By MARGARET NAVETTE | City News Service
LOS ANGELES – Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday approved the addition of the Centro de Arte Publico and the Mechicano Art Center in Highland Park to the city’s list of historic and cultural landmarks as important places for the Chicano art movement.
Both buildings were named to the list by the Highland Park Heritage Trust, which said the buildings “served as essential centers for Latin American creativity and community in Los Angeles in the 1960s and 1970s and are currently threatened with erasure by rapidly expanding community development. “
Tuesday’s vote came after recommendations from the Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission and City Council Land Use Planning and Management Committee.
“The Mechicano Arts Center and the Centro de Arte Publico are two of the many important cultural institutions in our city reflecting the cultural history of Latinos and Latinas,” said city councilor Gil Cedillo, who represents the neighborhood, in a statement after the vote.
“I thank the council for designating these sites as historical and cultural. I salute the many artists involved in these institutions including Judithe Hernandez, George Yepes, Barbara Carrasco, Frank Romero, John Valadez, Leo Limon, Dolores Guerrero Cruz, Victor Vaya, Robert Delgado, Gilbert ‘Magu’ Lujan, Wayne Healy and Nicandro ‘Gronk ‘Glugio. They are cultural heroes.
The city’s list of historical and cultural monuments designates more than 1,200 sites as landmarks.
“Nationally, less than 10% of historic monuments are associated with communities of color,” Highland Park Heritage Trust chairman Jamie Tijerina said in a statement to the City News Service. “Important places that are historically linked to the struggle for Latino civil rights in the United States, the Chicano movement, are in danger of being lost. A recent example of such a loss in Los Angeles was the 2019 demolition of the R Building and Roosevelt High School auditorium in Boyle Heights.
“The appointments of the Mechicano Art Center and the Centro de Arte Publico are not only essential for the preservation of Chicano history in Northeast Los Angeles and the Eastside, but they are also a step towards realizing the fairness in this space, ”Tijerina added.
The Centro de Arte Publico, located on North Figueroa Street between avenues 56 and 57, was built in 1923, initially as a retail store. The Centro de Arte Publico rented the second floor from 1977 to 1978, and the proponents said it was one of three organizations that made up the Chicano Arts Collective in Highland Park.
“Born out of the rise of the Chicano movement and a desire for self-expression in Los Angeles in the late 1960s, the Chicano Arts Collective played a key role in empowering local Chicano / -a artists from Highland Park. Highland Park said Alexandra Madsen of Heritage Trust.
The center “has addressed itself directly and sought to realize the revolutionary political and social values for which the wider Chicano movement has advocated,” Madsen said.
The Mechicano Art Center, located at the north corner of North Figueroa Street and North Avenue 54, was housed in a building built in 1922, also as a retail store. The Mechicano Art Center leased the space from 1975 to 1978.
According to Madsen, they were one of the first Chicano arts groups in Los Angeles. Before moving to the Figueroa estate, the center used an abandoned laundry.
“In addition to supporting professional artists, the center also sought to provide creative outlets for amateur artists and members of the community; he has raised money for community causes and organized free community classes in drawing, painting, graphic art and photography for children and adults, ”said Madsen.
The center closed permanently after three years in Highland Park.
The Chicano movement, also known as El Movimiento or El Movimiento Chicano, was an extension of the Mexican-American civil rights movement that gained critical momentum in the 1930s and developed after World War II. . During the 1960s, Mexican-American high school and college students began to resist assimilation into Anglo-American culture and assert a unique cultural identity and ethnic pride, ”Madsen said.
“The 1960s and 1970s were pivotal times for Latinos in Los Angeles… Latino artists of all types came together to form organizations such as the Chicano Arts Collective to foster creativity and provide a venue for exhibition artists who are generally not welcome in traditional galleries and museums. their art.