De todo Corazón: Boyle Heights

Event: Art Gallery.

She is Art. Karla Camacho.

Yesterday I attended a free public art event in Boyle Heights. The event was titled “De todo Corazón” (With all my Heart) featuring “Art de Karla” at Espacio 1839, a book clothing art store, and radio station, located near Mariachi plaza. Karla Camacho creatively displayed Mexican pride through her artwork’s paintings and sculptures. Her artwork is a reflection and peak into Mexican culture, context, identity. The use of vibrant colors such as pink, turquoise, orange, yellow, green, and blue honor Mexico, and the culture’s liveliness. She breeds a loving racial dialogue. I observe. I think of my mother, my family…myself and friends.

I walk around Espacio. Boyle Height natives talk. In the background, Dj Sizzle Fantastic played remixes of cumbia and merengue. Some hips sway, some feet move. She Dj’s liveliness into the room. I hear stories. 

Natives touch on topics of gentrification and art washing, they’re mentioned as oppressive factors in their community. Art washing is a term defined as “adding a cultural sheen to a developing neighborhood” (nonprofit quarterly 2016). The “cultural sheen” is gentrification. Privately funded art spaces versus local grass root organizations. New projects and developments, such as private art spaces, are established to support corporate sectors and investors to attract, renew, and “refine” social environments. As a result, home and neighborhood value increases, natives are forced to move, and a shift in the city’s demographic takes place. Many are impacted, but the marginalized Artist was an expressed concern in last night’s grassroot event. The Miami Heralds (2016) article explains a perspective from the marginalized Artist:

“Artists find themselves in the uncomfortable and confusing position”…”We often find ourselves in the middle. We’re in the same financial place as the community, but we have the power to infiltrate these spaces with the elite, though we’re not part of the elite. Are we responsible for this, and what part do we play?… A complex dance of mutual exploitation between artists and real estate.”

Boyle height’s atmosphere is predominantly Latino culture; however, the successors, and investors of the status quo aren’t Latinos… nor from the community. Thus, native voices are desolate in their own community.

So far distribution, policies, and development policy and action are implementions that work in favor of corporate and private sectors. Boyle Heights is a city reputable since the 1940s for social and political organizations, and protests to defend city and locals from racial tension and violence, gang activity, resources, and low-income housing. Gentrification continues to masks many social problems, as well creates new issues and related patterns. For instance, expensive housing forces individuals in to migrate, households are overpopulated for the convenience of affordability, and lastly some can’t afford/cope, which leads to predicaments of homelessness. Social Darwinism sets place. Developers have a three step gentrification process: (1) attract investors (2) appropriate social culture, values, and environment (3) commodify. Gentrification generates social exclusion, even if it appears as contrary. I walk around Espacio. An Allie, I listen, connect, and recognize local voices and their important messages, such as natives from last night’s Boyle Heights community. 

Los Angeles is my home, but I’m transient. I do not pertain to one city because I’m a nomad to my city. Thus, I pertain and find home in each and all…We talk Art and Politics, smoke herb, and vibe. Our concluded argument remains:

Though we are a new generation, we too, like previous generations, are exhausted of theorizing while newly applied institutional practices emerge.

Emotional Contagion. Solidarity for culture and community permeate the space.

Dreams Resilience and Culture. Karla is fresh, an ambiguous representation of an existing cultural identity in Los Angeles, and America. Karla’s talented art work, the music, and delicious Latin snacks non verbally communicate Latin Love. Duvalin, rosa masapan, pulparindo tamarindo, conchitas de pan, I traveled the journey of my Mexican childhood. I reminisce of my birthday parties posing for pictures at the park with my piñata, mother, and family. Evening dreaming, I hear Spanglish tongues. I’m fed another piece of me. Last night Latin roots surfaced in me. Karla successfully displays the pieces of We. Her epic heart paintings… I heard my Abuelita recite oraciones (prayers) in Spanish to me… I breathe. I pray for Culture and Humanity.

I walk around Espacio.The incredible store and safe space also has great reads. The Boyle Heights store owners are allies of our Black community! Espacio sells several classics from authors Sandra Ciseneros, Gloria Anzaldua, Audre Lorde, Malcom X, James Balwdin, Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, on and on. I was content. I touched books, pages, and front covers. Theories on theories. I took note of the font I like too. I walk around Espacio. I see Art. I exit reality and dream of one day having a library filled with their books. I dream of publishing my own books… I dream of hosting community Art events…

I leave my cloudy dreams to re enter reality. Karla’s art work in front of me… Her artwork triggers me. I think of my Mexican mother, our stories,  and distinct Latina American Dreams.

De todo Corazón, it was an honor to be around Artists and community.

Thank you for the invitation wonderful event and space!

Karla Camacho:

Espacio 1839:
1839 East 1st St. Los Angeles, CA 90033

Thank you Sandy!


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