6HWbNHN-show-poster2x3-c7tgE2Y.png

Artbound

Start watching
MJ250sC-show-poster2x3-Bflky7i.png

Tending Nature

Start watching
Southland Sessions

Southland Sessions

Start watching
Earth Focus

Earth Focus

Start watching
5LQmQJY-show-poster2x3-MRWBpAK.jpg

Reporter Roundup

Start watching
City Rising

City Rising

Start watching
Lost LA

Lost LA

Start watching
Member
Your donation supports our high-quality, inspiring and commercial-free programming.
Support Icon
Learn about the many ways to support KCET.
Support Icon
Contact our Leadership, Advancement, Membership and Special Events teams.

RIP: Shifra Goldman, 85, Longtime Champion of Chicano, Latin American Art

Support Provided By
Shifra-goldman-obituary

There are a few images that come to mind about Shifra Goldman. The story she told me about arriving in L.A. from New York after World War Two and being aghast that the only place to see art was at what is now the Natural History Museum across from USC.

The second is of her as a middle-aged Jewish mother of a young child taking young Chicanos, such as filmmaker Jesus Salvador Treviño, to Olvera Street and showing them the shadows of the 1932 white washed mural "America Tropical." It was the late 1960s and Chicanos were discovering their voice in a city where just 30 years earlier many had been forcefully deported in a period of xenophobia fed by economic crisis.

Under the paint applied by city fathers at around the same time lay a mural by one of Mexico's great artists. The painting portrayed a crucified Indian with an American eagle perched atop the cross. The image was too much for L.A. leaders who wanted to keep Mexicans in their place while freely using sombreros and cactus to feed the myth machine of sleepy Mexicans. She'd take many other Chicano artists to that second story rooftop. She formed a committee to preserve the mural. Next year the Getty is set to open an interactive viewing area next to the painting that tells the story about the painter, the censorship, and the politics of the time.

Goldman earned her PhD in art history from UCLA but her true education was in traveling extensively through Latin America, meeting the artists and furiously debating the creation and influences on their art. She made lifelong friends with her probing intellect and what can be called brutal honesty. The same approach led others who'd worked with her for years to break off all communication.

After I posted about Goldman's death Lisbeth Espinosa, saddened by the loss of a mentor, reminded me that Goldman, "advocated for the need to analyze art through its social framework." She quoted from one of Goldman's writings, "the insertion of cultural practices with in their social and historical context, ideally with the two acting in praxis." Art should not be taken lightly.

She'd helped me out on a few stories after I got off the bus in L.A. - all bright-eyed - eleven years ago. On May first of last year I organized a poetry reading at Avenue 50 Studio in Highland Park to hear from the writers who'd been influenced by her and from a few who only knew her from her writings. She'd been in a nursing home for a few years, freeing herself only briefly from the grips of Alzheimer's.

The gallery was packed. Some of the artists she'd championed, such as Yreina Cervantez and Barbara Carrasco where there. Ramon Garcia read a poem. As did Gloria Alvarez. In my poem I tried to capture a few of her life experiences in a Dada-inspired style.

George Kalmar, who immigrated to the U.S. as a teen from Eastern Europe never met Shifra Goldman but connected with her left-leaning politics fed by a progressive-Jewish background. He read this poem. Here's Xochitl Julissa Bermejo reading her poem.

Eric Garcia, Goldman's son, was also there to play a few songs dedicated to her. In regular visits to the nursing home, Garcia would play the guitar for his mother. On that night in Highland Park he did so with his teenage son. He's assembled the songs to his mother and calls the project "Songs For Shifra."

Garcia talked about his mother. Once she'd told him directly about the compromise she would be making. He would not see her as much as other kids would see their mothers, he remembers Goldman telling him. She'd be away for stretches at a time, studying, writing, traveling. He sobbed.

Kathy Gallegos, the founder of Avenue 50 Studio, helped write this obituary (.pdf).

Shifra Goldman believed strongly the work of Avenue 50 Studio and Tropico de Nopal galleries, so much that while she was still of sound mind stipulated that in place of flowers people so inclined should donate to the gallery. "Shifra Goldman, Presente!" was posted on more than a few Chicano Facebook pages.

Poet and Journalist Adolfo Guzman-Lopez writes his column Movie Miento every week on KCET's SoCal Focus blog. It is a poetic exploration of Los Angeles history, Latino culture and the overall sense of place, darting across LA's physical and psychic borders.

Support Provided By
Read More
Perez takes a break during his therapy. He could barely breathe when he was admitted to Los Angeles County’s Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in early June of last year.

Learning to Live Again: A Lazarus Tale from the COVID-19 Front Lines

Vicente Perez Castro, a 57-year-old cook from Long Beach, could barely breathe when he was admitted to Los Angeles County’s Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. At a certain point, the doctors told his family that he wasn’t going to make it. Months later, here he was — an outpatient at Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center in Downey, the only public hospital in the county whose main mission is patient rehab.
A keychain hangs from a lock on a doorknob.

Landlords Can Sign Up for Rent-Guaranteed Program to House Homeless Angelenos During the Pandemic and Beyond

The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority today urged property owners to sign up for a program that matches landlords with people experiencing homelessness, with rent guaranteed by the government.
The fourth person from the left, Bii Gallardo help hold a banner that reads "DEFEND THE SACRED" during the L.A. Women’s March in January 2020.

Bii Gallardo: Building Relationships with Land to Fight For Climate Justice

“I’ve fallen in love with working with my community and working for social justice and environmental rights,” says Bii Gallardo. Those are the reasons why the Apache and Yaqui activist works so hard to recognize Indigenous voices and fight for environmental justice.