“Quetzalcoatl, The Wall that Speaks” is created in part by artists John Zender Estrada, Rafael Corona, Oscar Deleon, Isabel Martinez, Dominic Ochoa, Jaime Ochoa, Anthony Ortega, and Rene Andy Ledesma.
Help Save Mexico-Tenochtitlan Mural
“Save Our Mural” is submitting a proposal for $8,000 for public art assistance through Los Angeles City Councilmember Gilbert Cedillo Office. The funding would be used for logistical and technical support to complete the mural restoration efforts that are presently underway. The mural titled: “Mexico-Tenochtitlan: A Sequence of Time and Culture” is located at 6037 N. Figueroa Street and Avenue 61, Los Angeles, California, 90042.
HISTORY AND ACCOMPLISHMENT:
Quetzalcoatl (Feathered Serpent) Mural Project (QMP) is a community based mural arts collective which began nineteen years ago in one of Los Angeles historic art districts. Anthony Ortega, Founding Director of the mural arts collective lost his childhood friend Daniel Robles, who was killed by unnecessary street violence on July 2, 1995. Daniel was a young talented artist and musician born and raised in Boyle Heights. He never knew it would be his last day on earth or would ever express an idea artistically or say another word to anyone ever again. Daniel was an intelligent man; an honor student at Roosevelt High School and graduated at the top of his high school class. He once told his close friend that he wanted to paint a series of murals and educate others about their cultural heritage and historical contributions made by Mexican-Americans in the areas of art, science and humanities. The plan was to organize a series of panel murals that would be developed and displayed in selected locations throughout the City of Los Angeles.
QMP received permission from Lee Lodes; former building owner of the Arroyo Furniture Store, to paint a 100-foot long mural that offers a look into the cultural history of Mexican-American heritage. In 1995, when Daniel Robles was brutally killed, the mural arts collective gained generous support within a year’s time from various non-profit organizations, philanthropists, individuals, and local politicians who funded the completion of this mural. We managed to complete the mural project within four months. Several students, artists, and community participants contributed their talents and energy to its final unveiling on December 20, 1996. The mural titled; “Mexico-Tenochtitlan: A Sequence of Time and Culture,” is a result of a collaborative multi-disciplinary project facilitated by artists Anthony Ortega and Andy Ledesma.
The original mural design was completed by four artists: Andy Ledesma, Eloy Torrez, Anthony Ortega and Daniel Marquez. The mural design was presented to Adolfo V. Nodal, a longtime cultural arts administrator and former General Manager of the City of Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Department. CAD board members were also present during the mural slide presentation. Our timeline highlights a sequence of time and culture; a rose and planet comes to life and takes center-stage during the mural presentation. It’s followed by a rendering of two-spirited warriors, a man and woman descending from Earth are surrounded by an array of stars and planets like Venus and Saturn. Relationships built between humans and the cosmos reminds us of our interconnectedness with nature and the universe; much of this ancestral knowledge and cultural understanding is rooted in Aztec cosmology. It’s the story of Flor y Canto which means “Flower and Song” in Spanish. This originated from ancient knowledge and teachings of Aztec thought and culture. Great visionaries, poets, philosophers, and noble men would recite philosophical and poetic prose about creationism and native spirituality.
The Tree of Life is a universal symbol found in many cultures arrives at the center during the mural slide presentation; on both sides of the rooted tree are a nude man and a nude woman symbolizing the birth and creation of humanity. At the end, a crying man in a checkered shirt symbolizes the late UFW leader Cesar Chavez, who surrounded by nine candles. Chavez is honored because of his contributions to the farm workers movement. The original design was denied by the Cultural Affairs Department (CAD) based on the nudity content used in the Tree of Life scene.
Artist Eloy Torrez re-designed the centerpiece; a realistic image of a contemporary Chicana woman wearing an Aztec headdress comes to life, a symbol of a “Day of The Dead” sugar skull appears in the colorful headdress. The Cultural Affairs Department (CAD) accepted our newly developed mural design. By this time, Quetzalcoatl Mural Project recruited several artists and developed a new mural team and design that consolidated old-elements with the newly approved design from the City of Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Department.
The original mural team who completed the mural, “Mexico-Tenochtitlan: A Sequence of Time and Culture” includes the following: Andy Ledesma, John “Zender” Estrada, Anthony Ortega, Isabel Martinez, Oscar De Leon, Jesse Silva, Jerry Ortega, Ralph Corona, Jaime and Dominic Ochoa. Community artists include: Asylum, Fernando Bustos, John Duran, and Mario Mencias.
