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Revamping East L.A. – One Artist At A Time

from the LA Times


A rediscovering of East L.A.’s core

Latino artists help revamp a place where the community (and freeways) intersects.

By Agustin Gurza, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer April 26, 2008


People often refer to the heart of East Los Angeles, but it never seems to be in the same place. In newspapers, the term turns up all over the map. That’s because the area is more identified by its busy arteries — Whittier, Atlantic or Cesar Chavez — than by any essential center.

Lawrence K. Ho, Los Angeles Times

Finding the heart of this sprawling Latino neighborhood was on the mind of artist Linda Arreola when she won her first public art commission recently. Her task was to design a sculptural piece for the expansive new courthouse plaza at the East Los Angeles Civic Center, a refurbished and repurposed government complex that will be dedicated next month. Her design started with the idea of a public square that would serve as a focal point for residents.


“I really wanted to create a space for gathering of the community,” says Arreola. “I felt our community really needed that.”


The result is “Meso-American Dream,” a tranquil network of gardens and water fountains leading to an open space defined by stone blocks laid out in a square. The 1,300-pound blocks, made of red and gold travertine from New Mexico and Peru, are stacked two and three high, to create seating areas that evoke the shape of a pyramid.


Arreola is one of several East L.A. artists commissioned to beautify the park-like complex that once was a foreboding, military-like compound used primarily by law enforcement. Near the intersection of the 60 and 710 freeways, the Civic Center features a new bilingual library with a mosaic mural by Jose Antonio Aguirre, a pristine lake with two leaping fish sculptures by Jose Rude Calderon and two inviting gateways marked by Michael Amescua’s towering steel sculptures carved to recall papel picado, the traditional Mexican folk art of intricate designs on colored paper.


[ click to view full article in the LA Times ]

Posted on April 26, 2008 by Editor

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