Saturday, November 29, 2014

Manuel Gomez Cruz

I was driving on Cesar Chavez past Evergreen Cemetery when I saw this wall.  I had seen it before.

It was just before Christmas in 2010.  I saw a mural on Fresno, and turned for a closer look.  First I was impressed by the contrast between the Nativity Scene painted on the wall, and the Christmas decorations in the window.  Two versions of what Christmas means.

  I photographed the rest of the mural.  

Religious art fills many of the walls of Los Angeles.  This  L.A. Times opinion column includes this mural, and others.  I was impressed with the reverence.  I was sure the artist knew a lot more about the life of Christ than I do,  but it looked like he had never took a figure drawing class.  I photographed some of the details that didn't show well in the pictures of the whole wall.

I especially liked the way the screen was painted to depict Barabbas imprisoned.  

I googled the artist.

Manuel Gomez Cruz was a muralist from the early days of Chicano murals in Los Angeles.  I only became aware of this movement when I saw the murals of Ramona Gardens and Estrada Courts featured in the L.A. Times.  That was when I lived in a neighborhood that has officially declared it's not on the Eastside, but is nevertheless included in The Eastsider blog. The only thing it's on the east side of is Hollywood.  I admired the pictures in the paper, but I wouldn't see them until most were faded and gone, with only a few that had been restored. The east side and the west side are divided by not only culture, but that big traffic jam called "downtown."

Artist Sonya Fe remembered Cruz from their days at the Mechicano Art Center and wrote an article for KCET in 2012.  

He published two or more books-- A Chicano Christmas is in print again and available from SPARC.  Cholito and the Artist is out of print, but available at Los Angeles Public Library.  

"To ace out a homeboy from another barrio is to kill La Raza" was painted at Ramona Gardens in 1974.  I found this picture of it on Pinterest.

I went to see whether it is still there.  This is what I found-

I didn't even recognize it until I uploaded the photo.

I looked at the lists of where his murals had been. I've checked many but not all of the locations.  I found this mural at the Moctezuma Cafe in Bolye Heights.  If they'd been open, I would have eaten there.  It's not completely free of tagging, but looks like its being regularly maintained. According to the signature it was originally painted in 1981and restored in 1996.

There are different versions of what happened when Cortez encountered Moctezuma in 1519. This one shows the Aztecs putting up a good fight against the Spanish invaders.

Carlos Duran worked on this section in 2005.

I haven't learned anything about Carlos Duran except that he worked with several artists on a mural called "Inspired by Siqueros" in Culver City.  

He also did this wonderful mosaic, "La Cometa."

Eric Huerta posted a wonderful link on Facebook with pictures of many L.A. murals taken between 1998 and 2002.

Cruz painted these at the  La Princesita Carniceria on Cesar Chavez Ave. One and another.


  1. This is my fathers work, ty for sharing..God bless you