We acknowledge the generous support from the following sponsors that made this project possible: Not Just Us Foundation, Arroyo Arts Collective, Highland Park Heritage Trust, La Tierra De La Culebra, Lead singer from Rage Against The Machine Zack De La Rocha, Attorney Jorge Gonzalez, The Montes Family, El Arco Iris Restaurant, Adolfo V. Nodal, Sam Baray, City of Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Department, LA Councilman Mike Hernandez Office, C/S Literary Group, Arroyo Furniture Store, Self-Help Graphics & Art Inc., Lee Lodes, Sister Karen Borccalero, Attorney Danilo Becerra, Art in The Park Advisory Council, Frank Sifuentes c/s, Dr. David Diaz, Arroyo Books, Anthony Gonzalez, Grace Sanchez, John & Ileana Cataldo, and “The Doors” legendary drummer John Densmore.
OUR MISSION STATEMENT:
Quetzalcoatl Mural Project (QMP) Primary mission is to provide inner-city youth an opportunity to showcase their artistic talents by creating an awareness campaign through public art projects in underserved Los Angeles neighborhoods. It’s well documented that arts education in Los Angeles public schools has been on the decline since the early 1980’s and in recent years, a crippled economy and state budget cuts have terminated these programs. There are few activities to engage children in their after school hours, and involvement in the arts has been shown to increase performance skills in all levels of their education, not just in art.
QMP goals are to educate and foster leadership skills to young artists in the participation of public art projects as a means to develop future “cultural arts ambassadors” that would bring new heights of social transformation and developmental process responsible for social change. We can aspire to learn from great contributions made in social science; and how art can be used to awaken people to the problems of society, specifically to the struggles faced by youth. We are founded on the principle that art and culture are teaching and healing tools that cultivate a level of fusion and balance with shared awareness. It is the main source of abundance and transformation in a person’s life.
We believe in giving young people a chance to nurture their creativity and contribute positively to their community. Mentoring youth during these difficult times provided us a deep look into the individual hardships and experiences they endured early in life. The youth made a tremendous impact on this mural by contributing their artistic talents and creativity to the project; especially in addressing their concerns and aspirations. A dream and inspiration of Daniel Robles is the sole purpose for the creation of Quetzalcoatl Mural Project. QMP dedicated its first mural in memory of Daniel Robles, including UFW leader Cesar Estrada Chavez and to those who fought for social justice during the 1960’s and 1970’s Chicano civil rights movement. We are committed to bring a sense of community and cultural identity to a lost and silenced history.
WHEN IS YOUR PROJECT GOING TO BE COMPLETED? AND WHERE IS THE PROJECT AT DURING THIS PHASE OF THE OPERATION?
Since the inception in 1995, this December 20th will mark the 19th anniversary when the muralists group unveiled a 100-foot long mural. Quetzalcoatl Mural Project plans to re-dedicate the mural. Our goal is to complete the mural restoration with some minor revisions made before July of 2014. Minor revisions include replacing the yellow corn, with New Mexico corn-known to Indigenous people in the Southwest as Four Direction corn; it’s very colorful. La Virgin de Guadalupe-Tonantzin will lose her Spanish Crown and replace her face with the face of a contemporary Chicana woman. She would look directly at the person, not at a tilted angle like how La Virgin de Guadalupe is portrayed in most murals in California. She would represent the same message and the same beauty.
Several rays would emanate from La Virgin de Guadalupe. Near Mexico City-Tenochtitlan by the deep blue skies next to the full moon; an image appears of the Aztec Moon Goddess, Coyolxauhqui painted in a monochromatic and ghost-like form descending from the moon. In the book area next to Cesar Chavez, titles of various books would be named with social themes that deal with race relations, history, and cultural understanding. The restoration process originally began in July of 2009, and a recent attempt in January of 2014. Several repairs are needed to fix the exterior wall, including paint materials to complete the restoration project. Emergency financial assistance is presently needed.
WHY THE NEED TO FUND THIS PUBLIC ART PROJECT?
The City of Los Angeles is a global leader in art, creativity, and entertainment. The arts community contributes billions a year to the local economy. Over the past five years, the city has lost resources, cultural spaces, independent bookstores and murals in extremely diverse and far-flung neighborhoods. We have to expand our imagination about the arts and how it can cultivate, renew and regenerate our economically and culturally strapped communities. We need to establish a new neighborhood arts initiative that would focus on safeguarding, sustaining and expanding all arts in every Los Angeles community by action of the Los Angeles City Council. With the right leadership, L.A. could be recreated as a place where not just community art, but gardens and food co-ops are given enough financial support to spring up organically and help sustain neighborhoods that were once considered underserved communities. The City of Los Angeles must be a pioneer in establishing real and widespread neighborhood arts initiatives.
