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A neon light art piece by Frank Romero

A neon light art piece by Frank Romero

J. Aaron Delgado

J. Aaron Delgado

A neon light art piece by Frank Romero

Sylvia Valdez, Intern

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Frank Romero, is an East Los Angeles native, who expressed an era though paintings. Frank grew up in Boyle Heights during the 1940’s. According to the Smithonian,“[He] grew up on the culturally mixed, middle-class Los Angeles community and was well into his career by the time he developed consciousness of being a Latino artist.”

As an active member of the Chicano civil rights movement, he gained high-level profile status as a member of the Chicano artist’s group “Los Four.” Artists Frank Romero, Carlos Almaraz, Beto de la Rocha, Gilbert Lujan and Judith Hernandez, collectively known as Los Four, are the founding fathers of the “East Los” School of Painting.

A well known painting by Romero is titled, The Death of Ruben Salazar. Finished in 1986, the painting depicts an uphill battle being fought for civil rights.

Frank pays homage to the LA Times journalist and key chronicler of the Chicano civil rights movement. Salazar finished covering the Chicano Moratorium of 1970, an important day in U.S history. “The Eas Los Angeles moratorium was the largest anti-Vietnam War demonstration by any minority group in the United States, including African-Americans,” Mario T. Garcia from National Catholic Reporter reports. As Salazar stepped into “The Silver Dollar Cafe,” to take a break, a tear gas projectile was shot into the cafe, killing Salazar. He suffered a head injury that instantly killed him.

Frank Romero’s painting demonstrates boldly, the incident of that day. His technique shouts loud and proud with traditional Chicano colors. The strokes of paint leave a heavy trace of pigment. The contrasting colors are anything but muted.

Romero’s work takes us back to the nonconformist East Los Angeles community, A time when the Chicano movement violently erupted. The painting along with his work can be found at the SAAM, Smithsonian American Art Museum, a prestige honor.

In an oral history interview that can be found on the Smithsonian’s website, Romero said, “In my studio I have to deal with my own devils, and I wrestle with my own concerns and dreams and fears.”

The Cal State LA graduates work is on display at Cal State LA’s Fine Arts building. The exhibit will be showing now until March 10th. Exhibit hours are Monday through Friday 12 to 5p.m.

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From the Barrio to The Smithsonian