Former Artists Building Becomes Medical Offices

By Gloria Angelina Castillo, EGP Staff Writer

The colorfully tiled two-story building that was used for decades as the headquarters of the Self Help Graphics and Arts, a center for Chicano artists, has a new lease on life. The building is now home to a physical therapy office, specializing in worker’s compensation patients. Remodeling for a medical clinic is also underway at the site.

The building located on E. Cesar Chavez Avenue was purchased by Atlantis Health Management, Inc. President Alejandro de Hoyos in Aug. 2011 for $1.2 million and has undergone some extensive renovations.

Atlantis Health Management, Inc. is relocating operations from their 3rd Street location, in East LA, to the new site, according to de Hoyos.

De Hoyos said the building allows them to offer all their services under one roof, which was becoming a challenge at their soon to be former site.

The first story of the building is now split into two. The physical therapy office is open accepting seeing patients, while the clinic, which will house orthopedic surgeons, is currently under construction. Casa Puebla, a former tenant on the bottom floor, moved out in June, De Hoyos said.

The top floor will be used as office space and as a rental hall for events such as Quinceañeras and other parties, he said.

One section of the bottom floor of the former Self-Help Graphics & Arts building is now a physical therapy office. EGP photo by Gloria Angelina Castillo

Dr. Hoyos admits he knew nothing about the building’ s history or the controversy surrounding it when he bid on the property. It was not until the property was in escrow that he learned about the building’s history, he said.

Built in 1927, the facility was for a long time home to Self Help Graphics & Arts, an eastside Chicano arts institution— until the Los Angeles Catholic Archdiocese on behalf of the order of nuns that had allowed the artists to use the space rent-free for decades sold it. Unable to pay the new market rate rent, Self Help Graphics & Art moved to E. 1st Street in Boyle Heights.

“When people come, they say ‘I cannot believe it’s the same place,’” De Hoyos said about the improvements to the building.

De Hoyos says he wants to keep the building’s exterior the same, and make it a clean and nice facility for his clients.

De Hoyos was born in Ensenada, Mexico, and while he has lived in the Los Angeles area for decades, he says he is not a “Chicano.”

Nonetheless, the longstanding use of the building by Chicano artists is something he would like to see continue. De Hoyos says he would like to see shows, performances, gallery exhibits and even Christmas parties held in the upstairs hall.

De Hoyos is no stranger to the entertainment industry; he is a producer and actor. He is also an entrepreneur. He has a translation company that specializes in interpreting for doctors, which is how he eventually became interested in health management.

Injured workers who are using Worker’s Compensation often don’t get treated properly, not by their employers nor by some of the doctors who treat them, De Hoyos told EGP; that is why keeping the building presentable and giving his clients quality and professional care is so important to him, he said.

“I want people to see that this is something good for the community,” he said.

In 2011, the former Self Help Graphics and Art Building was determined eligible for listing in the California Register of Historical Resources. However, the building was determined as a historic resource “based on its cultural, not architectural, significance, setting an important precedent,” the LA Conservancy states on its website.

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August 23, 2012  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

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