Muralist Ernesto de la Loza recently completed the restoration of "Organic Stimulus," his 32 foot by 24 foot flowing landscape, which now has the original bright hues and shades that had gone pastel since first completed in 1975. It's an early work from his Chicano mural portfolio, and will be unveiled this weekend with fanfare and civic ceremony at Estrada Courts in Boyle Heights. The repair was led by the Mural Conservancy of Los Angeles (MCLA) and funded by the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA).
Ernesto's recurring theme to humanize community through organic forms and colors is in this early piece, located in an Estrada Courts corridor that has been nicknamed Nature Walk - so named for murals that thematically brings mountains, water, trees to the boxy set of apartment buildings built in the 1940s.
"The people would thrive when they walked past what they never saw in a harsh environment," said Isabel Rojas-Williams, executive director of MCLA, who has leading tours through the Eastside mural enclave.
Those shapes and colors of nature as reinterpreted by local artists became a refuge from the inner barrio. "You almost feel the wind," said Willie Herron, muralist and founding member of ASCO, when describing to MCLA the connection he had to the landscaped themed art on this section of walls, where he walked as a young artist.
Estrada Courts, along with Ramona Gardens, are the low-income housing projects built in the 1940s, which served as mural art laboratories that pushed forward the Chicano Art Movement in the early 1970s.
Of the Estrada Courts' roughly 54 surviving major works,13 are being eyed by MCLA to be restored once funding and donations are secured. The next piece scheduled to go from archived fading acrylic on stucco to living mural is "Outer Space," completed in 1977 by Richard Haro, said Rojas-Williams.
As for the prolific Ernesto de la Loza, his most visible work may be "Resurrection of the Green Planet," a 1991 mural on the corner of César E. Chávez Blvd and Breed St. in Boyle Heights, which gained regional attention when he made personal attempts to restore it to dodge the city ordering it to be whitewashed.
The murals in Estrada Courts are important to the residents of the housing project and mural historians; the tours led by MCLA and the restoration are a visual aid that support mural ordinance reform in the city.
The resurrection of "Organic Stimulus" is Sunday March 11, 2012 at 10 a.m. at 3240 Olympic Blvd in Boyle Heights.
Top: Ernesto de la Loza on third day of restoration for "Organic Stimulus." Photo by Ian Robertson-Salt courtesy of the MCLA.