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Frank Romero’s “Going to the 1984 Olympics” Arrives at LA Plaza

Going to the 1984 Olympics, the original painting by Frank Romero which served as the basis for his iconic mural overlooking the Hollywood Freeway, is now on display at LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes  through September 2022.  

The original painting, measuring 54” x 144”, is on display in the second-floor foyer wall of LA Plaza’s Vickery-Brunswig Building, where visitors have the opportunity to appreciate this unique artwork by one of the most iconic L.A. Chicano artists of our time.  

The original artwork is on loan to LA Plaza from its owners, Jim and Rachel Garrison.  Jim Garrison is the recently retired president of PacFed Insurance and a long-time LA Plaza supporter.    

“Having Romero’s Going to the Olympics, 1984 painting at LA Plaza so close to his original mural creates a sense of place, pride, and history. It builds momentum and excitement during global events like the Olympics, strengthening connection despite our differences,” said Karen Crews Hendon, LA Plaza Senior Curator. 

“Frank’s iconic mural helps get us ready for the return of the Olympics Summer Games to Los Angeles in 2028,” said John Echeveste, LA Plaza CEO.  “We are especially grateful to Jim and Rachel Garrison for making this iconic work available to us.” 

Going to the 1984 Olympics portrays families traveling from throughout Los Angeles to watch the Olympic Games, which took place in venues throughout Southern California. The painting is a tribute to L.A.’s car culture and was part of a set of murals commissioned for the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee. Romero painted the mural on the north side of the Hollywood Freeway (101) North between Alameda and San Pedro Streets by using a broom instead of a brush to accomplish the broad strokes that characterize it.  

In 2007, the mural sparked controversy and a necessary conversation about the loss of valuable murals of Los Angeles after it was painted over by Caltrans. At the time, Romero sued Caltrans for covering his work, with Caltrans explaining they were protecting it and other murals from graffiti until funds were available for restoration. Currently, the mural is completely covered by graffiti and is not visible.    

Throughout his artwork, including Going to the Olympics, Frank Romero explores the confluence of American pop culture, Latin American heritage and the Chicano experience. Romero painted more than a dozen murals around the city of Los Angeles and has exhibited in solo and group shows throughout the United States. 

According to Crews, “Frank Romero is one of Los Angeles’ most iconic contemporary artists and a leader during the height of the Chicana/o Art Movement. His bold and expressionistic painting styles are instinctual, experimental, and unrestrained, sourcing from his bi-cultural perspectives, social-political activism, and observance of popular culture in L.A. Merging both abstract and figurative forms, he championed the Chicana/o experience and broke the boundaries of accepted ideals in California art that helped birth a new genre of American artistic expression.”  

Frank Romero (1941 – ) was born and raised in Los Angeles. He studied art at the Otis Art Institute and California State College (now California State University) in Los Angeles. In 1973, Romero, Roberto de la Rocha, Gilbert “Magu” Luján and Carlos Almaraz formed an art collective called Los Four. The University of California, Irvine presented an exhibition of the group in 1974, which subsequently was shown at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Oakland Museum. Although he is known as one of the city’s foremost muralists, Romero is now primarily a studio artist. His work has been exhibited in many groups and solo shows, including “Contemporary Hispanic Art in the U.S.,” “Chicano Art: Resistance and Affirmation,” and “Dreamland: A Frank Romero Retrospective” at the Museum of Latin American Art. 

Jim Garrison is the recently retired president of Pacific Federal, LLC (PacFed), one of California’s most experienced employee benefits firms. Jim worked continuously in the health insurance industry for more than 40 years and one shared passion with his wife, Rachel, is making Chicano artwork accessible to Angelenos through their support of local artists and public exhibitions.