Galeria Otra Vez 1988 to 1994
The Chicano art world-. The Chicano art world refers to Howard Becker’s social concepts of art worlds. He defines it as, “members coordinating the activities by which the work is produced by referring to a body of conventional understanding embodied in common practice” (1982, 34).
‘Bulk mail’ is use by many non-profit organizations to reduce the cost of their outgoing mail. For the postal service the mail must be presorted according to specific guidelines, size, length, weight and zip code.
Self Help Graphic’s Galeria Otra Vez was a 3,500 square foot non-profit art gallery located in the facilities of Self Help Graphics, in East Los Angeles, California. The gallery was founded in 1981 to provide artists the opportunity to exhibit in a professional setting. The gallery was operated on a volunteer basis. Artists or curator(s) organized each exhibition. “Otra Vez” in Spanish means “once again or “another one referring to Self Help Graphic’s monthly exhibitions.
Brooklyn Avenue is now named Cesar Chavez Avenue
During the late eighties an increasing number of Mexican Americans entered the art world via community organizations, galleries and the academia. Along with the surge of artists came an increasing exposure through the Internet and print. This created in increasing awareness on Chicano art and patrons. It has been these patrons who a have fueled the Chicano art world and given it an international reputation in the art world. The 80’s and early 90’s gave me the opportunity to witness that surge in the Chicano art world. The following is about my role in that surge at one of most prominent Chicano Art venues in the west coast Self Help Graphics.
In January of 1988 I approached Sister Karen Boccalero, the director of Self Help Graphics for an exhibition of my paintings. As I started planning for the exhibition, Sister Karen hands me a bunch of label sheets. Eighty percent hand written and the rest typed. I realized that her mailing list was unorganized, making the procedures for ‘bulk mail’ a cumbersome task. I offered to input over 1,000 names and addresses into a computer data base file and produce them on printed labels. After my exhibition, Sister Karen approach me in regards of being an 'artist in residence’. She also put me in charge of all the mailing and press releases for Self Help Graphic’s Galeria Otra Vez . By the end of the year I was managing all the exhibitions at Galleria Otra Vez.
In the first six months I used Self Help Graphic’s waiting list of artist, requesting to be part of the print program as recruitment. I made arrangements to meet and offered them an opportunity to exhibit at Galeria Otra Vez. In a year I manage to book the gallery with monthly exhibition for the next three years. The only month I did not book was October. Sister Karen was supportive in having scheduled all these exhibitions. It was the printing cost that gave her that extra wrinkle on her face. Sister and I agreed that community and struggling artists where the biggest priority and that exhibitions must be in groups. So I had to have an introspective look into many of the artists that I came in contact with. I had to make sure that they knew that Galeria Orta Vez operated on volunteer bases, but I would provide them the invitational flyer, press release and small funds for the opening reception.
The number of artists interested in having an exhibition at the gallery was so great, that I decided to have them participate at the Dia de los Muetors exhibition. By doing this I was able to serve many more artists. The open call for artist mailer would go out in August and I would canvas the neighborhood and schools so that local the community would be involved and informed about the event. I would begin to receive art works on the twenty fifth till November the first. The art work came in different sizes shapes, framed, unframed, works to be plug in or secured on a pedestal, etc. I remember when this tall slim elderly man came into the gallery while we were hanging the art and asked if he could create an altar. He said that he took pride in creating and setting them in his home in Jasico, Mexico. He wanted to pay tribute to his brother’s watercolor piece. He told me the story of how his older brother always painted and never had the opportunity to have other people see his talent. We gave him a corner and he brought his grandson into help that evening. The centerpiece was a 12” x 18” picture done in wash colors of black, read and blue, filled with happy folksy Calaveras at a festival. On the altar his bother placed his beat-up watercolor set, brushes, and pictures of his youth and of his last days. Of all the artwork that was hung had a home some feel to it. His piece just reminded me of what to look forward to on November the 2nd, a festival at an art exhibition.
I grew up in City Terrace where my backyard had a view of many steeples, rooftops, and the colorful building on the corner of Brooklyn and Gage. I attended a catholic school in one of those steeples. At that time I never knew that there was a deep connection between those steeples and Self Help Graphics. Sister Karen made the hills of City Terrace feel proud of their artists and culture. I knew that is was an anomaly to have a Catholic nun direct a Chicano art organization. My goal there was to expand the mission of Self Help Graphics on a volunteer bases on Sister Karen's words and actions. The more artists that I gave opportunity too, the more exposure they would have and at the end, the more patrons the Chicano art world would have. That was my role as Director Self Help Graphic’s Dia De Los Muertors Exhibitions and celebration at Galeria Otra Vez from 1988 to 1994.