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'América Tropical' Ready To Be Unveiled to The Public

Eighty years after being completed, David Alfaro Siqueiros' América Tropical will again be seen by the public beginning October 9, announced the Getty Conservation Institute (GCI) today.

The conservation of the only surviving public mural by Siqueiros in the United States -- a long ongoing public-private partnership between the City of Los Angeles and the GCI -- will be celebrated in a ceremony, with programming leading up to the re-dedication.

"América Tropical has been an inspiration to numerous artists, educators, and social activists about the importance of freedom of expression since its unveiling in 1932," said Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa in a press release.

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According to Tim Whalen, director of the Getty Conservation Institute, providing public access to América Tropical has been central to this project. "[Since] the Getty Conservation Institute's initial involvement in 1988, it has been a persistent advocate for the conservation of the mural, and the construction of the shelter, and a public viewing platform," he said. "We are so pleased to bring 'América Tropical' back to the people of Los Angeles."

América Tropical was completed on October 9, 1932 on the second story exterior wall of Italian Hall on Olvera Street. "I painted a man . . . crucified on a double cross, which had, proudly perched on the top, the eagle of North American coins," said Siqueiros, describing the mural later in his life.

It raised immediate controversy and was whitewashed, then forgotten until the 1960s. Chicano artists, activists and the urban mural movement brought awareness to Los Tres Grandes; Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco and especially Siqueiros, who spent time in Los Angeles while painting "América Tropical."

Programming related to the opening of Siqueiros' América Tropical will include:

  • Outdoor multi-media show "Under the Stars - with Gregorio Luke" on Thursday, September 27, 7 p.m. at Father Serra Park.
  • "Letters to Siqueiros" and a screening of Jesus Treviño's film, "América Tropical" (first broadcast on KCET), on Thursday, October 4, 7 p.m. at the Pico House.
  • "Siqueiros in Los Angeles," a lecture by Dr. Irene Herner Reiss on Friday, October 5, 2012, at 7 p.m.

  • The opening of América Tropical Interpretive Center and the mural to the public on Tuesday, October 9, at noon at the Sepulveda House, El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument, 125 Paseo de la Plaza.

  • A two-day symposium "The Siqueiros Legacy: Challenges of Conserving the Artist's Monumental Murals" on Tuesday, October 16, and Wednesday, October 17, at The Getty and at El Pueblo.

  • A full celebration, "¡América Tropical! A Festival Celebrating Siqueiros," on Saturday, November 3, from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. at La Plaza de Cultura y Artes and El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument.

    More programming information can be found at Amigo De Siquerios and at The Getty.


    Top: Under a protective canopy attached to the second story exterior wall of Italian Hall, conservation experts work on Siquerios' América Tropical." Below: The view from Olvera Street. Photos courtesy of the Getty Conservation Institute.

    Courtesy of the Getty Conservation Institute

  • About the Author

    Ed Fuentes is an arts journalist, photographer, graphic designer, and digital muralist who covers a variety of topics and geographies in Southern California for KCET.
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