By Erik Luna
In order to raise money for the Boys and Girls Club, local artists collaborated in the “Who Remembers in East LA? The Yearbook Exhibit” last Thursday at Cities Restaurant.
Self-proclaimed East Los Angeles historian and host of the event Victor Felix has made it his mission to educate the youth and bring a positive perspective to East LA.
In order to spread his message, Felix has turned to social media. His Facebook page “Who remembers in East LA?” has garnished a dedicated following with constant posts about East LA and its surrounding communities.
Classic custom made cars lined the streets of Avenida Cesar Chavez while Doo-wop could be heard a block away. Passing cars would honk in appreciation of the automotive art display.
“Forget about the stereotype that East LA is all about gangs – it’s not. People don’t know what we have underneath our nose,” Felix said. “The bottom line is that if people realize and take pride and ownership of what we have, I think East LA would be a better community.”
Artists displayed their work inside the restaurant and outside, as artist Robert Vargas painted murals of artists Johnny Vatos of Oingo Boingo and Ofelia Esparza.
Participating artist and former East Los Angeles College Campus News photographer Eddie Ruvalcaba said that the event was a small step in furthering the education of the youth.
“It’s all about the kids. They are the future and this is why we’re here. It’s an investment into the future,” Ruvalcaba said. “This is an amazing thing. To see the community come together in support of the Boys and Girls club.”
Ruvalcaba, who teaches photography at the Boyle Heights Boys and Girls club, described the collaboration of the artists at the exhibit as a crucial part in influencing up-and-coming artists in the community.
“We were influenced by the art of the ‘70s and the murals that were around and the music,” Ruvalcaba said. “That was a major influence on us. So I think the artists here today will be influencing the future generation, because the art just keeps expanding.”
Alongside the artists, musicians and coordinators that were inside displaying their work, car club members were outside displaying their cars.
Members of Klique East LA, a car club that started in 1964, reminisced and reflected on how things had changed.
“It isn’t bringing hoodlums together, but it’s expressing what we believe in friendship and family,” Klique member Cesar Lopez said alongside his friends and club members. “One thing you can notice is that there are a lot of different plaques here. There are a lot of different car clubs that are coming together now, [which] back in the day you couldn’t see that. It’s more united and family oriented,” Klique member Sammy Hess said.
The members of Klique East LA said that they are trying to put together a fundraiser to help out underprivileged children. One idea that was already planned was to have one at ELAC, yet it was scrapped at the last minute.
Felix, who dedicated the night to his son Isaac and in memory of his friend Ronald Lopez who died early last year, said that it was a small step in improving the neighborhood.
“I want to take it to a different level. I want to get the kids involved. I want to get the local high schools and colleges involved so they can display their works,” Felix said. “They are the future of thecommunity and I would love to unite the older generation with the new generation.”