New Exhibit Captures Latinos’ Timeless Spirit

September 13, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Los Angeles City Hall plays a supportive role in a exhibit of Rick Ortega’s art opening this weekend at the ChimMaya Gallery in East Los Angeles.

It’s a fitting inclusion given that L.A. City Hall on Friday will play host as it has for decades to “El Grito,” a festive commemoration on the eve of Mexico’s Independence Day on Sept. 16. It should be noted, that “El Grito” has been expanded over the years to include the independence days of Nicaragua, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Honduras, El Salvador & Chile, and the month long observance of Latino Heritage Month.

With Latino Heritage month set to start on Sept. 15, the opening of two new exhibitions marking the 12th anniversary of ChimMaya – a gallery its owner says was established to support and highlight emerging Latino artists – is a visual reminder of Los Angeles’ deep Latino roots and culture.

Artist Rick Ortega says his art (pictured) is a reflection of modern day Latinos that still carry “the spirit” of past generations. His new exhibition, “Nuestro Espiritu/Our Spirit is Timeless,” opens Sunday in East Los Angeles. (Photo courtesy ChimMaya Gallery)

Artist Rick Ortega says his art (pictured) is a reflection of modern day Latinos that still carry “the spirit” of past generations. His new exhibition, “Nuestro Espiritu/Our Spirit is Timeless,” opens Sunday in East Los Angeles. (Photo courtesy ChimMaya Gallery)

Located on Beverly Boulevard near the border of East L.A. and Montebello, ChimMaya’s unpretentious exterior belies the Latino cultural beauty found in its four separate gallery spaces, showcasing Latino art, jewelry and classic furniture.

ChimMaya owner Steve Acevedo told EGP that he never intended to own an art gallery, but after opening his handbag and jewelry store, his customers started telling him about friends and relatives who were great artists, encouraging him to bring their works into his store.

“Once I decided to showcase artists work it became about connecting with the community and showcasing predominantly Latino art,” Acevedo said.

On Sunday, ChimMaya will hold an opening reception for two new shows at the gallery, one is a group show, the other highlights artist Rick Ortega who is returning to the gallery after a 7-year absence.

In an interview with EGP, Ortega recalled being a young artist in search of a place to show his work and ChimMaya opening its doors to him.

Rick (Ortega) was rejected by a number of galleries on the Westside, recalled Acevedo, telling EGP that those galleries wanted Ortega to change the subjects in his work.

“It’s crazy,” Acevedo said. “How do you tell someone to change what they see?” he said incredulous. Rick, he pointed out,  “doesn’t put anything in his work that doesn’t have significance.”

Ortega’s new exhibit is titled “Nuestro Espiritu/Our Spirit is Timeless.” The artist said the exhibit has special meaning to him, capturing “a time in his life when he stepped away from his art while searching for inner peace.”

“Life takes you through some rough patches,” Ortega said. “When you come out of this darkness, this depression, you realize that life is good.”

According to Ortega, he had to transform his negative energy into something positive in order to be able to once again create art.

His work is a reflection of modern day Latinos that still carry “the spirit” of past generations, explains Ortega about the pieces included in the exhibition.

“Nuestro Espiritu/Our Spirit is Timeless” opens Sunday at ChimMaya Gallery in East Los Angeles

“Nuestro Espiritu/Our Spirit is Timeless” opens Sunday at ChimMaya Gallery in East Los Angeles

The artist describes his latest exhibit as a weapon against the Trump administration, and at the same time “a weapon of hope” that puts to rest misconceptions spoken by President Trump.

“No matter what politicians” say, one always has a voice and “mine is art,” Ortega said, adding that art has the ability to lift one’s spirit.

With this exhibit, “I’m showing the world who Latinos and Chicanos really are and what they stand for,” he told EGP, calling it an honor to be showcased at ChimMaya.

While the month-long celebration of Latino history is important, Ortega points out that Latinos celebrate all the time.

“We are always celebrating, through art, music and poetry,” he observed. “I’m just glad to be part of the movement of artists that continue to keep Latino history alive.”

Echoing Ortega, Acevedo said his gallery is a place where you can celebrate Latino heritage every day.

“It’s nice that Latino history is being recognized, but a month is just that, a month,” Acevedo said.

Quoting a famous line from the movie “Field of Dreams,” “If you build it, they will come,” Acevedo told EGP that ChimMaya has become a safe haven for artists and the surrounding community.

“We have artists that capture the beauty of our community,” he said. “And ChimMaya is that place close to home to come and view that beauty.”

