By Jesus Figueroa
The exhibit reception for “Carlos Almaraz: A Life Recalled” at the Vincent Price Art Museum on the East Los Angeles College campus brought inspiration to the community last Saturday.
The museum is named after the late Vincent Price, whose daughter, Victoria Price, attended her first exhibit opening at the Vincent Price Art Museum.
“Inspiration” was the word Victoria Price used to describe the artwork being displayed at the exhibit. She said, “Welcome to a show that I think is going to transform a lot of students’ lives, and certainly all of us here tonight can see the power of this work.”
Victoria Price said, “It’s exactly why my parents wanted to fund the museum. They really wanted to fund a place that was of service to the community, to show work that might not be shown in other places and may not have the opportunity as somewhere else.”
There were many people in attendance from community members to faculty and staff at the large gallery of the museum.
There were many colorful, creative and attention-grabbing paintings that showed the complexity of Almaraz’s way of looking at the world.
Victoria Price said that her father believed that “Art can not only change your life, but it can save your life.” That is what Victoria Price believes the community gains by having the exhibit in the museum.
The master of ceremony, Dan “Eddie” Guerrero, got a big response from the audience by being witty and funny.
Guerrero said “I wanted this to be here…in East L.A., because I wanted people to know we are not all just churros and low riders.”
Along with being the master of ceremony, Guerrero was also the one who brought the idea for the Carlos Almaraz exhibit to Karen Rapp, head of the Vincent Price Art Museum.
As an ELAC alumnus, Guerrero wanted to bring a different look to Almaraz and said, “I wanted this to be very personal, not just who or what he was as an artist, but who he was as a person, and then it grew from there.”
Elsa Flores Almaraz, who would rather be referred to as the beloved of the late Carlos Almaraz as opposed to his widow, said, “We for the first time get to see an intimate portrait of who Carlos was.”
She was very happy to provide many pieces of Almaraz’s artwork that many people had never seen.
The exhibit spans much of Almaraz’s life. Elsa Almaraz said it starts from his childhood which was wonderful, moves into his political period, then his domestic period and finally into his studio period in his last few years, which he’s so known for.
Almaraz was born on Oct. 5, 1941 in Zocolo, Mexico. He later moved to Chicago, Illinois with his parents at the age of one.
After staying in Chicago for nine years, his parents moved him to California. He lived in Wilmington, then Beverly Hills and later, East Los Angeles.
Almaraz graduated from Garfield High School and went to New York’s Loyola University, but quickly came back to East L.A. to continue on with his art.
Almaraz died at age 48 on Dec. 11, 1989. Along with the exhibit, there will also be a solo show written and performed by Guerrero, master of ceremony.
The show is inspired by Guerrero’s lifelong friendship with Almaraz.
The first show will be free of charge to students with ID at the ELAC Performing Arts Center P2 Proscenium Theater on Thursday, Oct. 4 at 1 p.m., followed by a second performance on Oct. 6 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10.
There will be two panels. The first, The Artist as Friends, is on Nov. 10 from 2 to 4 p.m. in the lecture hall of the Vincent Price Art Museum.
The second, The Artist in Context, is on Dec. 1 from 2 to 4 p.m. in the lecture hall of the Vincent Price Art Museum.
The panels are free and open to the public.
Price said “We want to be the center of this community. We want people to really feel like our doors are open, and this is for everyone.”
All the activities that the museum offers bring the new facilities to the public eye.
ELAC Interim President Farley Herzek thanked all who shared their works of art by Carlos Almaraz.
Herzek said that the event gives ELAC exposure, and that it brings out people who may have never experienced ELAC or East L.A. before.
“It’s just a great opportunity,” Herzek said.
Mark Guerrero, Dan Guerrero’s brother, then sang a “corrido” about Carlos Almaraz in which he said, “We pose a toast and raise a glass for Carlos Almaraz,” which concluded the guest speakers at the reception.
The exhibit has been on display since Aug. 25 and will end on Dec. 8.