The history of the mural provides valuable insight into the cultural, social, political, and historical contributions made by Mexican-Americans. Today, this mural has become one of Los Angeles true cultural landmarks and has gained national publicity on TV commercials, books, local and national news coverage. Tagging on public murals has been a major problem in the inner-city neighborhoods for years, Los Angeles is one of the most known mural capitals in the world but lacks the funding resources to restore and maintain public murals. Over the past ten years the mural has fallen victim to graffiti vandalism. The surface wall needs additional repairs done to it before the mural returns to its original vibrancy. From small to large cracks have fractured the structural wall and currently needs immediate attention. In the past ten years the mural has lost its original color and vibrancy; it’s important for the mural team to preserve and restore the art work to its original condition with vibrant colors and sharp details. The first order of business is to reach a large audience and gain grassroots support for this incredible undertaking.
In 2009, Los Angeles Times Columnist and award winning author of “The Soloists” Steve Lopez wrote a national story on the mural titled “Drumming up Support for Community Arts.” Artists Jaime Ochoa and Anthony Ortega the original muralists who worked on the mural located on Avenue 61 met with Mr. Lopez and John Densmore, the former drummer of the legendary rock band “The Doors” and the award-winning author of “Always Running” Luis Rodriguez. Densmore is a longtime Santa Monica resident; a philanthropist who gives generously to humanitarian causes and to local arts and culture over the years. He and Lead singer from Rage Against The Machine’s Zak de la Rocha partially funded the mural project since its inception in 1995. Densmore and Ortega “initiated this little cab” in Highland Park. They convened at the mural and engaged in a dialogue about the need to restore the mural on Avenue 61 and the importance to preserve, maintain, and rescue public art projects that continue to face graffiti vandalism in underserved Los Angeles neighborhoods. The national publicity that the mural received did not generate the required funds to help restore this public art piece.
Quetzalcoatl Mural Project (QMP) is urgently asking members of the Highland Park community including local businesses, politicians, Southern California non-profit organizations, and charitable based foundations to fund and publicly support the preservation and restoration of this iconic mural. We are seeking funding opportunities from city officials and community organizations: City of Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Department, Highland Park Heritage Trust, Highland Park Neighborhood Council, the Latino/a Roundtable, California Council for the Humanities, the Arroyo Arts Collective, Los Angeles City Councilmember Gilbert Cedillo-CD 1 and Los Angeles City Councilmember Jose Huizar-CD 14.
Our goal is to raise $10,000 to rent or purchase a scaffold; honorariums put aside for artists, including purchased paint and art supplies to complete the mural restoration before July of 2014. Our primary goal is to re-touch the whole mural with new acrylic paints from Nova Color. The paints are used for exterior murals and produce excellent colors that offer the painting its original vibrancy. With the use of improved conservation techniques, the repainted, renovated and restored mural will last another twenty years or more.
“Save Our Mural” is a project of Quetzalcoatl Mural Project. Ave. 50 Studio Inc. will serve as our fiscal agent to receive the funding support for this project. Ave. 50 Studio Inc, is a 501c (3) non-profit arts presentation organization grounded in Latina/o culture, visual arts, and the Northeast Los Angeles community that seeks to bridge cultures through artistic expressions, using content-driven art to educate and to stimulate intercultural understanding. Quetzalcoatl Mural Project (QMP) will sponsor several fundraising events to raise $10,000 to help restore this epic mural. We will have a special event fundraiser sponsored by Quetzalcoatl Mural Project; our goal is to raise public awareness on the mural restoration of Mexico-Tenochtitlan: A Sequence of Time and Culture. This will include an open panel discussion and a slide presentation, followed by Questions and Answers. A mural workshop will be conducted at Avenue 50 Studio; this will include youth and community participation in an arts education component.
We are submitting this proposal for $8,000 to Los Angeles City Councilmember Gilbert Cedillo Office for an emergency grant that would assist in logistical and technical support for the mural restoration efforts that is currently underway. The City Controller and the City Attorney’s offices in Los Angeles recently announced that they have found 10 million dollars in a slush fund put aside for public art projects. It would behoove the Councilman to intervene and acquire a segment of the public art funds recently found in support of our project.
Those who donate will receive a tax-deductible receipt for their in-kind gift or donation to Quetzalcoatl Mural Project. Each sponsor would be acknowledged on a list of individuals and non-profit organizations that made this project possible. Mostly, it’s an important part of Chicano history that needs to be saved and preserved for future generations of young and talented artists.
We trust you will recognize the worthy nature of this project and what your support would mean to the members of our community.
Quetzalcoatl Mural Project
Founding Director/Project Manager
The following is a fiscal breakdown of the monies requested for the proposed mural restoration project:
$2,300 Nova Color Paints, Scaffold, Repairs & Texture Paint for Mural Restoration
$1,100 Brushes, Paint Supplies and Tarps
$3,400 Honorariums for 2 or 3 Artists
$ 700 10% goes to our fiscal agent (Receiver – Ave. 50 Studio, Inc.)
