Louis Jacinto

onodream Press

Echo Park

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Echo Park by Louis Jacinto

One of my favorite images of Echo Park Lake in Los Angeles is by the great painter Frank Romero.  “Arrest of the Palateros” shows the mayhem that the Los Angeles Police Department thrives on by taking the easy way out.

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Arrest of The Palateros by Frank Romero

Instead of focusing on real crime, the L.A.P.D. spends thousands of tax dollars to capture an ice cream vendor who doesn’t have a sellers permit.

In the painting, if you look across the street to the right from the boathouse, you’ll see the green garage doors of an apartment complex.  From 1978 – 1984, I lived and worked in a small studio in the complex.  There were four levels of apartments and mine was at the top of the steps.  It was an absolute paradise.

I purchased a small print of “Arrest of the Palateros” from Romero a few years ago and I told him my story.  He said this image was also his homage to his friend, the incredible artist Carlos Almaraz, who, according to Frank, also lived in the same apartment complex.  I did some research and found an interview that Almaraz gave to the Smithsonian Institute in 1986.  In the interview Almaraz stated that he lived in Echo Park from the late 1970s through the early 1980s – the same time I lived there!  Clearly he did not live in the top section of the complex that I lived in as I knew my other 3 neighbors at the top level, so I’m sure I must have seen him and maybe just said hello as we passed each other, huffing and puffing up and down those steep steps.  Even today more than 30 years later, when I dream about Echo Park, it is always the lake and my apartment across the street.  And in my dream I am still renting the place, but only using it as a studio.  How I wish that were true now.

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Echo Park by Carlos Almaraz

I just love that I was in the same complex as the great Carlos Almaraz.  The world is wonderfully small (or is Los Angeles just wonderfully small in a big world?)

I arrived in Los Angeles on October 1, 1975.  I was 19 years old and ready to begin my third year of college at Cal State Los Angeles.  I rented a studio apartment in East Hollywood, just a couple of blocks from the Silver Lake district (or as I like to call it “Echo Park West”).

For those of you who do not know Los Angeles, it goes like this – Downtown, then heading west you hit the communities of Echo Park, Silver Lake, Los Feliz, Hollywood, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Westwood, Santa Monica, the Pacific Ocean.  This is not to dismiss the communities to the north, south or east of downtown, but that was the immediate route I learned upon my arrival.  But back to Echo Park.

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On the balcony of my Echo Park apartment, 1978

One of the difficulties in leaving my hometown was leaving my family, of course, but also my closest friends.  One of my friends, Victor Bisio, and I would spend hours each weekend listening to records all afternoon.  It was just heaven.  At that time his partner was trying to break into the record business so he rented this small studio apartment in Echo Park (yes, that same apartment) and used it as a base so he could travel to Los Angeles when he was out scouting acts and trying to meet people in the music industry.  Nothing became of his efforts, but the weekend of October 25 and 26, 1975, Elton John was playing at Dodger Stadium and Victor and I had tickets!

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Elton John at Dodger Stadium 1975 by Louis Jacinto

We jumped in my car and hopped on the freeway to the stadium.  I was too new in town to realize that the entrance to the stadium was only 3 blocks away from the apartment.  Victor and I had a blast and the place was mobbed.  We got there early and were able to sit close to the stage.  Looking back I wonder if the great Alice Bag was in the audience.  She was a FANTICAL fan of Elton John and she hadn’t started her punk rock band The Bags yet!

So Victor would use the apartment and come and visit me in Los Angeles.  Within a year, he had moved to Los Angeles himself, into the apartment, and we continued our wonderful adventures in Echo Park and beyond!

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Victor Bisio by Louis Jacinto

Victor would always say yes to my request for a photo shoot, regardless how lame brained the concept might have seemed.

By 1978 Victor was ready to move on to a bigger place.  I was still in college and he said I should move into the studio.  At that time the rent was $75 a month.  So I did.  Being 20 something’s we didn’t care about needing to inform the landlord, etc.  But as soon as the landlord accepted my first payment of rent, I was legally, the tenant.

It was a wonderful time in my life, a great apartment – just perfect for a college student – and Echo Park was still the cutting edge of life in Los Angeles for us young folks as it continues to be today.  Nothing too new (but don’t tell today’s kids that).  AND, Carlos Almaraz lived in the complex!  It was my time of becoming an adult.

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Echo Park by Louis Jacinto, 1978

Recently the lake and park have been completely refurbished.  And I still know someone who lives in that apartment complex – the partner of my friend and incredible photographer Martin Cox.  Martin has just released a great book of his photographs showing the park in its transition during the refurbishing.

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And my nephew James Juarez also lives on the next block over from my old place.  James is an amazing artist and stylist!

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I guess one of my favorite images is me dreaming of Echo Park.  Sometimes it is a beautiful dream.  And sometimes, as my old college chum Roberto Moreno has illustrated, it can be a nightmare, but just dreams all the same.

