Things That Matter

These Are Some Of The Most Instagrammable Latino Murals From California To Florida

For decades, muralism has been an opportunity for Latino artists of all backgrounds to represent their culture, roots, protest against society, or honor their heroes. These murals exist in Latino neighborhoods that have withstood the test of time and gentrification and continues to honor the Latino community. Here are just a handful of some of the most beautiful and Instagram-worthy Latino murals in the U.S.

1. San Francisco – The Mission District Murals

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The Mission District in San Francisco is covered with murals that tell the collective stories of Latinos. It not only talks about Mexican immigrants, but also those who fled war and violence in the ’80s and ’90s from Central America.

One mural depicts the need to end the violence titled “Ceasefire,” painted by muralist Juana Alicia. She was also a contributing artist to the murals on the Women’s Building in San Francisco. The mural shows a calm yet defiant young boy standing opposite the barrel of a gun while hands rise up to protect him.  

2. Los Angeles – Ritchie Valens Mural

CREDIT: PorUnAmor.org

February 3, 1969 was known as ‘The Day the Music Died’ following the deaths of three young recording artists. Valens, J.P. Richardson and Buddy Holly died after their plane crashed in a field in Iowa after a performance in North Dakota. To commemorate Valens, the young 17-year-old Mexican-American rock and roll artist, various murals have been commissioned in his hometown of Pacoima, California.

This colorful mural by activist and muralist Manny Velazquez was painted on the walls of Pacoima Middle School in 1985 and restored to its former glory in 2009 with vibrant hues.

3. San Diego – Chicano Park

Cuauhtemoc was the last Aztec ruler of Tenochtitlan. Can you imagine being the ruler of your empire. Then you have to witness your people being beaten, raped, and killed. His last words he spoke about how the sun has left them in complete darkness. He told his people to hide in their homes and hide their songs, knowledge, culture, and even sports. He believed the sun was going to come out again. The people of Tenochtitlan were colonized and the sun never came back up for them. They tried to destroy everything they had, but here we are dancing danza Azteca in 2018. Our songs and dances are what our ancestors hid. I dance because what my ancestors hid is a precious gift to us. I dance because I believe that the sun will come out again. My first time at Chicano park and it was powerful. ✊🏽🙏🏽✊🏽✊🏽🙏🏽🌞🌑🌔🌞✨🦅🥀🌸 #cuahutemoc #indigenous #danzaazteca #tenochtitlan #chicanopark

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Tucked away in San Diego’s Barrio Logan neighborhood is Chicano Park, the epicenter of Latino art and life in San Diego. The park is located under the San Diego-Coronado bridge, and the pillars showcase striking murals of artists, folklore heroes, revolutionaries from Mexico and more.

4. Phoenix – Arizona Latino Arts & Cultural Center

The multitude of murals at the Arizona Latinos Arts & Cultural Center in the state’s capital city are teeming with life and personality. Perhaps one of the most intriguing murals is that of ‘American Sabor,’ which pays homage to Latino artists such as Carlos Santana and Vicente Fernandez.

5. Chicago – Pilsen

Once settled by Czech immigrants arriving to Chicago, the Pilsen area of the Windy City had a constant population of Mexican immigrants from the 1970s to the 1990s. Passerbys can admire murals celebrating Mexican film icon María Félix, Mexican singer Ramón Ayala. There are also scenes of everyday life in a Mexican family, such as this quaint mural of a family making meals together.

6. Miami – Little Havana

Little Havana’s Calle Ocho is known for providing some refreshing mojitos and salsa lessons taught at the neighborhood’s Ball and Chain bar. However, tourists can also appreciate the colorful murals jumping out with sabor and azucar a la Celia Cruz along the boulevard. The main mural announcing the neighborhood gives a nod to the Cuban abuelito pastime of playing dominoes, Cuban artists, flag and always-present frijoles negros.

And Cuban celebrities get their own mural because, porque no?

Cubans have long held down south Florida as their major hub and the art around the city proves it.

7. New York City – East Harlem

Don’t let the bright colors of Yasmin Hernandez’s “Soldaderas” mural in East Harlem blind you from seeing the true message behind the mural. Hernandez painted the mural to protest the animosity Puerto Ricans and Mexicans had against each other in the neighborhood. Instead, the artist invites her audience to come together as sisters (and family) through a connection between Mexican painter Frida Kahlo and Puerto Rican poet Julia de Burgos. 


