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36 FALL 2010 Luis C. Garza FALL 2010 37 Siqueiros in Los Angeles: Censorship Defied For the times, they were a’changin’ . . . I t was 1971—an era of worldwide turbulence and social unrest. The United States was at odds with itself over an unpopular war being fought in far-off Vietnam. Student protests, civil rights demonstrations, and assassinations were the rules of the day. Within this setting, as fate would have it, I first came to meet famed Mexican muralist David Alfaro Siqueiros at the World Peace Conference held in Budapest, Hungary. This was an international gathering of representatives voicing party lines over current political issues, and he and I were members of the Mexican and American delegations, respectively. During those troubled times I was a UCLA film student and staff photographer for La Raza magazine, the journalistic voice of the Chicano movement in Los Angeles. I was also the magazine’s designated speaker at this auspicious assembly. Siqueiros, upon hearing that there was a Chicano in attendance, called for an introduction—“Compañero, cuentame de este movimiento Chicano”—and invited me to join him and fellow delegates in conversation, drinks, and laughter that lasted well into the wee hours of la mañana. Convergence Introduction It was the intensity of his green-eyed gaze, his shock of unruly hair, a testing playfulness or seriousness that would suddenly penetrate the moment. We moved about one another, visually engaged. Eye to camera eye, my finger upon the shutter release, recording our last seconds together . . . “Budapest, Hungary . . . . 1971; what the hell were you doing there?” That’s what I’m most often asked after recounting that extraordinary journey. Then, after seeing my Siqueiros photographs and hearing of my decades-old involvement to restore to public view his América Tropical mural at Olvera Street, the next question is, “Have you written any of this down?” From those conversations the concept for the Siqueiros in Los Angeles exhibition took root and began to evolve to its present form. My introduction to David Alfaro Siqueiros led to my self-education about Los Angeles history, early 20th-century art, politics, and good ole commerce, all of which gave birth to this now infamous América Tropical mural affair. Actually, as in all good stories, it’s a novella of epic implications, loaded with drama, and filled with an intriguing cast of characters, romance, art, and politics. q Opposite: Luis C. Garza (born 1943), Siqueiros Portrait, Budapest, Hungary, 1971, giclée print. Collection of the artist: Luis C. Garza Convergence

Siqueiros in Los Angeles: Censorship Defied

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