Chapter 5 Painting the Walls

The mid-1970s saw a number of Chicano artists and intellectuals move into Highland Park, which became ground zero for an emerging Mexican-American art movement that would gain widespread local attention and international exposure.

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Plan De Aztlan
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The Chicano Moratorium
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Corazon Productions
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Centro De Arte Publico
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Mechicano Art Center
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Chisme Arte
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Shifra Goldman
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Yo Soy Chicana
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Reclaiming The City

Painting the Walls Mural
For many, the late 1960s through the early 1970s was the high-water mark of both community and social justice organizing in East Los Angeles. But the period immediately following would witness the emergence of novel responses to the most pressing questions of the era, particularly in the form of arts organizations and collectives aimed at bringing politically-minded public art to the larger community. The area became ground zero for an emerging Mexican-American art movement where public murals, popular graphics, street front exhibition spaces and avant-garde performance-based happenings would break into the popular imagination, gaining widespread local attention and, in the case of Chicano graphic and mural art, international exposure.

In stark contrast to the upscale galleries of West Los Angeles, where the emphasis was on individualistic and absrtact conceptual art, East Los Angeles neighborhoods became home to an art form that emphasized themes of community, cultural pride, and economic struggle inherited from great Mexican muralists of a previous generation such as Jose Clemente Orozco, Diego Rivera and David Alfaro Siqueiros. Connected with the Chicano/a nationalist movement, the artists in this new movement were working towards increasing the visibility of both the Mexican-American experience and of the problems of justice and equality faced by members of their community.

The mid-1970s saw a number of Chicano artists and intellectuals begin to move from the East Los Angeles area into Highland Park. It was a moment where the demographic transformation of a white neighborhood into a Chicano/Latino community would play a large part in helping shape the concepts and practices of the artists involved, white flight, declining property values, and Highland Park’s long history as home to artists, art communities and art movements contributing themes to the next generation of creatives.

This chapter has been produced through a collaboration with Avenue 50 Studio