The opening reception for ChimMaya’s new exhibitions will take place on Sunday, Sept.17 from 4-7p.m. The gallery is located at 5282 E. Beverly Blvd., L.A. 90022.

Trump Rescinds DACA: 800,000 Recipients at Risk

September 5, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Southland Democratic leaders and immigrant advocates lashed out harshly today at the Trump Administration decision to phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which has protected an estimated 800,000 people – including more than 242,000 in California – who were brought to the country as children from deportation.

Activists immediately planned to take to the streets to protest the move, which was announced by Attorney General Jeff Sessions on behalf of President Donald Trump.

Trump Terminates DACA: Protesters begin to gather at L.A. City Hall for march to federal building. (EGP photo by Fred Zermeno)

Trump Terminates DACA: Protesters begin to gather at L.A. City Hall for march to federal building. (EGP photo by Fred Zermeno)

Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Los Angeles, called the president’s decision to rescind the program “outrageous.” This is a “heartbreaking day for the US and the bright young DACA recipients who know no home but America,” she said on Twitter.

Under the action by the Trump Administration, Congress will be given six months to attempt to pass legislation addressing DACA before the program is phased out.

Congresswoman Grace Napolitano, D-El Monte, also on Twitter, urged all her “Republican colleagues to join us & take action to #ProtectDreamers! #DefendDACA!”

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said, “President Trump’s action on DACA is cruel — it threatens to tear families apart, put our economy at risk, and will do nothing to unify America or make us more secure.”

“Today’s decision is a giant setback for America, because all our children should feel safe and accepted in a country that belongs to them,” Garcetti said. “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals has allowed close to 800,000 ambitious, patriotic young people to start careers, stay in school, and
give back to our communities without fear of being torn from the people they love.”

The mayor also urged congress to act quickly on legislation: “… They belong here. And we’ll fight for them to stay.”

In defending the decision, Trump said President Barack Obama over-stepped his authority in creating the DACA program.

“In June of 2012, President Obama bypassed Congress to give work permits, Social Security numbers and federal benefits to approximately 800,000 illegal immigrants currently between the ages of 15 and 36,” Trump said. “The typical recipients of this executive amnesty, known as DACA, are in their 20s. Legislation offering these same benefits had been introduced in Congress on numerous occasions and rejected each time.”

Trump added: “Only by the reliable enforcement of immigration law can we produce safe communities, a robust middle class and economic fairness for all Americans.”

He noted that officials from 10 states are suing over the program, and his legal advisers have determined that it is “unlawful and unconstitutional and cannot be successfully defended in court.”

Those arguments did little to appease Democratic lawmakers.

Sen. Kamala Harris, D-California, said DACA recipients “make our nation strong and represent the best of America” and rescinding the program “undermines our nation’s values and is a cruel betrayal” of DREAMers. Rep.Adam Schiff, D-Burbank, criticized the “cruel and arbitrary attack” on them.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, urged Congress to move forward with legislation known as the DREAM Act that would provide a path to citizenship for DREAMers — the term used for DACA recipients.

“Failure to protect young people who have come out of the shadows would constitute an abject moral failure,” Feinstein said.

Officials with the Service Employees International Union decried what it called a “shameful attack” against DACA beneficiaries.

The Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles said members were ready to gather at the offices of Republican legislators, including Rep. Steven Knight in Santa Clarita and Rep. Mimi Walters in Irvine, as well as Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s office in Bakersfield.

Additionally, scores of workers and community members planned a midday march through downtown L.A. from the steps of City Hall to the federal building on the 200 block of east Temple Street.

Introduced by Obama in 2012, DACA allows people who were brought into the United States illegally as children to work and study in the country without fear of being deported. DACA has been available to immigrants without criminal records who were brought to the country when they were younger than 16 years old. Work permits issued under DACA must be renewed every two years.

Trump has taken a hard stance against illegal immigration, but until recently had not given a strong indication of whether he would keep DACA in place.

Asked over the weekend whether DACA recipients should be worried, Trump responded, “We love the DREAMers. We love everybody. … We think the DREAMers are terrific.”

Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, is one of many elected officials of both parties who have criticized the president’s plans.

“Trump’s cowardly decision to end DACA goes against the very forces that have made America an exceptional country,” Lieu said. “Deporting hundreds of thousands of Asians and Latinos — nearly half of whom were brought to the U.S. before the age of 7 — is not only cruel, it will hurt our economy.”

EGP staff writers contributed to this report.

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