in painting signs and billboards, hand lettering, and typography, developing the versatility and technical skill needed to explore painting in numerous aesthetic styles. De la Loza has served on the board of Mural Conservancy of Los Angeles and taught courses at Self Help Graphics and Art. He continues to produce new art and restore his murals.

Wayne Alaniz Healy, East Los Streetscapers (b. 1946)
Despite being the grandson of muralist Adolfo Alaniz and a member of a highly artistic family, Wayne Alaniz Healy initially pursued a BS in aerospace engineering and a BS in mathematics from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, and later received an MS in mechanical engineering from University of Cincinnati. He worked as an aerospace engineer before becoming a full-time artist and muralist in 1991; eight years later, he officially earned his MFA in art from California State University, Northridge.

Healy began selling his paintings in Cincinnati during the late 1960s. He later returned to East Los Angeles, where he was raised, and immersed himself in the mural movement through the Mechicano Art Center. In 1975, he cofounded Los Dos Streetscapers (now East Los Streetscapers) with grade-school friend and fellow artist David Botello. After two decades of painting murals, the Streetscapers developed multimedia public art projects using sculptural and architectural elements, combining Healy’s talents in art and engineering.

Healy’s solo work includes serigraphs, silkscreens, and etchings in addition to drawings and paintings. He has participated in exhibitions around the world, and his art is held in private collections on six continents. He has also worked as an educator, training young artists through East Los Streetscapers and offering workshops, lectures, and participatory projects for K-12 youth. He has taught at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona; California State University, Northridge; and Otis College of Art and Design.

Alma López (b. 1966)
Over the last two decades, Alma López’s art has been exhibited in more than one hundred national and international solo and group exhibitions in Mexico, Italy, Ireland, and throughout the United States. Collections of her work are at Museum of International Folk Art, Oakland Museum of California, and McNay Art Museum. Born in Mexico and raised in Los Angeles, López received her BA with Distinction in art from University of California, Santa Barbara and her MFA from University of California, Irvine.

In 1999, La Gente magazine dubbed López a “Digital Diva” for her groundbreaking, photo-based digital series Lupe & Sirena. That series, and most of López’s visual work, raises questions about popular Mexican icons from a radical Chicana feminist lesbian viewpoint. One of those images, Our Lady, is the subject of the book Our Lady of Controversy: Alma López’s “Irreverent Apparition,” which López co-edited with Alicia Gaspar de Alba. López continues to work as a visual artist and teacher and currently teaches courses on Chicana/Latina art and artists, Arts Censorship, and Los Angeles Queer Art and Artists for the Cesar E. Chavez Department of Chicana/o Studies and the LGBTQ Studies Program at the University of California, Los Angeles. Through her work, activism, and popular website, López is considered one of the most visible and cutting-edge queer Chicana feminist activist artists.

Sergio O’Cadiz Moctezuma (1934–2002)
Sergio O’Cadiz studied architecture at Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico before settling in Huntington Beach and establishing an art and architectural design studio in Costa Mesa. He later moved his studio to the City of Orange, becoming an important presence in Orange County’s gallery scene, gaining notoriety in the community, and making significant contributions to Southern California’s public art landscape. He participated in the Chicana/o mural movement and also created public architectural designs and sculptures. O’Cadiz developed an eclectic style and expansive body of work, informed by European masters as well as pre-Columbian and Catholic iconography that reflected his Mexican identity and Jesuit education. A muralist in the Mexican tradition (drawing inspiration from Diego Rivera, Jose Orozco, and David Alfaro Siqueiros and their Aztec and Mayan precursors), O’Cadiz invented an original, poured-concrete relief mural technique exemplified in the stunning façades of Santa Ana City Hall and Cypress College Auditorium. He was an architect, freelance designer, and consultant while also pursuing his creative work as a prolific painter and sculptor until his sudden death in 2002. His distinctive artistic legacy lives on in his many public works throughout Southern California.

