Baseball fans in Los Angeles may have celebrated the 50th anniversary of Dodger Stadium on Tuesday for the home opener, but a new photography exhibit opening tonight in Fullerton will display the images of the Mexican-American community of Chavez Ravine before it.
Photographer Don Normark was present in 1949 with camera in hand to document the neighborhood on the eve of uprooting evictions by the city of Los Angeles. The controversial clearing out of the community allowing for the eventual construction of the baseball park still conjures up bitter memories for those who lived through the experience.
The images captured by the photographer that year were recently featured as part of the PBS Independent Lens documentary Chavez Ravine: A Los Angeles Story. Tonight they are set to be on exhibit as part of the Don Normark: A Retrospective opening reception at the Muckenthaler Cultural Center. The man himself will be present at the event to speak about three of his most important works, including selections from his time with Sunset magazine, that look back over the decades of his career.
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Normark's most recent photographs in the retrospective, which runs through June 10, center on the struggle to save the South Central Farm before it was bulldozed over in 2006. Those who tended the gardens were mostly immigrants from Mexico and Central America before encampments, arrests and evictions carried out on behalf of property owner Ralph Horowitz uprooted the vibrant green oasis in the middle of a cold, industrial concrete section of Los Angeles.
The more things change...
Don Normark: A Retrospective opens tonight at the Muckenthaler Cultural Center, 1201 West Malvern Avenue, Fullerton, 7 p.m. Suggested donation.