Louis Jacinto

onodream Press

Sunset Junction Street Fair

Sunset Junction Street Fair, 1981

I was hired to photograph the Sunset Junction Street Fair during its 2nd and 3rd years, covering the periods 1981 and 1982. This annual Los Angeles event was held at the end of August and continued for 30 years to its final date in 2010. As the years went on, the festival became larger and more commercialized, losing its neighborhood feel. Additionally, within the intervening 30 years, the original need for lessening the tensions between the Latino and Gay and Lesbian communities had ceased, especially as the entire nation moved towards the acceptance of Gay and Lesbian rights and equal protection.

The National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights was a large political rally that took place in Washington, D.C. on October 14, 1979. The first such march on Washington drew approximately 125,000 gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, transgender people, and straight allies to demand equal civil rights and urge the passage of protective civil rights legislation.

Among those in attendance at this historic gathering were a group of community leaders who lived in the Echo Park, Silver Lake and Los Feliz neighborhoods of Los Angeles, the city’s most diverse. These 3 Los Angeles communities, located just northwest of downtown, included every group possible – ethnically, racially, economically – living side by side. Also included was the ubiquitous gay and lesbian community.

Energized by their experience in the nation’s capital, several of these community leaders met to discuss ideas of how they could bring their enthusiasm from the March on Washington to their community.

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Robert Aguayo, Mayor Tom Bradley, Joyce Azelton, David Martinez, 1981

At the time Latino street gangs were attacking members of the gay community, usually at night after the local gay bars closed down at 2 a.m. The community leaders – including Joyce Azelton, Joc Church, Caroline Bernard, Priscilla Warren, Diane Clark, Michael McKinley, Ray Lusink and Peter Losee, among others, wanted to address this serious issue.

After several brainstorming meetings, the group agreed upon a festival where all members of this beautiful, diverse community would participate and celebrate each other’s cultures, working side by side to demonstrate how their commonalities far exceeded their differences.

Of importance was bringing together the 5 local street gangs to call a truce with each other and provide security for the festival.

Unlike most communities throughout Los Angeles who shunned street gangs at public events, the Echo Park, Silver Lake and Los Feliz communities recognized that the pride that such gangs held for their neighborhood could be used to show that pride in this celebration.

Local police quickly opposed this idea, stating that the 5 street gangs would never cooperate and honor the truce, and blood would be flowing in the streets.

But the festival planners, along with the support of the neighborhood social service organizations, businesses and schools, lobbied for the support of the event to the local city council member. Not a single incident occurred.

Thus was born, in 1980, the Sunset Junction Street Fair. Closing off Sunset Boulevard, the main thoroughfare running through Silver Lake, the community held an opening parade and welcoming ceremony by the local politicians and the other sponsors of the event.

For two weekend nights that summer, the entire community came together and welcomed the entire city to join them and learn how living in harmony with each other can be accomplished.

This, my body of work, photographically documents this culturally, politically and socially important event in Los Angeles’ history at its nascent pivotal point.

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Mama Mime, Sunset Junction Street Fair, 1981

Equal Rights Amendment

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Jane Fonda and Lee Grant, ERA Rally, Los Angeles, 1976

1976.

May.

I had been living in Los Angeles for 7 months by then, moving from my hometown of Bakersfield, California to attend my third year of college.

By this time, a roommate didn’t have enough money for her share of the rent so she offered to pay with her 35-millimeter camera.  I said yes.

In high school I made Super 8 movies and took “artsy” photographs with my Kodak 110 camera, so this “real” camera was a Godsend.  During my first two years of college in Bakersfield I had taken photography classes and printed my photographs from my 110 negatives.  So I enrolled in photography again, mostly to have access to the darkroom so I could start printing with this new camera.

I had met Mark Vieira at a student dance a couple of months before.  He was a photographer and worked at the University of Southern California.  After all these years, Mark and I remain friends and he has had an incredible career as a photographer as well as being the author of several books on the Golden Age of Hollywood.

So back in May of 1976, I had heard that Jane Fonda and Lee Grant were going to be speaking at an Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) rally on the campus of USC.  I told Mark we should go.  I shot an entire roll of film; Mark shot some film too, but I think mostly of me.

Although I could do a great job of printing my black and white photographs, I didn’t do too well at developing the actual film.  This roll from the ERA rally turned out to be my last.  A lot of the images came out very poorly, not from the camera, but from my blundering in the darkroom.  I realized the risk of ruining a roll of film, especially with once in a lifetime images, was not worth the risk. Today, with the help of computers, the images have been saved.

Below is what the Equal Rights Amendment was about and what happened to it.  I thought of these images from that time with the recent death of the misguided conservative Phyllis Schlafly.

“The Equal Rights Amendment was a proposed amendment to the United States Constitution designed to guarantee equal rights for women. The ERA was originally written by Alice Paul and Crystal Eastman. In 1923, it was introduced in the Congress for the first time. The ERA has always been highly controversial regarding the meaning of equality for women. It was “feminist against feminist”, said historian Judith Sealander; the result was the eventual defeat of the ERA.  Middle-class women generally were supportive. Those speaking for the working class were strongly opposed, arguing that employed women needed special protections regarding working conditions and hours. In 1972, it passed both houses of Congress and was submitted to the state legislatures for ratification. It seemed headed for quick approval until Phyllis Schlafly mobilized conservative women in opposition, arguing that the ERA would disadvantage housewives.