George Yepes, East Los Streetscapers, (b. 1955)
George Yepes was born in Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico. He participated in the Chicana/o mural movement as a founding partner of key muralist collectives, including Public Art Center, El Centro de Arte Publico, Concilio de Arte Popular, and Corazon Art Productions. From the late 1970s to 1985, he worked with muralists David Botello and Wayne Healy, forming the collective East Los Streetscapers. Born in Baja, Mexico, he was raised and educated in East Los Angeles. After earning a degree in business administration from California State University, Los Angeles, he took painting classes at East Los Angeles City College, working for many years as both an accountant and a muralist. In 1992, he established the Academia de Arte Yepes, the first free mural art academy for students in Los Angeles. In 1993, Yepes and his students participated in a fourteen-year series of projects resulting in The Marriage of Art, Science and Technology, the first national education model for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. That year, he also partnered with architect Ricardo Legorreta to design seven public transit stations beneath East Los Angeles for the Los Angeles Subway project. In 1998, Yepes was selected to create a 70-foot vaulted ceiling mural, The Promise, at the state capitol in Sacramento. He has painted social, historical, and sacred images seen in museums, churches, and hotels; on guitars, record albums, and book covers; and in movies. His work is in forty museum collections and numerous private collections.

Curators

Erin M. Curtis
Erin M. Curtis earned a PhD in American studies and an MA in public humanities at Brown University. She was a Smithsonian Institution predoctoral fellow at the National Museum of American History, and has written for Eating Asian America: A Food Studies Reader (New York University Press, 2013) and Hidden Stories of Chinese Restaurants in the Americas (forthcoming). Curtis is currently senior curator at LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes in Los Angeles, and previously held positions at the Skirball Cultural Center and Local Projects.

Jessica Hough
Jessica Hough earned her MA in curatorial studies from Bard College and her BA in art history from Occidental College. She is director of exhibitions at the California Historical Society, where she has worked since 2012, overseeing the production of several exhibitions each year and serving on the senior management team. Previously she was director of exhibitions, publications, and programs at the Hammer Museum at UCLA, director of the Mills College Art Museum, and curatorial director at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum.

Guisela Latorre
Guisela Latorre earned a PhD in art history from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and an MA in art history from University of Cincinnati, Ohio. She specializes in modern and contemporary U.S. Latina/o and Latin American art with an emphasis on gender and women artists. Her first book, Walls of Empowerment: Chicana/o Indigenist Murals of California (University of Texas Press, 2008), explores the recurrence of indigenous motifs in Chicana/o community murals from the 1970s to the turn of the millennium.

Advisors

Gustavo Arellano
Gustavo Arellano is the editor of OC Weekly, an alternative newspaper in Orange County, California; author of Orange County: A Personal History (Simon and Schuster, 2008) and Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America (Scribner, 2012); an essayist for various publications; and a frequent commentator on radio and television. He earned an MA in Latin American studies from UCLA. His work includes ¡Ask a Mexican!, a nationally syndicated column in which he answers any and all questions about America’s spiciest and largest minority.

Susana Smith Bautista
Ms. Smith Bautista is an expert on museums, digital technology, the arts, and strategic communication. She completed her PhD as a Provost Fellow at the Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism, University of Southern California, where she also received her MA degree in Art History/Museum Studies with honors (Phi Kappa Phi). Her art historical expertise includes Chicana/o, Latina/o, and modern/contemporary Latin American art. She has over twenty-five years of experience in the art world in Los Angeles, New York, and Greece working with museums, commercial galleries, and nonprofit art spaces; curating exhibitions on Latina/o art; lecturing; and writing art criticism and articles. She was Executive Director of the Mexican Cultural Institute of Los Angeles, Editorial Director of www.LatinArt.com, Associate with the Daniel Saxon Gallery, and Deputy Director/Director of Public Engagement for the USC Pacific Asia Museum. Born in Pasadena, California, Smith Bautista served the city as Arts and Culture Commissioner for six years. She researches the role of museums in the digital age, how new technologies are affecting traditional museum practices and communities, and digital literacy needs in museums. She is the author of Museums in the Digital Age: Changing Meanings of Place, Community, and Culture (AltaMira Press, 2013). Smith Bautista has presented her research at numerous international conferences and has taught at both the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Claremont Graduate University’s Arts Management Program. Recently she was part of the research team for the Getty’s Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA exhibition Aztlán to Magulandia: the Journey of Chicano Artist Gilbert “Magu” Luján at UC Irvine Art Gallery, October 7–December 16, 2017. She serves as executive director of the Pasadena Museum of California Art.

