Today, Evonne Gallardo, Executive Director and the Board of Directors of Self Help Graphics & Art announced that the 40 year old institution of culture and art in East Los Angeles is moving to a new home.
Relocation from the icon building decorated in tile by artist Eduardo Oropeza, has been a buzz on the eastside for a while now—but negotiations as to where to move and being forward-facing, have been long, arduous and thorough.
As you may recall, the last time we saw “vile bag of tripe” Rudy Martinez, was when he served as the brown face-front of Piedmont Investment Company, the development firm that purchased the Self Help Graphics & Art Building in 2008. In a clandestine move with the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, Piedmont Investment Company purchased 3802 Cesar Chavez Blvd. at top dollar from the Archdiocese. This happened right before the real estate market started to crash. Rudy Martinez is no longer in association with Piedmont, and has been recently vying to bump Jose Huizar off his seat of power, and assume the position. The plan for Piedmont to make a corporate chain coffee house or eatery out of the building, has not panned out these past 3 years. Their early-on enthusiasm to mow and blow the building into some trendy rental spaces, (and more recently) to unload the building above market price—seems to have tapered off. I think not knowing for sure what will happen there next, makes it hard to think into the future and make plans, for the renters.
Many of the East Los Angeles artists and community members can’t imagine Self Help Graphics anywhere else but the eclectically styled building on Gage and Cesar E. Chavez. This vessel of shared memories of artists, musicians, staff members, community volunteers, art collectors, teachers, exhibits, and neighbors, will always remain “the place”. It will always be the location where a radical nun let her love for community and young artists bloom beyond its walls. Nothing can compare.
In the past two years, Self Help Graphics’ Annual Day of the Dead Festival has successfully taken place at the East Los Angeles Civic Center—proving that there is more to our community, to our art, to our selves than can be contained in a single space. It was challenging to change our festival grounds and keep the integrity of our home-styled celebration intact. Changes are always scary, in that we do not know where we are headed and what we will run into. We make a silent prayer and wish for the best— hope everyone got invited, hope we did not leave something important behind. Self Help Graphics started in the trunk of an artist’s car under the approving eyes of Sister Karen, then progressed to a garage and lastly landed in a seemingly insignificant building. This artistic momentum in time has served each of us well, cradling our wishes and beckoning others to join our dream, until now we stand strongly in our rightful place in art history and dare to look even further ahead.
For now, I’m dreaming of a fleet of Barrio Mobiles cruising young artists into their own futures, Sister Karen’s eyes approving. I wonder where the wheel of destiny will take us next?
“After Nearly 40 Years, the Nationally Recognized Latino Arts Center Looks Forward to a New Chapter as One of the Anchors in an Emerging Arts District on the Eastside”