$ 500_ Miscellaneous, Banners & Gas Expenses (Transportation costs)
$8,000 Total Budget – For Mural Restoration
WE NEED TO PRESERVE THE PAST IN ORDER TO UNDERSTAND THE PRESENT AND THE FUTURE. PLEASE HELP US MAKE A DIFFERENCE TODAY!
Mural Description of Mexico Tenochtitlan: A Sequence of Time and Culture
The mural, “Mexico-Tenochtitlan: A Sequence of Time and Culture,” radiantly highlights people, places, and Mother Earth. On the left side, the mural begins with the creation of life and humanity showing a man and woman with open arms and a woman carefully holding a fetus in the womb. The fetus has emerged with the Hunab Ku, the Mayan symbol for the Creator or Giver of Life. This symbol pre-dates the Chinese Ying and Yang by 1,000 years. A circular symbol is surrounded by two spirited warriors a man and woman are moving in rotation of the symbol. The symbol includes Aztec, Mayan, Native American, African and others in unity with each other, in their origins, and cultural importance.
From creationism to spirituality a group of Mexican indigenous people are celebrating “el Dia de los Muertos,” and are walking in a procession and praying to La Virgin de Guadalupe. Her aurora and rays are surrounded by the moon, a perfect halo, and a mist of roses gracefully adorns her. To the Aztec people, she represents Mother Earth, the Aztec Goddess Tonantzin. Dia de los Muerto is celebrated as a day to remember your love one’s or friend’s who have passed on to the spirit world. It’s a traditional Aztec ceremony practiced for centuries but in the United States the celebration is remembered as “Day of The Dead.” Quetzalcoatl (the Feathered-Serpent) winds throughout the mural from past, present and future.
A rendering of an Eagle perched on a cactus plant symbolized the founding of the old city of Tenochtitlan in what today is Mexico City. An Aztec emperor named Moctezuma and his family is united; the concept of la familia (the family) is deeply embedded in the Mexican culture. The Aztec civilization is next to the tropical scenery where the great Olmec civilization built these huge colossal heads. Mexico’s majestic volcanoes, Popocatepetl and Iztaccihuatl, tower over a waterfall where Huitzilopochtli appears. Huitzilopochtli, the Aztec god of the Sun and War returns as a hummingbird.
Then an enormous Aztec calendar in bright shades of reds, oranges, and yellows takes center stage. Some of the heroic persons are Cuauhtémoc, the last Aztec emperor; General Emiliano Zapata and La Adelita, two revolutionaries who fought during the Mexican Revolution in the early 1900s against the exploitation of the poor. They are followed by Subcomandante Marcos, the ski-masked revolutionary who leads the struggle for indigenous people’s rights in the Mexican state of Chiapas, typing the words “YA BASTA” (enough now) in his laptop computer.
Right beneath that trio are two young children a boy and a girl; both of them are looking out into the sunset as the warm air sets in and enjoys what nature has to offer. Cesar Chavez, the late California union leader is portrayed in this mural as a civil rights icon. He is holding purple grapes embedded with skulls, the people poisoned by the pesticides. At the end of the mural, there is a man “half human, half machine” that represents a modern-day man who is consumed by the technological giant called progress. With one hand, the man is grabbing the roots of a tree symbolizing humanity’s desire to cultivate the land; the other hand he is breaking the chains of technology.
The photographs were taken by Charles J. Fisher, a local Highland Park resident. Mr. Fisher is a well known preservationist, author and historian for the Highland Park Heritage Trust. The Trust has gained recognition in both the City of Los Angeles and the State of California as one of the most consistently effective and productive preservation organizations in Southern California.
A partial list of funding resources for the mural restoration includes: Not Just Us Foundation, John Densmore, former drummer of the legendary rock band “The Doors,” John Cataldo, Manuel Lopez, The Robles Family, Attorney Danilo Bercerra and citizens of the Northeast community.
Funds are still needed.
Our beautiful Southwest Museum Mural has been completely whitewashed.
Please donate to restore the mural.
Created in 2004 by local artist Daniel Cervantes. There are many reasons to appreciate this mural on Marmion Way, under the Southwest Museum: the colors that seem to glow in the sun, the attractive graphic style and most importantly, the subject, Native people of the Americas.
Friends of the Southwest Museum
Highland Park Heritage Trust
Avenue 50 Studio
Councilman Gilbert Cedillo’s office
Highland Park Neighborhood Council
Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Council
Milford Archeological Research Institute (MARI)
Autry National Center
And You, the Community of Northeast LA
The Avenue 50 Studio is the fiscal sponsor for the Save Our Southwest Museum mural drive. Please make out your checks to: “Avenue 50 Studio” and fill in the donation line to designate the donation to the “Save Our Southwest Museum Mural”. Avenue 50 Studio Federal Tax ID No.: 54-2088575.
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