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Storytelling is Part of L.A. Mural Tradition

David Alfaro Siqueiros I © Luis. C. Garza
David Alfaro Siqueiros I © Luis. C. Garza

One of the steadfast rituals of Mexican muralism is the passing down of stories, which is now part of the Los Angeles mural tradition. Luis C. Garza, a photojournalist and independent curator, has a unique angle to that.

Like others bringing awareness of the impact of David Alfaro Siqueiros, Garza's dedication is enthusiastic. His exhibitions and participation in lectures include "Siqueiros in Los Angeles: Censorship Defied," which ran at the Autry National Center from September 2010 to January 2011, in an academic and cultural partnership with The Autry, Lynn La Bate and Melissa Richardson Banks. It focused on Siqueiros' seven months in Los Angeles.

He has another major contribution to the understanding of Siqueiros. It comes from witnessing the artist first hand as a young photo journalist, and documenting a personality whose fire was not stilled by age. It can be seen through a series of photos taken in 1971. Garza often recants the story, which most recently was published in Fall 2010 in The Autry's publication Convergence:

Garza's role of storyteller is not limited to inside walls of museums and lecture halls. In April 2012, he joined the pilgrimage to Olvera Street to watch the canopy for the Siqueiros Interpretive Center be lifted into its place in preparation for the October 9 unveiling. A worker did not know what the fuss was about, Garza said to me a few days after the event. He passed on a story about passing on a story:

In speaking with Garza over the years, his delivery can be riveting performance. It is as if he just got back from 1971, or from a rooftop in 2012, and wants to share an experience. That is the true gift of a storyteller.

David Alfaro Siqueiros I © Luis. C. Garza
David Alfaro Siqueiros I © Luis. C. Garza

Photos © Luis. C. Garza

The stories continue with a series of programming leading up to the unveiling of América Tropical October 9. This Thursday, September 27, at 7 p.m., an outdoor multi-media show "Under the Stars - with Gregorio Luke" will be held at Father Serra Park, in front of Union Station. "For the first time in El Pueblo, Los Angeles, where Siqueiros painted his America Tropical mural 80 yeares ago. See this multimedia presentation by Gregorio Luke on David Alfaro Siqueiros, where his murals will be projected life-size on a giant screen, his career and artistic innovations will be discussed in detail."