Isabel Rojas-Williams
Born in Santiago, Chile, Isabel Rojas-Williams has lived in Southern California since 1973 and has actively studied, documented, and lectured on the social-political art movements of Los Angeles. Her work includes teaching art history at California State University, Los Angeles, where she also earned her MA in Art History, and curating multiple exhibitions documenting the city’s rich legacy of urban art. Among her many professional accomplishments is the inclusion of her thesis Los Angeles Street Mural Movement, 1930–2009 in the research archives of Sala de Arte Público Siqueiros in Mexico City. Rojas-Williams has received numerous awards for her curatorial, civic, and creative contributions to Los Angeles. In 2009, she was appointed as an advisor for the Siqueiros Interpretative Center and served as Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s art liaison (2009–13) to the Latino Heritage Committee, African American Committee, and Asian American Committee. She is also the vice president of Los Angeles-Mexico Sister Cities program. In 2010, her video Siqueiros: a Muralist in Exile, which includes her research on murals from the United States, Argentina, and Chile, was exhibited at the Museum of Latin American Art as part of the Siqueiros Paisajista/Siqueiros: Landscape Painter exhibition. The video was honored by Chile’s President Sebastián Piñera for documenting the artistic connection between Chilean Nobel laureate Pablo Neruda and Mexican muralist David Alfaro Siqueiros. The Pablo Neruda Foundation has also added her research on Siqueiros to its archives. In her former position as Executive Director of the Mural Conservancy of Los Angeles, Rojas-Williams played a major role in the crafting of the mural ordinance signed by Mayor Garcetti in 2013, which lifted the 2002 mural moratorium on private property in Los Angeles. In October 2014, the Los Angeles City Council honored her as one of the fifteen “Latinas in the Arts” who has made an impact in the cultural landscape of Los Angeles. In January 2016, Rojas-Williams was chosen by City Council and City Impact Lab as one of the exceptional “2016 Impact Makers to Watch.”

Sybil Venegas
Ms. Venegas is an art historian, writer, independent curator, and Professor Emerita of Chicana/o Studies at East Los Angeles College. She earned an MA in Art History from UCLA and an MA in Chicano Studies from San Jose State University. She is a renowned scholar in the field of Chicana/o art history and is recognized as an early scholar in Chicana feminist art history and the cultural politics of Día de los Muertos ceremonials in Chicana/o and Latina/o communities. Her articles and curatorial essays are published in numerous catalogs and also appear on her website: www.chicanoart.org. As a commentator on Los Angeles’s curatorial and multicultural visual arts landscape, Professor Venegas’s extensive experience in the Chicana/o art community spanned the early years of Chicana/o art production. Her involvement with Self Help Graphics, the Concilio de Arte Popular and its publication, Chisme Arte, and The Avenue 50 Studio grounded her as a scholar in the field of Chicana/o art history in Los Angeles. Noteworthy among her exhibitions are Expresion Chicana, Mills College, 1976; Image and Identity: Recent Chicana Art from La Reina del Pueblo de Los Angeles de la Porcincula, Laband Art Gallery, Loyola Marymount University, 1990; A Brush With Life: Barbara Carrasco, Mid-Career Survey, Vincent Price Art Museum, East Los Angeles College, 2008. Resurrected Histories: Voices from the Chicano Arts Collectives of Highland Park. Ave 50 Studio, 2011; and Roberto Chavez and the False University: A Retrospective, Vincent Price Art Museum, East Los Angeles College, 2014. She is the curator of Getty’s Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA exhibition Laura Aguilar: Show and Tell, Vincent Price Art Museum, September 16, 2017–April 9, 2018.