READ: This Miami Artist Is Using His Skills For Both Muralism And Art Education In Latin America

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This LA Play Explores The Mystery Surrounding Frida Kahlo’s Death, Her Love Affairs, And Her Passion For Art

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This LA Play Explores The Mystery Surrounding Frida Kahlo’s Death, Her Love Affairs, And Her Passion For Art

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Frida Kahlo’s Death Has Long Been The Subject Of Debate —This Play Unpacks The Painter’s Last Week Of Life 

This LA Play Explores The Mystery Surrounding Frida Kahlo’s Death, Her Love Affairs, And Her Passion For Art

This Play Explores The Last Week Of Frida Kahlo’s Life —And The Mystery Will Have You On The Edge Of Your Seat

There have been many movies, television dramas and stage productions based on the life and works of Mexico’s most famous artist Frida Kahlo, but none of these stories had ever explored the woman’s last week of life. As it turns out, her death has been an open-ended and unanswered question mark. Many believe there was a cover up, and this play dives deep into the mystery. 

The award-winning playwright and actress, Odalys Nanin explores the mental, emotional and physical condition during the last week of Frida Kahlo’s life in her latest play.

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$25 Early bird tix at machatheatre.org

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‘Frida: Stroke of Passion’ peels away the secret cover up of the painter’s death and reveals what or who killed Frida Kahlo.

Until recently, Nanin, managed and produced at the MACHA Theatre in West Hollywood, CA, a company she founded years ago.

After writing and producing nearly a dozen plays, Nanin presented her last production at the MACHA last fall. The play was another original she wrote, this time about Mexico’s most controversial artist, and one of the world’s most famous painters, Frida Kahlo. 

Frida: Stroke of Passion, enjoyed a three-month long run last fall and received rave reviews and awards.

Frida Kahlo died July 13, 1954. Her death certificate alleges cause of death: “pulmunary embolism” but no autopsy was allowed and she was immediately cremated. The play explores her mental, emotional and physical condition during the last week of her life – exposing her love affair with famous Mexican singer Chavela Vargas, Maria Felix, Josephine Baker, Tina Moddoti, Leon Trotsky, a Cuban spy and her complex passionate love for Diego. 

Back by popular demand and with a grant from LA County Arts, DAC and CAC, “Frida: Strokes of Passion” premieres February 7 in Boyle Heights for six shows.

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In Nanin’s tale, Kahlo’s bout with bronchopneumonia and the loss of her right leg left her frail and numb, “Her right leg had been amputated from the knee down so she is either in her wheel chair or bed ridden.  She was under a lot of pain killers and alcohol in order to numb her pain. So she was between a daze of sleep and awakening.”

“Espero que la salida sea gozosa, y espero nunca mas volver.”

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In a diary entry written just days before her death, she wrote, “I hope the exit is joyful — and I hope never to return.” For these reasons, Nanin believes the artist took her own life.

In the play, Nanin delves deeper into Frida’s sexuality.

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“What initiated the spark of passion in me to write about Frida Kahlo was because as a lesbian Latinx I relate to her courage and fearless determination to stand up to injustice and to be the voice of the voiceless through her art and political activities.” 

The main players in the story are Kahlo’s tormented husband, Diego Rivera, the love of her life, but there were other lovers.

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Her passion didn’t just start or end with Rivera, there were several women in-between and one other man who also captured her heart, and during her final days, they all came visiting– taunting and haunting her with the memories they each represented. Women like Mexican singer Chavela Vargas, Mexican movie star Maria Felix, cabaret singer and dancer Josephine Baker, famous model and photographer Tina Modotti, and Cuban revolutionist/spy Teresa Provenza. There was also the ghost of Leon Trotsky, a man she admired and loved and whose murder haunted Kahlo for the rest of her days.

The production has also been released in the form of a book. 

Nanin has written a book capturing her play in print– the story goes far beyond Kahlo’s Mexican and European Surrealism, and her indigenous Mexican culture influence. Frida Kahlo hated societal rules and traditions at every level, and she felt shackled as a woman. In the book, Nanin explores her frustrations, her love affairs, her queerness and overall, her passion for art. 

“Frida – A Stroke of Passion” runs February 7–9 and 14–16 at 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and at 2 p.m. on Sundays at the Casa 0101 Theatre in Los Angeles. For tickets and more information, click here.