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More on Exhibitions

In my previous post I discussed my first exhibition, “The Anti-World War III” show in Berkeley, California.  Below are photographs that my cousin Theresa Gaona Carbajal took of the exhibit before it traveled to Venice, California!

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I had forgotten that I had 4 images accepted into the show, the 3 pictured above, as well as my “American Flag Post WW3” image.

Exhibitions

“The Anti-World War III Show” in 1980 was the first art show I exhibited in. 

I had already been shooting photographs since 1973, but really hit a stride in 1977 when I began to shoot the punk rock music bands in Los Angeles.  Man, that was a time.  The great Patti Smith was absolutely right when she sang, “this is the era where everybody creates!”

But I had never been in any art show prior to 1980.  I can’t recall where I read about the Anti-World War III show, but I know the curators were asking for submissions.  I also recall that there was no fee involved.  I submitted 3 images.  Actually, they were collages.  I had photographed Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter and John Anderson off of the television set.  I used black and white film and it was that time before the current flat screens, so the end result image always had those beautiful video scans that the film captured.

I then added word or thought bubbles, like you see in comic strips, to each of the 3 images where they either said, “My name is World War III” or “His name is World War III”.

The show opened in Berkeley then traveled to Venice, California.  I don’t know where the show went after that, or where the images are now.  Hopefully, not discarded.  My cousin Theresa Carbajal was living in the Bay Area back then and she saw the show in Berkeley and sent me some shots she took of my work in the exhibit.  I’ve got to dig those pictures up.

It’s not that I had forgotten about that show, but I was reminded two years ago during the Pacific Standard Time:  Art In L.A. 1945 – 1980 art survey, when the show, “Under The Big Black Sun” at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles had the Anti-World War III Art Show poster in this particular exhibition. “I was in that show”, I said to my partner, Kene Rosa, as I pointed to the poster.  I have a copy of that poster somewhere; I’ll have to dig that up, too.

So I continued to exhibit, not on a grand scale, but exhibit none the less.  I was also in an art collective during the latter half of the 1980s and into the early 1990s.  But one of the most exciting experiences in this early part of my exhibition career occurred when I entered, for the first time, the annual All City Open at the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery in Barnsdall Park. 

Back then, the City would have an open call for artists and if you were one of the first 1,500 artists, and you had the fee, you were in the show.

At that time I had just completed a body of work where I had photographed the word, “Los Angeles” as it appeared in the environment.  I then hand tinted the black and white prints.  The day of the opening I went to the show, naturally, and my sister Susie and her husband John joined me, as they had driven into town to spend the weekend with me.

I had noticed that my photograph had a ribbon next to it, but doh doh bird me, I didn’t connect the ribbon with being one of the winners.  I thought the jurors liked the work and they placed a ribbon on it.  But during the ceremony, my name was called and I was one of 10 winners and I was given a check for $100.  It was wonderful!  And back in the 1980s, $100 was a large amount of money!

This annual event now occurs every two years, and I continue to participate in it.  I believe it’s a great cause that supports the City Art Gallery, which never charges admission, and it’s also great camaraderie to be standing line with all the other artists.  Of course, a lot of the work is just terrible, but hey, not everybody likes what I do, so it’s a real level playing grown.

This summer the call is out again.  I’m going to enter, along with some other friends.  You should too!  Click here for more information, and I hope to see you there!  And may you, and I, win! 

Below is the winning photograph all those years ago.  This is not the original hand tinted version, that piece is in the home of a friend in New Mexico now!

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More on ANGELA

While finishing up the ANGELA book, my collection of photographs I took of Angela Davis in 1978, I was also exhibiting a new body of work at the Loft At Liz’s Gallery in Los Angeles.  That show was a great success and Liz’s was the first venue to kick-off the annual MOPLA – Month of Photography Los Angeles – events throughout the city.

Two weeks into the exhibit the gallery hosted an artists talk, co-produced by Open Show Los Angeles.  That evening I was introduced to Charmaine Jefferson, the Executive Director of the California African American Museum.  Angela Davis was scheduled to speak at the venue and I asked about the time and date.  Unfortunately I knew I was not going to be able to attend.

The next day I attended a lobbying day at the Los Angeles Council Chambers to ensure that our elected officials kept the arts high on the agenda for continued funding and support.  Ms. Jefferson was in attendance and I went up and said hello.  I explained that I would not be able to attend the speaking event with Angela Davis, but I wondered if I could impose on her by sending a copy of the upcoming ANGELA book that she could forward to Ms. Davis.  I also stated I would include a copy for her as well.  Ms. Jefferson said she would be delighted to forward the book, and as for her copy, she would ensure that it entered the museum’s archives!Image

Preview ANGELA

A N G E L A

I have just completed the book of images I took of Angela Davis in 1978.  The response has been great and I hope many of you have had the opportunity to the preview of the book.  Image

Here is the page for your preview http://onodream.com/artwork/3160864_A_N_G_E_L_A.html