Murals of “Godfather of Chicano art” to be restored in California

Chicano art is made by descendants of Mexican immigrants who established in the United States

Murals of “Godfather of Chicano art” to be restored in California
The works of Emigdio Vásquez can be seen all over the Orange Country – Photo: Taken from Higgy Vásquez’s Facebook account
English 04/09/2019 19:12 EFE Actualizada 19:12

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The murals of the “Godfather of Chicano Art,” Emigdio Vásquez are vanishing in the streets of South California because of time, and with them the message of assertion, a tendency that the son of the artist wants to reverse.

The challenge of recovering the artistic heritage of Vásquez (1939-2014) has been taken by his third son, Emigdio “Higgy” Vásquez, who besides the name of his father inherited the love for painting and art.

“After the death of my father, I started to see that many of his murals were disappearing, the walls of some of them had even fallen,” said to EFE Higgy Vásquez.



Una publicación compartida de Higgy Vasquez (@artist_higgy) el

With a prolific body of work that can be seen mainly in the Orange County, South California, Emigdio Vásquez is pointed out as one of the most outstanding artists of Chicano art, that is, the one made by descendants of Mexican immigrants which, in his case, were established in Arizona, where the muralist was born.

The artist, the author of the mural “The Legacy of César Chávez” and with works of a marked social realism, was commissioned to do an average of two murals each year, many of which were not designed to remain for a long time, hence the difficulty of the task undertaken by his son.

An instance of the deterioration suffered by his work is the mural “The Children of the World” (1994) located in a wall in Lemon park in Fullerton City and which had not been retouched or protected during all this time.



Una publicación compartida de Higgy Vasquez (@artist_higgy) el

For Higgy, this work, which shows children from different regions of the world, is very special, since it was the first time he helped his father after being almost six years as an apprentice.

“I organized all the paintings and came every day to help him, I painted almost half of the mural,” he says full of emotion about the work he restored with the help of his wife, documentalist Katherine Bowers.

The family of the artist was not the only worried about the deterioration of “The Children of the World” and the neighbors moved Fullerton’s councilor, Ahmad Zahra, to recover the work that became in icon of diversity, an initiative that paid off when last May the city approved a budget to save the mural.



Una publicación compartida de Higgy Vasquez (@artist_higgy) el

“Everyday I receive positive comments from different persons, people offer help or money for the paint; the reception has been very good, especially for those from those who grew up seeing the mural,” said Higgy.

Professor of Chapman University and former curator of Bowers Museum, Paul Apodaca, asserts in an academic publication that “ Emigdio Vásquez is one of the true cultural and artistic treasures of the Orange County,” an area of conservative tendency and where for decades Latinos have look for recognition to their contributions.

The work and legacy of Vásquez was a reason for homage, as well as for his son, in the international exhibition Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, made in 2017, for which Chapman University created the app “My Barrio Murals” to locate the murals.



Una publicación compartida de Higgy Vasquez (@artist_higgy) el

The efforts to recover the works of the “Godfather of Chicano art” are also directed to murals such as “A Day in the Market” (1983), which disappeared when the building where it was was demolished to build a new construction.

Higgy explained that he has recovered layouts of this and other murals with the idea of finding one day a safe place in which to paint them once again.

The mural for which he is looking for funding is “Chicano Gothic” (1987), which shows the life of Mexican-American workers of the area and is based in “American Gothic” (1930) by painter Grant Wood. The work is basically hidden from the public behind a gate in Santa Ana park.

“There is a lot of work to do, many murals to rescue,” highlighted Higgy.