From White Memorial to Self Help Graphics ~ Murals in Boyle Heights

On January 11 I attended the “Resistance and Respect II” forum on murals in Los Angeles. Having missed out on last years, I made it a point to attend this one and I was not disappointed. From the press release, Panelists include: L.A. mural pioneer and founder of the Social & Public Art Resource Center, muralist/professor Judy Baca; pioneer muralist/painter/professor, Yreina D. Cervántez; muralist/painter Noni Olabisi; co-founder of pioneer mural collective, East Los Streetscapers, painter Wayne Alaníz Healy; godfather of LA Graffiti art Chaz Bojórquez; Graff artist/muralist Man One (Director, Crewest Gallery). The panel will be co-moderated by Elizabeth Morin, Director, Youth Arts & Education Program for the Dept. of Cultural Affairs, L.A. and former teen Graff writer/muralist and renowned poet/author, Luis J. Rodríguez.

These are all great people who I’ve met or heard of before going to the forum, so to be able to hear all of them speak and chime in with the current state of murals in L.A. was a rare treat and opportunity. It was there where I learned about the Siqueiros mural on Olvera St. and where the future of murals in L.A. might go. The discussion got me thinking about some of the murals in Boyle Heights and their conditions. Murals are integral parts of any community and I for one can’t picture a world without them. It’s also part of my Chicano heritage that I’m learn more and more about everyday. I’m currently reading “Diary Of a Brown Buffalo.”  I also realized that during the forum that graffiti is having growing pains because of the wording in city laws that make it a target for politicians who wanna make a name for themselves by going after them.  

Then I got an email from SPARC about the petition to save L.A.s murals. I signed the petition and I’m psyched about the effort to restore, protect and keep our murals. I encourage everyone else who  feels the same and loves murals like I do to sign it and spread the word. All of the pictures seen here are in geographical order. I started at White Memorial and continued all the way down Cesar Chavez Ave. until I ended up at Self Help to their mural in homage to the Siquieros mural. Murals are part of our cultural identity and as a community we need to find solutions to stop them from being whitewashed and tagged on by idiots who have no idea what they’re doing.


8 thoughts on “From White Memorial to Self Help Graphics ~ Murals in Boyle Heights

  1. Thanks El random, several of my murals are in the pics, including the legal graff collabo on evergreen.

    The 2nd to the last mural is one of our first murals (it is the one on the left, at the time the right more graffiti mural done by choser and nuke was an old historic mural full of tagging that I wouldnt touch for various reasons) called Tonatiuh, which is the quinto sol. We painted the mural with kids from the ES Boys and Girls club, local cholos and their families and my familia. We got kids from Maravilla and the Lott/etc to paint with us, and have not gotten a tag since. We also used a curriculum on indigenous philosophy, and used the mural content as an example of dualism. The god represents destruction and we painted corn around him and on the floor both for graffiti abatement and to represent life. If I recall correctly, some kids from self help came over too, SHG was really a cool place and it was a shame to see it come into trouble.

    I really would have liked to go to that mural forum, let us know when it will occur again.

  2. Random, those are really awesome photos! Thanks for doing the (literal) leg work.
    I can’t wait to see what the eighth one from the bottom will look like when completed.

  3. I can’t believe they’ve destroyed/haven’t repaired the mural on Soto on the botanica del sol. I’ve spent many a nights at that bus stop so I’d pass the time by looking at the details of the human on the operating table. Appropriately enough, the only thing you can still see in your pic is a small part of the fetus, waiting to be (re)born.

  4. BTW, Revolt of the Cockroach People is a great book by the brown buffalo. What’s his name again? Anyways, Ive been looking for the book you are reading for a while, where’f you find it at? Down for a book swap when your finished?

  5. Art,
    It’s Oscar Zeta Acosta. Both books (Autobiography of a Brown Buffalo/Revolt of the Cockroach People) were reprinted sometime in the past five years. I got my copies at a Borders. 🙂


    Hey youse guys, I put this u tube video up a couple of posts ago so if I’m being a pain in the ass dispensa, but it’s a video that was taken of the Brown Buffalo years ago by undercover jura. Oscar Zeta Acosta back in the day, was a legendary and almost mythic figure in the Chicano community. He could never be pinned down or nailed down to any one place. He was a passionate artist and spokesman for the Raza and for all people que battallando for freedom and human rights.
    It’s odd that so many years have gone by and a giant like the Brown Buffalo has almost been forgotten by many.
    Acosta was a running partner of another legenday figure Hunter S Thompson and was played by

  7. I’m down for a book swap Art. I keep going back and forth on the book but I can’t put it down sometimes. Plus I try to buy local, I got my copy at teocintli on 4th right across the street from Roosevelt.

  8. I’ve lived in Boyle Heights since I was a kid and I see these murals about everyday. The funny thing about this whole tagging thing is that its recent. Before no one would even tag on these murals but over time I started noticing a slow progression of tags. It would start on the floor in front of them or on the edges and then it slowly progressed into just huge blatant tags. Like the pic of the mural of the one on Chavez and Soto. Before it was painted over that thing was a mess.
    What makes it even sadder is the lame restorations they do on them. Like the one on the Payless shoe store on the same intersection. Forget the name of the mural… but that one got some shitty restoration. Yea it got a huge nasty tag on it and it got removed, but the restoration job they did on it was a hack job. It just doesn’t look the same even if it gets fixed.
    But thinking back on to the comment I had earlier of it being recent. I think the reason is that kids don’t identify with them anymore. I think the kids who tag on them are probably 2nd or 3rd generation and their ignorant of their cultural significance to them.
    But back to the whole restoration bit. Check out this site. This Nathan guy is the shit when it comes to restoration. He’s relocated entire murals by lifting the paint off the walls and resetting it down onto a whole different surface. They call him the Mad Chemist.

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