Beginning in the mid 1970s, a small number of Chicano artists, writers, intellectuals, and organizations began moving from East Los Angeles into Highland Park. Among those who made the move were muralist Carlos Almaraz and his girlfriend Patricia Parra. Their rented house on Aldama Street in Highland Park became an active artist commune at which many Chicano artists would gather for varied cultural and political activities. Soon Almaraz and Parra, along with Guillermo Bejarano, a student at the People's College of Law, banded together with other artists and students to buy the house, in the process forming a collective that would become known as Corazon Productions. Among the artists who participated in this community were Frank Romero, Gilbert 'Magu' Lujan, Beto de la Rocha and Judithe Hernandez of Los Four, Wayne Healy and George Yepes of the East Los Streetscapers, ASCO's Gronk, Leo Limon, and John Valadez.
Much of the activism of the early days of the Chicano Movement in the late 1960s into the early 1970s was driven by leftist political ideologies and agendas. Socialism, Communism, the national liberation struggles in Africa, Asia and Latin America, and the Farm Worker Labor Movement led by César Chávez informed the visions of Chicano activists and artists. Chávez in particular became the first nationally recognized Chicano leader, his image becoming a recurring motif in early Chicano murals along with Che Guevara, Emiliano Zapata, and iconographic symbols referencing revolutionary, land-based, and agrarian struggles in Latin America, Mexico and the American Southwest/Aztlan. Many Chicano artists went a step further and became directly involved with the United Farm Workers, putting their artistry to work in the service of the farm worker's struggles. Both Carlos Almaraz and Barbara Carrasco, who later participated in Highland Park's Centro de Art Publico, worked closely with César Chávez producing murals and banners for the union.
Above, Patricia Parra describes the use of her home as a center of activity; Guillermo Bejerano on the politically motivated origins of Corazon Productions.Photo by Flickr user Lisa Newton, used under a Creative Commons license.