A few weeks ago, on October 9, the much-anticipated unveiling of the recently conserved mural América Tropical by David Alfaro Siqueiros—one of the great Mexican artists of the 20th century—took place. Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and James Cuno, president and CEO of the Getty Trust, cut the ribbon, and the América Tropical Interpretive Center was officially open. It was the culmination of many years of efforts by the Getty Conservation Institute and the City of Los Angeles to study, conserve, protect, and provide the public with access to the mural.
This past Saturday, November 3, it was the community’s turn to celebrate and explore the artistic, social, and historical significance of América Tropical at a family festival presented by the Getty Conservation Institute, LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes, and El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument. From a Day of the Dead altar by artist Ofelia Esparza dedicated to Siqueiros, to Mayan twins vanquishing demons, there was something for everyone—including mariachi musicians, Aztec dancers, capering skeletons, street theater, and fun workshops, as well as an opera and a philharmonic performance, both inspired by América Tropical.
For Ofelia Espaza, who has been creating altars for over 30 years, this was an opportunity to bring awareness to an artist who had been so censored for his political views only a few yards away. “He left not only Los Angeles a treasure, but the whole world,” said the 80-year-old artist. “His work still resonates today. I always wanted to put across an idea that was larger and more universal. That’s quite an inspiration to any artist.”
And of course, it was an opportunity to visit the new América Tropical Interpretive Center and view the mural. Among the crowd waiting patiently to access the viewing platform were elementary-school student reporters and members of PressFriends, Asumi (Peacock Press), Liliana (BGC Kids News), and Fibiana, a PressFriends mentor. All three will be reporting back to their classmates about América Tropical and David Alfaro Siqueiros.
If you weren’t able to join in the fun, you can still have your own celebration. The América Tropical Interpretive Center, located at El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument, is open Tuesday–Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.