Congress had set a ratification deadline of March 22, 1979. Through 1977, the amendment received 35 of the necessary 38 state ratifications. Five states rescinded their ratifications before the 1979 deadline. In 1978, a joint resolution of Congress extended the ratification deadline to June 30, 1982, but no further states ratified the amendment and so it did not become part of the Constitution. Several organizations continue to work for the adoption of the ERA.”

 

Angela Davis

I remember a conversation from many years ago.   My friend Bill Saxon and I were talking and he said he wanted to become an activist.  About what, he didn’t say.  But I remember thinking that he must be thinking of only the attention an activist receives from some college kids who were too young to have been able to participate in the social upheavals of the 1960s.  I was in college, in Los Angeles, during the mid-1970s.

I think Bill only heard the applause at rallies and conferences, causing the crowd to rise to its feet with each new “revolutionary” revelation espoused from the stage.  That does not an activist make.

The impetus behind the life and the work of a true activist is not the search for celebrity, but rather the search and the end goal of societal change.

In 1969 I finished grammar school and began High School.  That was the year everything seemed to have changed.  My first heroes, The Beatles announced their break-up.  Diana Ross announced she was leaving The Supremes, my other heroes.  Simon and Garfunkel broke up; they sang a song about Frank Lloyd Wright, my favorite architect, on their farewell album.  An American astronaut landed on the moon; my paternal grandfather never believed it.  Judy Garland died during that summer; drag queens, gays and lesbians in New York City said NO to police harassment the following weekend.

It was during this time that Angela Davis was fired from her teaching position at the   University of California Los Angeles for being a Communist.  I wasn’t a Communist, but I knew that our nation allowed all of us to believe – or not believe – any way we wished.

By October of 1969 Angela Davis was hired back.  Her continued journey into my          consciousness would continue into the tumultuous few years ahead.

By the time I took these photographs in 1978, I realized that a true activist works.  It is we – the “fans”, the media – who build up the images and then quickly abandon “the cause” that becomes no longer au courant.

Much work in her struggle for making the world a better place for all continued for    Angela Davis whether followed by the masses or not.

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ANGELA by Louis Jacinto

THE BILLIE DIALOGS

Photograph by Louis Jacinto

Photograph by Louis Jacinto

I Can Hear You Through My Earrings – The Louis Jacinto Chronicles

He didn’t think sacrifice was a luxury.

It was evident in the grey streaks of his mascara.

– Billie Quijano

THE BILLIE DIALOGS

Photograph by Billie Quijano

Photograph by Billie Quijano

She is looking at us, focusing her telescopic eye for a true view of what she sees us doing.

She knows us.

She protects her throat.

She protects her brain.

She knows us.

We need her to see us so we can see, through her, what we are doing.

– Louis Jacinto

Gronk’s Claw

Gronk’s Claw will never let the Cartoonists’ Pencil be buried. NEVER!

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More on Echo Park

My last entry explained how I came to live across the street from the beautiful Echo Park Lake in Los Angeles while in college.  I lived there from 1978 – 1984.

Here I’m sharing some pictures I took of the lake in June of 1981.  Appearing in some of the images is Roberto Moreno, one of my closest friends from my college days.

Roberto and I had some wonderful adventures together, both in and out of Echo Park.

Just click on each image for a larger, more detailed view.

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This is a view of the Boat House

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The apartment complex in the center of this image is where I lived, at the very top of the hill.  Spectacular views!

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My friends would always humor me when I would ask them to pose for me.  Roberto was always ready to go along with my ideas, but he always added his own little touch when I would photograph him.

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This was directly across the street from my apartment.  The palm trees in Echo Park Lake are just majestically beautiful!

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A beautiful statue, my old friend!

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Folks were always fishing in the lake.  It is an oasis in the middle of town!

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This is my Duchamp!

You are not looking at the urinals in the Echo Park Lake men’s room, you are looking at a photograph!

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The Lotus in Echo Park are just so beautiful!  Unfortunately, these lovely plants died off.  Fortunately, someone had taken a few home and grew them and the City was able to replant them in the lake.  The lotus have returned to Echo Park.

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Roberto sitting at the water’s edge in a hollowed out tree stump.

ImageThese two images are on the base of the statue at the lake.  One of Echo Park’s most beloved icons sculpted in the Art  Deco style by artist  Ada Mae Sharpless,  the statue’s official  name is “Nuestra Reina de Los Angeles” (Queen of the Angels).  But most people refer to the statue as the “Lady of the Lake.”   Sharpless was  awarded this art  commission by the federal Works Progress Administration in 1934, a Depression-era program that commissioned works of public art.  Originally intended  to be cast in bronze,  the 14-foot-high cast stone statue  was given as a gift to  the city of Los Angeles  in 1935. Image

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Now go and visit Echo Park Lake to see the beautiful restoration.