I had the honor of writing both the forward and afterward to ¡Murales Rebeldes!: L.A. Chicana/Chicano Murals Under Siege, because Chicano murals and their preservation are kinda of an obsession of mine. It's a spectacular coffee table book published by Angel City Press that's the companion to an upcoming exhibit at LA Plaza in downtown Los Angeles (co-curated with the California Historical Society) that documents the history of Chicano murals getting whitewashed in Southern California for various reasons, all boiling down to the fact that Chicano artists dare paint the truth on walls. This Sunday, I'll moderate a panel on the book at 4 p.m. at the venerable Vroman's in Pasadena featuring ¡Murales Rebeldes contributors Erin M Curtis and Jessica Hough, and muralists Barbara Carrasco & David Botello—GO GO GO!!!
I'll let others judge the worth of the book, since I'm obviously biased. But come on: with 170 full-color images, about a topic that's rarely discussed, it's a must-buy for anyone who cares about art, Chicano, or Southern California history. And even though the title makes readers think it's an El Lay story only, it's as much of an OC book: Besides my involvement, there's an Emigdio Vazquez cameo, and two of the six case studies offered in Murales Rebeldes deal with work in Orange County.
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The awesome cover for ¡Murales Rebeldes! comes from a detail of Sergio O'Cadiz's monumental 600-foot mural that stood for decades in Fountain Valley's Colonia Juarez barrio before city officials declared it a seismic hazard and had it torn down in the early 2000s. I documented this sad story in a 2012 cover story, but Hough retells it far better than I ever could, with archival letters, newspaper clippings, and photos of the mural during its creation and after.
That story is known. But completely forgotten in the annals of OC art history is a mural that was part of the Huntington Beach Art Center's inaugural exhibit that was painted over in 1995, then summarily disappeared by a new owner about a decade later. Hell, I didn't even know this case—and it's my pinche job to know, you know? I'll save that sordid tale for a different day...in the meanwhile, order ¡Murales Rebeldes¡ from Angel City Press, ask your local bookstore to carry it. Know your Chicano art history!
¡Murales Rebeldes!: L.A. Chicana/Chicano Murals Under Siege, Hardcover, 192 pages. $40