Resources

TAKE ACTION

Report Damage to a Mural
If a mural in your community needs maintenance or restoration, email the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) at DCA.PublicArt@lacity.org. Include your contact information, address, and an image of the mural. You can also call the DCA’s Public Art Division’s main line: 213-202-5555.
Register a New or Vintage Mural

The CityWide Mural Program assists with the registration and development of original and vintage murals. Murals created prior to October 12, 2013 are considered vintage original art murals and can be registered by property owners or artists without paying a fee.  For more information go to http://culturela.org/murals/.

The Social and Public Art Resource Center (SPARC) charge for the maintenance and restoration services for murals. MuralShield  is a coating system that protects the durability and restores acrylic and aerosol murals. For more information visit http://sparcinla.org/muralshield/.

Donate

Donating to the Mural Conservancy of Los Angeles (MCLA) and the Social and Public Art Resource Center (SPARC) supports efforts to create and conserve murals in Los Angeles.

Mural Conservancy of Los Angeles (MCLA): https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=VD5Z5SJEQEHD6

Social and Public Art Resource Center (SPARC): http://sparcinla.org/our-causes/

Volunteer

Mural Conservancy of Los Angeles (MCLA): http://www.muralconservancy.org/members/volunteers

Social and Public Art Resource Center (SPARC): http://sparcinla.org/internships-2/

LEARN MORE

Visit a Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA Exhibition

The Great Wall of Los Angeles: Judith F. Baca’s Experimentations in Collaboration and Concrete, California State University, Northridge, October 14–December 16, 2017

EmIgdio Vasquez and El Proletariado de Aztlán: The Geography of Chicano Murals in Orange County, Chapman University, September 13, 2017–January 5, 2018

Prometheus 2017: Four Artists from Mexico Revisit Orozco, Pomona College Museum of Art, August 29–December 16, 2017

Surface Tension by Ken Gonzales-Day: Murals, Signs, and Mark-Making in L.A., Skirball Cultural Center, October 6, 2017–February 25, 2018

Visit a Mural

The Mural Conservancvy of Los Angeles maintains a database of murals in Los Angeles County. Visit the database.

Read a Book

  • Holly Barnet-Sanchez, Tim Drescher, Tomás Ybarra-Frausto – Give Me Life: Iconography and Identity in East LA Murals
  • Alan W. Barnett, Community Murals: The People’s Art
  • Yoko Clark & Chizu Hama – California Murals
  • Eva Sperling Cockcroft and Holly Barnet-Sánchez – Signs from the Heart: California Chicano Murals
  • Erin M. Curtis, Jessica Hough, and Guisela Latorre –  ¡Murales Rebeldes! L.A. Chicana/Chicano Murals Under Siege
  • Sandra de la Loza – The Pocho Research Society Field Guide to LA: Monuments and Murals of Erased and Invisible Histories
  • Robin J. Dunitz – Street Gallery: Guide to over 1,000 Los Angeles Murals
  • Virginia M. Fields & Victor Zamudio-Taylor – The Road to Aztlan: Art from a Mythical Homeland
  • Colin Gunckel – The Oscar Castillo Papers and Photograph Collection
  • Carlos Francisco Jackson – Chicana and Chicano Art: ProtestArte
  • Guisela Latorre – Walls of Empowerment: Chicana/o Indigenist Murals of California
  • Mural Conservancy of Los Angeles – Map and Guide to the Murals of Los Angeles
  • Chon A. Noriega, Terezita Romo, and Pilar Tompkins Rivas – L.A. Xicano
  • Chela Sandoval and Guisela Latorre – “Chicana/o Artivism: Judy Baca’s Digital Work with Youth of Color,” in Learning Race and Ethnicity: Youth and Digital Media
  • SPARC – Great Wall of Los Angeles Walking Tour Guide
  • Stanley Young – The Big Picture: Murals of Los Angeles Commentaries

Check out a Web Site

Above Image: Mural details (2016), designed by Amy Inouye, Future Studio, Los Angeles, with permission of the artists