As Los Angeles moves into less restrictive COVID-19 tiers, LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes reopens to the public on Thursday, April 15 at 50% capacity, just in time to begin a year-long celebration of its ten-year anniversary as the region’s first museum recognizing the artistic, cultural and historic contributions of Mexicans, Mexican Americans and all Latinas/Latinos in the founding, growth, and evolution of the city.
Opening Thursdays through Sundays, 12 noon to 4pm, LA Plaza will require guests to wear a face mask, undergo online health screenings, and make an online reservation for timed entry. Visitors will get their temperature checked and follow a one-way path through the galleries marked with social distancing signage and guided by gallery attendants.
“We are very excited to invite visitors back to LA Plaza as we kick off our ten-year anniversary celebration,” said John Echeveste, CEO. “We have created a safe environment where visitors can explore our new and permanent exhibits and stroll through our recently renovated Historic Paseo Walkway.”
With the reopening, visitors will finally have the opportunity to view Carlos Almaraz: Evolution of Form, the exhibition scheduled to open at LA Plaza on March 19, 2020, the week following the museum’s closure due to state-wide COVID-19 restrictions. The exhibition focuses on the renowned Chicano artist’s early life that significantly influenced his artistic style and form, from conceptualism and minimalism when he lived in New York in the 60s, to color and figurative work when he returned to Los Angeles.
Also new on view is the LA Plaza Village Murals exhibition, a collection of the original artwork by Judithe Hernandez, Jose Lozano, Barbara Carrasco, and Miguel Angel Reyes, that served as models for a series of murals painted at the recently-opened LA Plaza Village, located on Broadway between the 10 Freeway and Cesar Chavez Boulevard.
Opening just three weeks before lockdown, the much-lauded exhibition afroLAtinidad: mi casa, my city, exhibition will now be accessible to a waiting public. The exhibition explores the history and contemporary experiences of Afrolatinidad in Los Angeles through art, photographs, and personal objects. In the gallery, visitors enter a recreated Afro-Latinx home and understand how this vibrant yet underrepresented community is central to Los Angeles culture.
Also reopening April 15 is the LA Plaza Historic Paseo Walkway, which was rededicated in October 2019 after extensive renovations and upgrades. The landscaped, block-long pathway between the LA Plaza museum and the historic La Placita Church, extending from Main Street to Spring Street, now includes historical signage about the city’s rich past, from the indigenous Gabrielino-Tongva settlers through the years of rule by Spain, Mexico and the United States.
Two public art pieces are located in the Paseo Walkway: Wall Against Walls, a segment of the Berlin Wall donated by the citizens of Berlin as an inducement to tear down walls that divide peoples, and Transportapueblos: Los Resilientes a sculpture created by Mexican artist Alfredo “LIBRE” Gutierrez dedicated in recognition of the many difficulties faced by people who journey from their homes hoping to find a better life in the United States.
Beginning May 7, LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes will mount a large-scale neon mural installation by artist Patrick Martinez as part of Art Rise 2021, a city-wide arts initiative sponsored by Cause Communications in partnership with Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health. This new installation, titled Only Light Can Do That, 2021, will consist of 34 new neon artworks designed to inspire hope for essential workers.
During its closure, LA Plaza moved its exhibitions online, both as video walkthroughs and via virtual tours using Matterport 3D technology. LA Plaza began production of two virtual programs: En Casa con LA Plaza, conversations, demonstrations, presentations and performances featuring the best of Latinx history, art, and culture broadcast on Zoom and live-streamed on Facebook thrice-weekly, and En Familia con LA Plaza, an interactive family virtual series that explore different themes each month through hands-on art, literacy, gardening, and culinary art workshops, pre-recorded and available on LA Plaza’s YouTube page. With more than half a million views so far on Zoom, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram, both will continue offering new programming in the months to come.
LA Plaza launches its 10-year Anniversary with a special live-streamed En Familia con LA Plaza, produced by the museum’s award-winning Education Department, which also celebrates its tenth year. What better way to celebrate a birthday than with fun culinary, garden, and art workshops that celebrate LA Plaza, Los Angeles, and stories of our community. This event, which will take place on Saturday, April 17 at 10am, will highlight a LA Plaza’s Culinary Arts, Edible Teaching Garden and Leyendo con LA Plaza literacy program. The event will also include a special read along with one of LA Plaza’s founding board members, the Honorable Gloria Molina (ret.) reading Mi Papi Tiene Una Moto/My Papi Has a Motorcycle by Isabel Quintero. This special event will be live streamed directly on Zoom and Facebook Live.
Other planned activities and projects for LA Plaza’s ten-year anniversary, some already in the works, include the following:
- Completion and opening of LA Plaza Cocina, a multi-disciplinary venue dedicated to celebrating and educating visitors on Mexico’s culinary heritage, from its indigenous roots to contemporary interpretations, through exhibitions, cooking classes, lectures, workshops, and culinary festivals, located at LA Plaza Village on Spring Street
- Creation and installation of Árbol de La Vida—Reflections from Yaagna witnessed by the Sacred Tree of the Tongva, an altar installation by master altar-makers, Ofelia Esparza and daughter Rosanna Esparza Ahrens, informed by historical accounts of the first people of the Los Angeles basin and subsequent developments of El Pueblo de Los Ángeles.
- Opening of Patriotism in Conflict: Fighting for Country and Comunidad, an exhibition marking fifty-one years since the National Chicano Moratorium in East Los Angeles, recounting the momentum and critical events that led to one of the most influential demonstrations in Chicana/o history and inspired a generation of sociopolitical activism.
- Creation of site-specific murals, including a large-scale commissioned mural overlooking the LA Plaza Historic Paseo Walkway.
- Ten-year Anniversary Gala, scheduled for September, honoring the founding board members and staff of LA Plaza.
- Reopening of LA Plaza Tienda, LA Plaza’s museum gift store, which went online for the first time in November 2020.
- The scheduling of public programs, beginning in July, 2021, including the screening of the documentary Carlos Almaraz: Playing With Fire, a musical salute to Selena Quintanilla, the relaunch of our popular salsa series, and more, guided by current COVID-19 protocols.
“We thank our many supporters for staying with us through the past year,” Echeveste said. “Our dedicated staff has spent the last year planning a vibrant schedule of exhibitions, programs and other activities that visitors can now enjoy on site and we welcome all to stay tuned to www.lapca.org and our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages for new program announcements.”