Art works new and old highlighted Saturday’s celebration of Mexican Independence Day, which will be climaxed today with the traditional East Los Angeles parade that is expected to draw about 350,000 spectators along its three-mile route.
The celebration marks the 175th anniversary of the beginning of Mexico’s long and bloody struggle against 300 years of Spanish colonial rule. It was on Sept. 16, 1810, that Father Miguel Hidalgo de Costilla exhorted a band of Indians in the village of Dolores to rebel against the Spaniards, touching off 11 years of fighting that finally resulted in the creation of an independent Mexico.
The celebration of 16 de Septiembre is one of Mexico’s major holidays, and is observed in Los Angeles with parties, dances and parades that encompass the entire Latino community.
At noon Saturday, a new work of art--a 200-foot mural painted on the concrete embankments on both sides of the 1400 block of W. Morton Place in Echo Park--was dedicated before a small crowd of about 150 to 200.
The mural, sponsored by El Centro del Pueblo, was designed by artists James Garcia and Janet Lee Sellers, with help from guest artist Sue Ann Foulis, and depicts major events in Chicano life from mythological times through the present and into the future.
The colorful historical and futuristic scenes, painted by two dozen members of rival street gangs, cover what once was a graffiti-marred pair of concrete retaining walls climbing to the entrance of Elysian Park.
The scenes are symbolically contained within the outlined body of the plumed serpent Quetzalcoatl, the ancient Aztec god that proclaims earthbound man’s striving to “reach the sky.”
Assemblyman Richard Alatorre (D-Los Angeles) and City Councilman Michael Woo were among the speakers at the dedication program.
Fifty paintings, drawings and prints by Mexican artist David Alfaro Siqueiros, ranked among the greatest of his time, went on exhibition at La Raza Center in Lincoln Park Saturday evening. Siquerios, jailed and then exiled for his revolutionary activities, died in 1974 at the age of 77, after influencing some of the century’s leading artists. The exhibition will continue for six weeks.
And thousands of celebrants turned out for a carnival sponsored by the Latino Chamber of Commerce with food, game booths and entertainers at Alameda Auto Plaza in Compton Saturday afternoon.
Today’s Independence Day Parade features Kathleen Calderon, assistant state secretary of business, transportation and housing, as grand marshal. It will start at 1 p.m. from 1st Street and Morena Avenue and travel through East Los Angeles to Belvedere Park, where a carnival, games, dancing and other activities will continue through the day.
Chairman Sal Lopez said 125 units, including 25 floats and marching bands from Garfield, Roosevelt and Norwalk high schools will take part in the parade.