End Of An Era As Lowrider Magazine Will Cease Printing After 42 Years

Culture

End Of An Era As Lowrider Magazine Will Cease Printing After 42 Years

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After 42 years, Lowrider magazine is nearing its last ride as the publication will cease printing at the end of this year. For many Chicanos living in Southern California in the 1980s, the magazine became a cultural icon when it came to content on everything from cool cars to flashy tires. Beyond just the world of cars, Lowrider gave insight on political and cultural issues that were focused on Chicano identity. In some ways, the magazine played a role in bringing lowrider and Chicano culture to the mainstream in a way that no publication had before.

That’s why when news broke on Dec. 6 that TEN Publishing, the publisher behind multiple car enthusiast magazines, would be shutting down print operations for 19 of its 22 titles next year, including Lowrider, it marked an end of an era. As of now, it’s not yet clear if the iconic magazine will continue online or even rescued by another publication. One thing is for certain though, some readers are being left behind in the dark. 

There is no denying the influence and impact that Lowrider had on not only on car culture but Chicanos as a whole. 

Lowrider got its start in 1977 after it was founded by San Jose State students David Nuñez, Larry Gonzalez, and Sonny Madrid, who initially started the magazine as a DIY zine on lowrider culture. The trio would invest money to get roughly 1,000 copies printed and begin publication. The magazine wasn’t an instant hit from the start. Sales lagged behind expectations and it took until Lowrider began placing more women models on its covers in 1979, that things began to pick up. 

“You wanted to see what was the hottest car, who was selling what, what tires were the best, and who was doing good interior. … Back then there weren’t [smart]phones so you had to get information from magazines,” Jerry Navarro, 45, a technician who works at a car shop in East L.A., told the LA Times. 

Navarro, along with countless others, grew up on the magazine and looked forward to its monthly coverage on the latest in car and Chicano culture. Its magazine covers became just as famous as its content, from famous Latinos like Cheech and Chong to rappers Snoop Dogg and Cypress Hill’s B-Real, all gracing the front. The magazine would also see expansion into music, sponsoring car shows nationally and the creation of a merchandise division. Its influence was seen in city streets across Southern California, particularly in places like East L.A., where lowriding became a cultural fixture. 

“Lowrider inspired so many youngsters who would go on and ignore the prevalent gang lifestyle of the ’90s in lieu of working on their vehicles. The magazine was much, much more than just pin-up models and cars.” Noe Adame, a correspondent for  L.A. Taco, told the news site. 

While it’s not clear if Lowrider will continue being published online, its legacy will certainly live on. 

While it’s not clear why TEN Publishing will cease publication of Lowrider, it follows a trend in recent years where magazine sales have dipped and in return have stopped printing altogether. 

“Simply put, we need to be where our audience is,” Alex Wellen, president-general manager of the MotorTrend Group, which is licensed by TEN Publishing, said in a memo“Tens of millions of fans visit MotorTrend’s digital properties every month, with the vast majority of our consumption on mobile, and 3 out of every 4 of our visitors favoring digital content over print. We remain committed to providing our fans and advertisers quality automotive storytelling and journalism across all of our content platforms.”

While Lowrider saw sales decline over the last few years, it was once one of the most popular magazines in the country. According to the LA Times, “by 2000, it was among the bestselling newsstand automotive periodicals in the country, with an average monthly circulation of about 210,000 copies.”

“At its heart, it’s been a key tool to keeping alive Chicanismo and Chicano identity,” Denise Sandoval, a lowrider expert and professor of Chicana and Chicano Studies at Cal State Northridge, told the LA Times. “I’ve met so many people who are not Chicano, that because they’re part of the lowrider community, they learn about Chicano history through that magazine.” Lowrider also challenged negative, stereotypical perceptions of lowriders as tough thugs and gang members.

When news that Lowrider printing will cease, some took to social media to acknowledge the impact the magazine has had on their lives. 

If there was ever a testament to Lowrider’s impact, just look to social media where many longtime readers voiced their disappointment to the magazine’s end. Some reflected on growing up looking at cool cars while others showed off their massive issue collections. 

It is indeed an end of an era but don’t tell that to the countless aficionados who are still keeping lowrider culture and community going strong today. To put in the simplest car terms, this is just a mere pit-stop. 

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